My son Gideon, currently three and a half, has sort of become one of those island characters. The kind of recognizable person that when you talk to other islanders and you say "the blonde kid who plays in the yard at Haan's 1830 Inn" they know who you're tallking about. When dock porters come to bring luggage, Gideon, who is often in the yard and the first person to see the dock porter, will offer instructions: "Ok just bring
those bags inside," he might say. Some lucky guests are joined by Gideon while they are being checked in to their room. "Ok so here is your key and the bathroom is over there," Gideon helpfully instructs our charmed guests. One of our favorite dock porters, Byron, will tell you, "Gideon is the boss." But, if you were to ask, "Gideon, who is the boss?" he would dutifully answer, "Momma is the boss," (cue a proud heart and the temptation to give him a peice of candy every time he says it).
Running a business and being a mom of young kiddos is not something I would have ever chosen to put together. When my husband and I imagined taking over the B&B we thought we would be in our 40s or 50s, not our late 20s/early 30s. Picture if you will, my current state of being: I am standing at the kitchen counter typing this blog post with legos around my feet, my "happy light" next to my face (its December people), and,.. my three year old laying on the floor next to me, crying because I wouldn't let him hit the dog with one of his pretend tools. I am standing because my two-month old is strapped to me in the Moby Wrap and if I don't stand and sway a little bit she will probably wake up and be upset about it.
You probably didn't picture that scene as you started to read this blog post. While I would love to be sitting at an antique desk at the inn, wearing a name-tag because I was just one employee of twenty and my only responsibilty was to write blogs, post on facebook, and answer phones, that is just not the case. During the off-season its just my husband and me, and even during the season we don't have twenty employees. When you call the inn during the off-season it goes to my cell phone, and when I sit at my desk I might have one, or both kids on my lap, I might be in my pajamas, and I might have forgotten to put on deodorant. Some lucky guests even get to experience an interruption that includes spilled milk, the dog barking at a squirrel, or a toddler who understands that mom is especially easy to manipulate when she is on the phone with a guest. When you call and you have to leave a voicemail I may be addressing those concerns, or making a peanut-butter and jelly, or at the grocery store, or outside pushing a stroller. Most people who call us imagine that first scene, a hustle and bustle of employees in pant-suits, working in organized spaces and fresh faces. But we are a much smaller operation, though hopefully still hospitable and professional.
We could be that glorious picture of employees with name-tags and uniforms if we charged our guests $400 or more a night, but we aren't and we don't. Instead you get us or our beloved innkeeper helpers, in casual dress and tired eyes. Some of you will be greeted by my children when you come to check in, and pass by a toy or two that has been left in the yard as you walk to your room. Its not perfect or always pretty but I love it. I think its a beautiful picture of a family business - it is literally our family home. It allows us to keep our prices reasonable for others who want to experience history in an authentic old home and bed and breakfast. It also allows us to share our business with our children - teaching them how to make muffins, help with dishes or laundry, be curteous to strangers.
While it certainly isn't how I would've chosen to start running the Inn, I am still so grateful. I love being able to share it with my family, and share my family with you. I guess the hope I have out of this blog post is that you, the reader and the guest, get a better picture of who we are and can share in our messy joy. And that you aren't confused when you've had to leave three voicemails in one day because you can't get through to me...