For my fourth and final Mother’s Day interview, I got to sit down and talk with a mom who is responsible for keeping a lot of other moms happy. I interviewed Brooke, co-owner of my favorite establishment in Tosa. She and her sister, Sarah, own The Ruby Tap in Wauwatosa and Mequon. Brooke and I sat down and talked about what it takes to be a mom and business owner all in one. Hearing her story about how she juggles it all, is a reminder that the good stuff in life doesn’t come without a lot of hard work. Scroll on down to read our interview & see pics of her super cute boys!
Q. When did you start Ruby Tap?
A. It was August 2012. Liam was a year old when we opened the first one. Noah was a year when we opened the second location. Liam had a pack and play in the back and during the build out, he would sleep in that.
Q. How did you come up with the idea to open Ruby Tap?
A. We had seen the wine machines and we wanted to build it off that in a coffee house feel, but with wine. Sarah and I were living in Chicago and we were looking up these machines for ages. Her lease was up, while I was already living here because my husband took a job in Wisconsin. We signed the lease in May and she moved up here around Memorial Day weekend.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge with running a business & juggling motherhood?
A. Employees have been the hardest thing. Finding employees that want to work, that like to work. You find someone who thinks they want a part-time job but doesn’t want to work weekends. I used to go to bed at 9pm every night, and now I own a bar, so that was really hard. In the beginning, Sarah and I were working open to close every night and Jordan (my husband) wasn’t used to being with just Liam at night. So he started taking him on walks every day with our two dogs. But it was tough, we were so busy when we first opened. We’d get home and be eating dinner at 2 in the morning and then I’d be up with a baby the next day. I’ve been super fortunate that both babies have been excellent sleepers.
Q. What has been your proudest parenting moment?
A. I have a lot of parent fails, let’s just go there. (laughing!) I would say what I’m most proud of, in general, is that I love that they’re growing up in this because they are used to so many different personalities and they’re used to talking to people and being good in public. When we go out, we always want people to tell us, ‘those kids are the best.’ Another proud parenting moment-when this one (she points to Liam) learned how to open a wine bottle with a corkscrew. He’s got that down. And then we were at someone’s house the other day, opening something sparkling and he says, ‘you should saber it!’ So my proud moments might not be the same as others (laughing!)
Q. What’s one thing you wish you had known about being a mom business owner before you became one?
A. I wish I had known how hard it would be with employees. What makes it really hard is that I have plans to do something with my family and then somebody flakes out, or somebody quits, or something happens. And because you own it, it doesn’t matter what anyone’s issues are, you have to be there. We have some great employees, but everyone here is part time so when you work during the day and then you have to close, it can be a long day. I rarely get to go to anything at school because everything is in the afternoon.
Q. What was your mom right about?
A. So there are 6 kids in my family. I’m the oldest girl and Sarah is 5 years younger than me. My mom is supermom. I feel like if you can raise 6 kids, you can do anything. When it comes to the kids, I’m like ‘whatever you say’ because that’s one thing she knows super well. When it comes to parenting things I would call her before anything. My mom is also very much, ‘marriage comes first.’ Marriage first, kids second. That’s always stuck with me. Because otherwise they see something that’s modeled that it shouldn’t be.
Q. What advice would you give other mom entrepreneurs or moms starting their own business?
A. You need a support system and you need a support system that is doing the same thing. I’m fortunate now that I have some people now in the restaurant industry that are also parents which has been really helpful. I love working with my sister, to have someone to do this with. What we’ve done in my family, is that the time that we do have, we try to make the most of it. We always did something fun on Mondays. Monday funday! So a support system and the time that you do have as a family, make it worth something.
I’m keeping up celebrating moms for the month of May because I don’t think that one day is nearly enough-although I may be a bit biased. You can read week 1 and week 2 if you want to catch up and see my interviews with other amazing moms.
This week I’m highlighting a very unique kind of mom. A mom that not only gives her best self to her kids, but to her country as well. With May also being Military Appreciation Month, I found it very fitting to interview a military mom.
I’ve known Jen for a number of years. Our kids are the same ages, so it’s nice to have someone to lean on and know that we’re not alone through all of these toddler and young kid phases. She’s selfless, always putting other people first, an amazing mom and a dedicated Airman. I had a lot of fun interviewing her and I learned some things that I didn’t know before!
Q. Why did you decide to join the military?
A. I joined the military for the educational benefits.
Q. Was it your plan to make it career?
A. I was planning on doing my 6 years and getting out. It was literally a whim. My friend and I were in a class in high school and realized we didn’t know how we were going to pay for college, so we drove to the base after school. They told me at the gate that I had to make an appointment with a recruiter, that I couldn’t just drive to the gate and come in (laughing). Once I joined and was out here full-time, I realized that there’s more to the Guard than one weekend a month, that I could actually work out here full-time and make a career out of it. I could work full-time and still go to school.
Q. What kind of added challenges do you feel that military moms face?
A. I know there are other jobs that have travel commitments, but for certain career fields you are expected to deploy. So it’s just something you know you have to face, whether it’s every year, every two years, depending on what you do. In the Guard we also have to do the one weekend a month drill and as much as it doesn’t seem like it’s a lot, when you’re working full-time you’re really only left with 3 weekends to do certain things.
