Saturday, July 14, 2012

I am the Original Rock-A-Bye Baby

 I am the original Rock-A-Bye Baby.

32 years ago today, my parents opened a little store of their own called Rock-A-Bye Baby.
32 years ago today, my mom - a young, brand new mom, became her own boss.
She still is today.
This store, this family business, is amazing.

That's a baby me, in Rock-A-Bye, up there.
I laid in cribs and was fed bottles behind the counter at Rock-A-Bye.  I test drove walkers and strollers and was held by customers and played with customers' kids in the toy section.

I learned how to talk, and sometimes say inappropriate things to customers - like questions about if they were pregnant, and telling them that my Mommy was in the bathroom, at Rock-A-Bye.

As a little girl, I remember putting like or matching items together - I thought then I was a marketing designer. I realize now that my mom was probably just glad I was entertaining myself for a few minutes so she could work.

I remember watching the Olympics on a TV behind the counter, and imagining that the clothing racks were my uneven bars. I never did get to swing on them.

I remember eating and coloring in the sun in the display window. 

I remember taking my dolls shopping.

I remember how hard my mom worked. I remember her coming home from work, carrying bags of baby clothes to wash at home.  I remember folding baby clothes when I was a kid.

I remember my oldest nephew laying a crib at Rock-A-Bye.

I remember the day Rock-A-Bye in Virginia Beach burned down.  I was in ninth grade, it was the first day of school I missed in my life.

I remember watching my mom come back from the biggest tragedy in our lives.  Her strength was amazing.  Our Christmas presents burned up in that fire, but we still had a Christmas.  I remember our family pulling together, and my mom working at a flea market selling baby stuff until Rock-A-Bye was back - better than ever.

I remember working at Rock-A-Bye as my first job when I was 16.  I remember taking my paycheck straight to Old Navy, which had just opened, and blowing it.  We all worked at Rock-A-Bye at one time or another. Now my sister has her own Rock-A-Bye.

I remember getting good at working at Rock-A-Bye.  I remember sizing clothes, and putting out shipments, and trading items.  

I remember beautiful babies, and stinky babies, and babies who were stinkers, who messed everything up.  I remember beautiful stories from parents and grandparents. I happily rang them up as they spoiled those babies.

I remember tragic stories of people who had real needs for their babies, but couldn't afford to buy the things they needed.  I remember watching my mom give away perfectly good baby equipment to people in need.  

I learned how to have a heart for people, at Rock-A-Bye.

Rock-A-Bye financed my childhood, all of the athletic activities I enjoyed as a teenager.  And then the time came for me to go to college. Rock-A-Bye made that possible, too.

I remember when Rock-A-Bye Baby OBX opened.  I remember introducing ourselves to people on the Outer Banks.  I remember some of those first customers. I remember feeling like a real "local."

I remember renting equipment, making signs for the store, reading baby books myself and getting freaked out.  
I remember knowing how to break down every piece of baby equipment and loading it into every type of vehicle imaginable.

I remember getting countless babysitting opportunities because of Rock-A-Bye.

I remember going to see my mom in Rock-A-Bye days before my wedding.  Sharing lunch with my mom behind the counter.  We were both barefoot, of course.  I remember her constantly making piles, and eating a bite of lunch here and a bite there - because she was always a busy little bee.

I'll never forget the smell of Rock-A-Bye.
Whenever I'm there and I hear that ding of the bell when a customer walks in - it just feels right.

I can't wait for the day I can take my future baby into Rock-A-Bye.  Not only because she will get the ultimate hookup on everything she will need for the first years of her life, but because that's part of the cycle of life in our family. 

That cycle that started 32 years ago today.

Happy Birthday, Rock-A-Bye!  Thank you for everything. 


Kristen Maddux said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother and all her hard work and effort. That's really something to be proud of. Congrats to her and to your family! That's a wonderful heritage to have.
I have a similar feeling when I walk into the old, small chapel where my dad started his now thriving ministry when I was about four. All the smells, recollections of arranging folding chairs, coloring in Sunday night church, playing in my dad's tiny office connected to the one bathroom. Lots of hard work with good people...priceless memories!

Stephanie said...

Great story!

Phyllis said...

I shopped at the 1st Rock-A- Bye -Baby, in Virginia for my oldest who's 31 now and my youngest who's 21..I now shop there for my daycare..and now my 1st grandbaby due January 6!!! CONGRATS my prayer is that the Lord continue to bless you, and your business...Thank You..

Dana Brown Ritter said...

It's so cool to experience the things of our childhood as adults. What a gift. What a perspective, right? :)

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Thanks Stephanie!

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Thanks so much Phyllis. Customers like you are so special. CONGRATS to you on that new grandbaby! :)

Unknown said...

When I worked there part time for Cindy, people would come out of the bathroom and ask if I was Dana. :) I always thought it was so cool how she had y'all's baby announcement still in the shop. She is a remarkable woman. I had just moved to the OBX when I found out I was pregnant. It was high risk, so I wasn't allowed to do much. Your mom, and her store was my only splice that year. Love her so.