Happy Mother's Day

Another guest post from ShaeLynn...

My first Mother’s Day weekend as a mother has been very special, thanks to several surprises Kevin Sr (including a nostalgic breakfast, gorgeous roses, a copy of my favorite movie, and a series of photos showing my transition to being a mom). But I want to spend a little time talking about OUR mothers, in part because I think I appreciate them even more than I did before I was a mother myself, and in part because they’re just awesome!

Both moms (grandmas!) have come to stay with us and help out since Kevin Jr. was born.  My mom offered magnificent, unconditional support during my homebirth and for weeks afterward.  I was astonished that she completely put everything in her life on hold so that she could spend extra days helping us when my midwife recommended what amounted to bed rest for me.  She even let me bring the baby out at 5 in the morning so I could get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, and diligently worked to learn the origami-like cloth diaper folds!

After 5 days on our own, Kevin’s mom came to stay for 10 days, and brought so much sunshine and energy into our home!  She cooked Kevin his favorite meals from his childhood, held the baby during every meal so I could eat without interruption (EVERY MEAL!), and added charming little design touches all over our farm, making it a happier place to work and live.

But beyond how much help these two remarkable women have been since we became parents, they both strongly influenced our willingness and confidence in starting our own business.   Kevin grew up with his mom’s small business—she was a professional muralist in Hawai’i, and a costume designer for one of the largest theaters on the islands.  As Kevin has said again and again seeing her bravery to forge out on her own to make her passion into her business gave him a great deal of strength and inspiration for starting Early Bird Ranch.  Similarly, every time she visits I see where Kevin gets his beloved extroversion and desire to truly know and befriend every customer.

My mother worked as a university pre-school teacher/director, overseeing a classroom that could serve as many as 60 families a year.  I grew up watching her design staffing charts, consider how to interact with challenging parents or student employees, and plan out and design intricate and fascinating lessons and activities on a slim budget.  From my mother I learned the importance of economy of time and money, and how important planning and organizing are to this goal.  Clearly these skills and priorities are priceless in a business where we strive to provide food at its least expensive real cost, and to make it affordable to as many families as possible.

My mom may not realize that she gave me my first real lesson on running a small business, but in part it’s memories like these that make me feel confident about my future goal to homeschool (I was not, but my mom would have been terrific at it!).  In my Junior year of high school, I joined the orchestra and made plans to travel to London for a music festival and a week of tourism.  The price tag attached to this trip was $1300.  It was not in my parents’ budget to just fork this over, and I think it would have done me a huge disservice had they done so.  Instead, mom and I sat down in September and considered how much money was in my savings account, how much I could responsibly invest in this trip, how much I could expect to add if I didn’t spend any birthday or Christmas money, and how much was left to raise.  Then, perhaps not realizing what an enormous undertaking this would become, she gamely suggested that we do a fundraiser—we had just perfected our family’s favorite apple pie, so why not make them as Thanksgiving take-and-bake pies for friends and family?  We went to the grocery store and scoped out the price of the competition, added up all the costs associated with the project (she donated her labor, as did I), and came up with a price that would get me closer to my goal.  She cajoled a family friend into letting us climb to the top of her 50 year old apple tree to collect fruit their family wouldn’t typically bother to get, and we increased our margins with free apples.  The week before Thanksgiving we made dozens of pies, which raised hundreds of dollars towards my trip, and if I recall correctly, mom eventually covered the costs of ingredients to get me even closer to my goal.  If Early Bird Ranch was going to make pies, this is exactly how we would do it.  And 8 years before I began my own business, my mother showed me how it was done.  No textbook could have prepared me better for grasping the fundamentals of running a small business!  Thank you, Mom!
Tutu, Grandma, and baby Kevin at 3 days old.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there investing the kind of time and love that our mothers invested in us.  You deserve the recognition and adoration of your families and communities for the work that you do, and I hope to one day count myself in your ranks!