before you dive in, read here.
I don’t know what to say. It’s been way too long since I’ve written, I know that, I do… but still as I sit here, I still don’t know what to say.
The past two and half years, have been both the best and the worst of my life.
Let’s talk about the two things that have made it the best… but first let me start by saying… I had (3) main dreams in my life: 1. to start a family, 2. to move back down south and 3. always have 10,000 in the bank (linked to my purpose). Well, in 2014, I found myself making 2 out of the three come true.
1. In October 2013, my husband and I had our amazing son, Leonardo.
2. In May 2014, my little family packed up and headed from the DC/VA area back to Savannah,GA (I graduated from Art School here in Savannah and fell in love with the south, told myself that if I ever had a chance to move back south, It would be a dream of mine) so my husband could teach cooking classes at a cooking school. *He still does this and I think still loves it.
These two things have literally been pinch me moments the past two+ years. I LOVE being a mama and… while I DESPERATELY miss the restaurants and the culture of the DC area, I am SO grateful that we headed south. The slower pace of life, the weather (no snow) and the lower cost of living have definitely been a welcome part of our decision that I know both of us feel no regret. (The difference in daycare alone made it worth the move)
What has also been pinching me, in both a sad and lonely way, is the twisting and winding and unwinding in my heart, about the state of my restaurant relationship, that honestly I wouldn’t know where to begin, and wouldn’t be able to tell you where we ARE.
But I guess I’ll try.
It’s literally mind blowing to me how everything UNHEALED within ourselves, specifically with regards to our relationships to our own parents, unforgivingly comes to the surface when you become a parent yourself. I had a vague idea it was going to do so but I had NO IDEA to what degree both my husband and myself would have to face our inner demons ourselves and regularly and with fierce defensiveness, was a battle of survival of the fittest.
I’ll share three places in our lives where we find ourselves dueling.
1. TRIGGERS – BOTH of us, for whatever reason… are very sensitive when we hear the other person say that they don’t like how one of us is “doing it” with regards to parenting our son. From DAY ONE, about whether we should let our little baby cry it out or not (we were on opposite stands of this topic, guess which one I was on?) to even now that he’s a toddler and whether we should “let him get away with something”… The knock out drag out arguments around how BOTH of us feel like the other thinks they are wrong… I could write a single post on this. It is clear to me that this comes from both of us not feeling like what we want, how we want to parent and ultimately (unhealed stuff with our own parents) is important… and TRUST ME… I could share some stories that I either feel totally ashamed of myself for my behavior or also question what the hell I’m still doing in this marriage. Not joking. ***ALL WHILE IT BEING SO VERY IMPORTANT THAT OUR SON DOE NOT KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON BETWEEN US. IT’S IMPORTANT YOU KNOW THIS. At the end of the day, it BLOWS MY MIND how we’re all just little children inside.. ACHING to feel heard and validated. To feel like what we say is important too. Amazing how all this stuff comes up when we have to make decisions for someone else, day in and day out. Parenting is relentless. Never ending.
2. VALUES – While all this triggering was going on, who we are as people, our VALUES don’t change that much even after a little person who needs us 24 hours a day comes into our world. The fact that we both VALUE our independence… hasn’t. My husband still needs to go out and decompress after work… and I need time alone and in silence. (Even more alone time and silence are needed now after becoming a mama, as my sensitivity is now off the charts) since I am the primary care taker in my house, I mean my husband works at night… it’s mostly me caring for our son.) I was sitting with two women recently, talking about how my husband goes out once or twice a week still and I found myself conflicted when they expressed their dislike. “Girl, I wouldn’t let my husband do that.” and while I agreed that multiple times a week going out doesn’t work for me… It hit me. Saturday nights, when he goes out after his night cooking class.. is when I have the house to myself on a weekend. I don’t have to work the next day.. I look forward to the peace and quiet with a Saturday night movie of my choosing. It was in this dislike that I realized… Who my husband and I are.. hasn’t changed. We STILL need what we needed before Leo… now. Sometimes it works (like Sunday mornings papa takes Leo out for a few hours to breakfast and papa time, so I can have the house to myself) and sometimes it doesn’t (keep reading No. 3) – but in case your thinking about having a family with your restaurant man/woman or are wondering what the hell is going wrong in your family’s experience now… this is part of it.
I once wrote about intimacy and connecting in a restaurant relationship (You know, when do you see them/have sex with them) involves CREATING SACRED TIME. That is still true and frankly, more important now that we have a family. Sunday afternoons/evenings and Monday evenings are more important than EVER now. Any thing that comes up during this time that would take him or I away from this SACRED TIME, is discouraged.
3. EXPECTATIONS – Yup. You heard me. How to say this nicely…..While YES, both of us are very independent people and I LOVE that about us…and while I don’t think I expected my husband to CHANGE… I sure did expect him to EVOLVE. Like I was.. and quickly. I have been ‘hit me upside my head’ surprised at how much resistance I have gotten that WHO HE IS (independent) needs to temporarily cease while we are learning this parenting thing. You know, getting the hang, creating a routine? I know, I know… part of this is the man vs. woman problem (women are more adaptable, multi tasking is in our genes.. men are more simple… dog like) *be nice Kerilyn.* – As I had to learn ON THE FLY how to be a mother… it seemed like my husband relied on me to figure out the ropes.. and he’ll pop in when it doesn’t interfere with his thang.