Q. When your kids look back on this time of their lives, how do you want them to remember you?
A. Like a fun, caring mom. I try and take off of work when I can and do fun, memorable things with them. I hope they think that their mom being in the military is cool. Not many kids get to come here and look at the planes or tour Air Force 2. When we have the air and water show, they get kind of a behind the scenes look. So right know I hope they think it’s cool. Sometimes, they get mad that I have to leave for work, but I feel like that’s just kids at this age.
Q. What was your mom right about in life?
A. EVERYTHING! (laughing!) I was totally rebellious. Whatever my mom (or dad) told me, I did the opposite. And every time they were always right. Just everything. Boys you date, friends and life. Everything. I know your parents always say, ‘because I said so’ and you think to yourself that I will never say that! Now I catch myself now saying ‘because I said so that’s why’ all the time. Everything they ever told me growing up, as much as I wanted them to be wrong, they were always right.
Q. What advice would you give to military moms or moms who travel a lot for work?
A. When you have leave, use it. If you don’t have a lot going on at work and you can take the time away and spend it with your kids, whether it’s going on a field trip, or just taking a day off, then do it. I get ‘service before self’ (an Air Force core value) but your work life can & will go on without you there. The work will be there when you get back. So, take time for you as well as your kids and family. If you’re not strong enough and taking time for yourself, if you’re stressed out all the time, then I don’t think that you can give 100% of your best self to your kids or your family.
This past week, I sat down with my sister to talk to her about all things babies. She’s a first time mom and I wanted to talk to her about how life has changed since bringing little Stella into the world. Scroll down for the interview-it’s a good one!
Q. What’s one thing you’ve learned about babies since having Stella that you never knew before?
A.Babies let you know what they need. Even though they can’t talk, you really learn their cries and the difference between a hungry cry or a dirty diaper cry or I just want to be held cry.
Q. What’s the best part about becoming a mom?
A. Everything she does amazes me, I still think, I’m a mom? And what I really mean by that is when I see her developing into her own personality, and discovering the world around her I’m just amazed by everything she does because I created her.
Q. And on the flip side, what has been the most challenging part?
A. The sleepless nights. Thankfully those are fewer these days, but she’s getting teeth and when she’s in pain, it’s no fun for anyone.
Q. Tell me one thing that you miss about your pre-baby days.
A. Honestly it’s hard to remember life before Stella, but sometimes I miss being able to come and go as I wish. Now I plan my outings based on her napping and eating schedule.
Q. What was mom right about?
A. To trust your mommy instincts. She told me kids come with the answers. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that until Stella was here and I learned to trust my gut when dealing with decisions regarding my daughter.
Q. What advice would you give expecting, first-time moms right now?
A.Enjoy and cherish every moment, the beginning is a learning curve for everyone but it gets easier, don’t let mom guilt get the best of you… know the most important thing you can give your child is love and as long as you’re doing that, you’re doing a pretty good job!
In celebration of Mother’s Day this month (May 13th to be exact!) I wanted to highlight 4 moms that I think are doing an AMAZING job! Each Monday this month, I will be interviewing a mom who I feel has a unique story that I want to share with the world. Each post will feature an interview, along with some cute pictures of her with the kiddos.
To start things off, I interviewed my own mom! This woman right here is so amazing, I don’t think the Internet has the capacity to hold everything that I could say about her. She’s an incredible mom (and Grandma) to my two girls, along with my niece. She raised two girls on her own and has accomplished so much and has shown me first hand that anything you put your mind to is possible. I’m so proud of her and I love seeing my girls with her. I had so much fun sitting at my kitchen table, sipping wine and interviewing her. Scroll down to read it and stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more tributes to awesome moms!
Me: As a mom (and grandma) what has been your biggest accomplishment?
Mom: My biggest accomplishment has been raising you two girls and watching you two grow up and become the women that you are. But not only that, watching you become moms yourself has been so incredible to watch. It’s truly been a blessing.
Me: If you could go back now and tell your young mom self something about parenting, what would it be?
Mom: Hmm. I think I would tell myself not to sweat the small stuff and that time goes by so fast so just to enjoy every moment and to cherish the time and phase of life that you girls were in.
Me: What are some challenges that you see moms today facing that you didn’t have to think about when we were growing up? Mom: The need to be, or appear to be the “perfect mom”. You know, people want everything to appear to be perfect on Facebook or social media and that’s just not the case. Society puts a lot of pressure on moms nowadays to be perfect and there’s no such thing. To have the pressure of the perfect birthdays, and dinners while working and still taking care of your house. It sounds exhausting!
Me: What was your mom right about?
Mom: OooO….she thinks…can we come back to this question? haha! She always told me to spend more time with you kids and that you will grow up in the blink of an eye and I will have wished I had this time back.
Me: What advice would you give younger/newer moms today?
Mom: Don’t sweat the small stuff. That whatever you’re going through right now is just a phase and won’t last forever. To spend time with them whenever you can but also to remember it’s not about the quantity of time, but rather the quality.