Just bear with me for a second here...
We went to early Mass this morning. Afterwards I was all, "Let's get a doughnut! We have TIME! Because we went EARLY! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY!" (so goes the chirping of a Morning Person.) But the doughnut shop we like is kind of far from church so we headed to a nearby coffee shop instead. Sort of a snooty coffee shop. An AUTHENTIC SEATTLE coffee shop. One where you are supposed to be educated about your coffee, where the baristas go to espresso pulling competitions in Europe. It's a big place with free wifi, full of beaten up leather furniture and wooden tables and chairs and Serious Seattleites drinking their Serious Coffee. And we like this place. It used to be a "cool" place to study when we were in college.
But I don't know. I've always found it sort of... well, slightly unfriendly. Like I am not serious enough, not devoted enough to coffee (I DO drink decaf after all), maybe my pants are not tight enough and my glasses are not black plasticky enough. My scarf is not tied correctly. Then today, as I'm sitting there, attempting to get my children to eat their giant baked goods over their plates and not bump the person behind them and oh God please don't shriek in this holy house of coffee worship, I realized: it's just not very mom friendly.
So THEN I started telling Phillip that I was going to open my OWN coffee shop. A mom-and-baby-friendly coffee shop. A coffee shop that would CATER to the five-and-under set. Where you could plop your kid down while you go order and pay for your coffee. Where you don't have to worry about crumbs on the floor. Where no one is going to give you a Look because your kid is babbling and interrupting Studying or Newspaper Reading or Great American Novel Writing. Where there are sippy cups next to the pitchers of water. Kid-sized scones. A big table with a giant roll of Ikea paper and a bin of crayons in the center. An enclosed area for the tiny ones, with a bar and chairs around the outside so the parents can see it all, but not be IN it all.
I have been to a lot of local coffee shops with designated play areas for small children, but I haven't been to a coffee shop that is ITSELF a designated play area.
When Jack and Molly were babies my biggest thing was that our outings be EASY. I never got on board with my ambitious friends and their zoo and aquarium and children's museum passes. I wanted friends to come to my house or I wanted to be invited to their houses. I didn't want to see gorillas, I wanted to talk to my friends while our kids entertained themselves. You know? Is that so wrong? So bad? I wanted it to be EASY and INEXPENSIVE and fun for ME TOO. (TRANSLATION: AM LAZY.)
Even now, I have to find a place to hang out with Molly and Emma, three mornings a week in between kindergarten and preschool drop off. There are about 4 or 5 coffee shop options and several months into this gig I still can't decide which is the best one for our annoying situation. One has a great kids play area, but it's very small and very quiet and the kids are often the only ones there and the treats are no good. One has GREAT coffee and a GREAT friendly vibe, but it's almost always packed and difficult to navigate and manage with kids. Another has coloring books and high chairs, but it's dark and you can't see your kid from the coffee-doctoring station.
I'd love a place where it's okay to find a seat and get your kids settled before you go up to the counter and order. Where you CAN leave a four-year-old alone at a table for five minutes. Where you can meet your other SAHM or part-time-working mom friends on a rainy weekday morning and everyone can be entertained. A plain cup of milk is an option. Where noise is ok. Where you aren't overwhelmed taking two big kids, a baby in an Ergo, a giant diaper bag, and everyone's coats and mittens because it will be a space that caters to you. FRIENDLY.
It would have to be Seattle-ish. It would need to feel independent and cute and a little quirky. There would be giant bulletin boards advertising things of interest to parents. There would be a giant sign showing you what is compostable, what is recyclable, and what is garbage. The treats would be organic, local, with gluten-free and vegan options - whatever the FPC thinks up because OBVS that is her department. But it wouldn't look like a preschool or a play gym or the church nursery, it would look like someone's super huge living room where you aren't afraid to spill on the couch. It would have to be RELAXED and CHILL and not the sort of place that makes you feel like you need to sign up for baby sign language classes AND gymnastics AND get a children's museum membership like all the GOOD moms. It's a place to HANG OUT. You know it rains a lot here, right? It's where you'd meet some friends on a very gray and rainy morning on a no-preschool day. YOU KNOW THOSE DAYS.
And it would need to also be a ministry of sorts - a place to hold fundraisers, a collection drop off spot for needy moms, a place for your bible study to meet, maybe there could even be a meeting room and occasional babysitters? It would somehow serve the community. It would help moms somehow - and not the moms who have the time and money to hang out at a coffee shop once or twice a week.
The coffee shop idea is not ENTIRELY new to me - long long ago I did the poor Northwest college student's spring break at Seaside, Oregon and ate breakfasts in a coffee house that was a HOUSE. Just a little house where you could go upstairs and hang out in any of the rooms to read. COOLEST COFFEE SHOP EVER. That's when I thought it'd be so neat to own one. And I've thought of it off and on since then, but dude. I have absolutely no business acumen, no experience, a somewhat lacking work ethic, and no interest in managing or making or investing or figuring out money (only spending it, please!)
It's the having a gathering place that appeals to me. I like providing a place to gather.
As I talked to Phillip... HE is business-oriented. My sister has done the baking and knows how it works. My brother-in-law (her husband) is an EXCELLENT front-of-house guy. And I am good at things like labeling trays of cookies and being picky about website fonts. Which is, obvs, super useful.
Okay, so NOW it is SEVERAL HOURS LATER and while I still think this is the BEST! IDEA! EVER! I have floated down onto the lower lying Cloud Of HOW Much Money Would This Cost? And the fact that I have no experience. And how much work it is. And how there are, like, a frillion coffee shops in this town and why would MINE be better? What would make it different from this one?
(Maybe instead of "unique learning environment" my website would say "has liquor license.")
But it sounds cool, right? It totally does. It even sounds FUN.
And with this angsty (but a DIFFERENT kind of angst than what we're used to on this website!) blog post, that's probably where it will end. Well. After I figure out a color scheme. And create a menu. And price out kid furniture at Ikea. And thumb throuh one of Phillip's books about business consulting. Aaaaaand HA HA HA THIS IS SO AMUSING TO YOU, ISN'T IT.