I will admit that I still call him, in the middle of an argument, a “pop in parent”, not because he works different hours (which i am totally cool with STILL) – it’s that when he is here.. he’s still not HERE. The fucking phone addiction that I KNOW so many of you struggle with, I got it going on too. Part of the unspoken expectation on my part is that when he’s home, he’s HOME. But I truly believe that threatens his independence (and triggers his undiagnosed ADD) AND… brings up his unhealed stuff with his own parents, so in order to NOT face his uncomfortable feelings, he checks out.
Our therapist tells him that when, what he’s focused on, when he’s with his family.. is NOT his family… it’s the SAME as if he’s not there.
This is how I feel when my son is sitting on the floor playing and my husband is on his chair, looking at his phone instead of on the floor playing with the legos. I GET it… they don’t slow down at work, and being home with not much to do but play with your little one might sound like HELL to our restaurant men/women, but they need to GET that that’s what the EXPECTATIONS are, when you have a family. *or maybe I am crazy. mmm, nah, ask my therapist.
My expectation that yes… while I’m totally OKAY with you going out on Saturday nights… It does NOT work for me that you tell me, on a Wednesday night after your class ended, that you’re going out for a smoke (he’s a cigar smoker, bleh) and if I say no… I’m the bad person.
What? I have to remind you that you can’t just GO OUT WHENEVER YOU WANT?
You get the point, I know you do and let me tell you, this shit is EXHAUSTING.
What’s underneath this… is this assumption that my husband doesn’t understand what he’s doing…. when he ‘acts a fool’… I literally do not know if he does know but doesn’t want me to rain on his freedom parade.. or he’s just that stupid (remember.. simple… dog like) I don’t know. But what I DO know is it doesn’t work for me.
Finally – I will tell you I AM NOT PERFECT. I ended up having a C Section, was understandably bummed about that but then I wasn’t able to breastfeed which put me into a spiralling post partum depression and then we moved and then I wasn’t working (read: money probs) and then and then and then….. Who I was MYSELF changed, but to ME… it was more towards who I really am inside. Sensitive, empathetic… searching. Being a mama has allowed me to be who I really am inside… a neat freak who likes routine… who values independence and wants her son to find his own independence…. While on the OUTSIDE.. it probably looks like I’m a mess to my husband… who I am on the INSIDE is more resolved and certain than I’ve ever been and damn if that has been so awesome and SO… OUT OF CONTROL for my husband. HE needs to go out… I need to be OFF and in the quiet now. Same independence, just before Leo.. I would meet girlfriends, and be more social. I don’t have the energy for that, as much now. My husband really thinks that’s depression and we have had multiple therapy sessions about why I AM NOT HAPPY and I try to tell him I AM HAPPY.. just very differently than what HAPPY means to him (on the outside).
Becoming parents has made us drift apart and while we very much STILL love each other, it’s just different now. I’m just not sure we would ever be able to connect in the same, mutual happiness ways again. Before Leo, what united us was going out to dinner…. now… we still do that but then whether we let him read books at the table or (gasp) use our phone to watch PBS Kids app so we can eat in peace comes into question (you know, TRIGGERS) and it’s a vicious cycle.
At the end of the day, right here, right now as I type this.. I do NOT know what’s going to happen. We’re in therapy weekly, definitely one step forward, two steps back, kinda progress. I think we both are happy we are doing this as a way of doing all we can to see if we can make this work. At the end of the day, we want to do what’s best for our beloved Leonardo, and I KNOW that both of us are commited to that. I am SO grateful for my husbands willingness to do therapy in the first place… but I wish that meant I knew what was going to happen.
Sadly, I don’t.
I have thought many times about dissolving this website through the past two years. We were struggling SO MUCH that I would tell my closest friends, “What do I still have to offer these chefs wives? How can I be a coach, and try to help others when I am ON MY KNEES in my own restaurant relationship” but still, my kindreds told me to just go easy with myself and when the time came, it would feel right to write again.
I still don’t know if now is that time, but after a call with a chef wife a few weeks, ago, another chef wife and MAMA… talking about the SAME EXACT THINGS I am experiencing myself… I used my experience, not to tell her how to work through it, but to tell her she’s not alone. I think both of us felt better that we’re not CRAZY (it’s still SO EASY to compare ourselves and even our parenting methods to regular 9-5 relationships – NOT POSSIBLE) So I thought I’d write to say I’m still here, if you need me, you need to know I am still just as passionate about shining a light on the restaurant industry, what it’s REALLY like (you know, not what the Food Network wants you to see) and that I am in the trenches with you all.
I do not have all the answers, like I said, before you dive in you should read my beliefs on why I created this place in the first place, but I hope this might help some of you out there. I still believe we’re the glue that holds our chefs, and our relationships together. I KNOW we are stronger than anyone (especially ourselves) are willing to give us credit for… I just want to say that While I’ve been out…I have learned SO much.
Maybe so I could find a way to help all of you… who knows.
In the meantime, I’m here. If you want to contact me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org *The website has been hit with a tremendous amount of spam comments over the years and so there have been a few comments that have slipped through the cracks, I’m sorry.*
I am finally finding renewed energy to rebuild my coaching practice in order to make my third dream come true. I have some availability with taking on clients, if you’re interested, and am working on a few other focuses (I’ve become obsessed with understanding FEAR and how it stops us from anything and everything in our life) and so… I’m still here working on Dream No. 3.
Finally – I am considering a Gathering in the Savannah,GA area…. if you are a chef wife or know one who would be interested, shoot me an email and let me know so I can coordinate.
Until next time… I’m here, doing this hard work with you.
Don’t give up *OR…. give up but do it because you know that’s what’s best for YOU. I mean this.