One of the main reasons my sister Dani and I were so passionate about going into business for ourselves was that we wanted jobs where our children could be with us. We kept this in mind as we shopped for retail space and ultimately fell in love with our second story location that has 1,000 square feet of retail space with a couple large back room for toys and giant beanbags.
It is wonderful having my children with me. I love that I’m not missing out on the crazy things they say and funny things they do each day. We’ve even started working on preschool workbooks and I get to watch them learn and grow. That part of having my children with me is amazing.
However, nearly once a day a shopper will tell me, “Oh, it’s so nice you can have your kids here with you at the shop!” To this, my response has been, “Most of the time it is.”
I say this because there have been those days where it is not nice at all to have my children here with me. There are days where nothing I do makes them happy and we spend the day crying and whining, running back and forth from the front counter to the back room. And yes, I say “we” because it’s not just the children!
For working Moms and Dads you know what it’s like to have your children present as you try to work. You walk the line between gratitude that you can be present with them and guilt that you aren’t more fully present with them. How can you provide the best customer service when you are distracted by the needs of your children? How can you be the best parent when you are distracted by the needs of your customers?
When my 5 year old and 2 year old are here with me at the shop I am always on high alert. I know that the moment I’m in a meaningful conversation with one of our customers that that will be the moment Anderson comes crashing out from the back playroom yelling, “Mommy, I need to go potty!” The other day in the middle of a sale Ellie let out with a blood curdling scream. I ran to check and yes, she had hurt herself, but my little drama queen saw red from the scrape and freaked out because, blood.
I think the reason I hate this the most is not because I can’t handle an interruption but more because it forces me to show a side of myself I don’t want our customers to see. Just when I feel like I’m really making it as a successful shop owner one of my kids bursts in and lets you know that I’m really a messy Mom who’s just trying really hard to hold it together.
And it’s easy to get so distracted by the work that I am on auto-pilot with my children. When Ellie was just 2 years old she came running to me holding out her little finger saying, “Mama, Mama, Mama” (my children never call my name just once, it is always at least three times). Assuming she had an ouchie, I stopped what I was doing just long enough to take her little finger, press it to my lips for a kiss and send her on her way. This time, however, she stayed right by my side. Confused, she looked up at me and said, “No, Mama. Booger.”
I’m learning to pay attention.
I’m also learning that you, our customers, are much more forgiving than I expected you to be. One of my biggest and best surprises has been how understanding you have all been. When Anderson was tiny and I was bouncing him in the baby carrier at the counter I expected some dirty looks and disgust that I wasn’t more efficient and helpful. Instead, I received nothing but encouragement and comments from others who “miss those days.”
Thank you for being a kind and supportive community of fellow parents and understanding people. You are the ones who make having my children with me possible. And for that I will always be grateful to you. So, yes, it is so nice that I can have my kids here with me at the shop. Well, most of the time it is!
If you haven't seen it yet, check out the video that inspired this post. I can relate to this poor Dad!