GUEST POST: Gettin’ Married and Gettin’ Divorced

September 25, 2014 in Coping, Life, Restaurant Industry

lightstock_120134_small_kerilyn_

photo credit: Lightstock

Guest Post by Annie Wang from frites & fries  . You can also find her on her own site – j. annie wang

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Some of you have entertained the thought of leaving your relationship. Some of you may have even fantasized how much easier life would be if you weren’t worried about his (or her) health all the time, hoping that they have enough covers for the week to make rent, or praying that the big meeting with restaurant investors will pull through. I’ve been there. But there’s one thing that makes me a little bit different: my Chef and I are divorcing.

It all happened very quickly. One day I was engaged, then married, and then the D-word happened.  There’s so many reasons why this decision happened — people divorce for multiple reasons after all but I would be lying if I said the restaurant industry wasn’t a part of it; it wasn’t because I couldn’t deal with his lifestyle or hours — I just couldn’t deal with someone who couldn’t put me or us first. The us part was so severe that we never celebrated an anniversary, not even our first wedding anniversary. On our first wedding anniversary, I had a bottle of champagne signed by 20 of our closest relatives in my lap while I sat alone at home in tears. A “make-up” celebration didn’t even happen because of the restaurant. The restaurant was more important than our relationship. But he doesn’t deserve all the blame. I played my role too.

Our relationship started out strong: a rom-com like story of how it all began, an unexplainable chemistry. We were both passionate about our careers and we supported each other as much as we could. At one point, I felt like we could conquer anything and take over the world because we complimented each other so well. Knowing what his goals were as a chef, I was always behind him 100%. Eventually, I was so focused on him because I wanted him to succeed in New York so much. Gradually, I forgot about my needs and wants shortly before he started forgetting what mine were. Overtime, our lives were so deeply entwined but my voice was almost non-existent and I had lost myself. Perhaps I was so too immersed in the New York City restaurant culture (the gossip!). Perhaps my competitive spirit clouded my own ambitions. Perhaps I wanted the fairy tale to work out — in the dream world, he would have his restaurant and I would visit him with our two chubby toddlers before dinner service so we could work on our cookbook. But now, I can’t tell if that was his dream or mine now because our priorities were skewed and had been so for so long.

While both of us had accomplished our original goals in New York (I finished graduate school and he had opened a restaurant in Manhattan as Executive Chef), our ambitions were stronger than our love for each other. One of the core elements of a loving relationship is having a supportive presence. In the early stages of our relationship, I always “understood” why he had to work late and why he couldn’t come to an event with me (work or personal). In retrospect, I should’ve pushed for that “me”-time in the beginning. If I did, I wondered, would we have celebrated a wedding anniversary? Would we have even celebrated an anniversary while we were dating? Who knows.

Do I regret being married to a chef? Nope. I learned a lot from it. Not just about being married to the industry but just marriage in general. Once the legal steps started, I learned a lot about myself too – about what I needed and what I wanted. There’s one thing that I have to thank him for though: if it weren’t for him, I may not have re-discovered my love for food or pursued my current career path. In fact, I would have never continued my career in food if it weren’t for him, divorce or no divorce.

Connect w/ Annie on  Twitter and Instagram

Signed, Always The Bad Guy

September 13, 2014 in Coping, Life

bitch etsy

Photo Credit: House of Miranda

Before you dive in, start here.

Okay… so as you can probably assume, this subject hits home for me. Hence, why I HAVE to write about this. I’m going to do my best to not make this a bashing of my husband and of a good handful of chefs out there (perhaps yours?) but to take ownership of my OWN feelings and limiting beliefs.

No guarantees, but I’ll do my best.

Whether I actually am always the bad guy, or that’s just my perception (ding ding!), I KNOW there are so many of you, reading this, that also feel like they’re ALWAYS the bad guy in their restaurant relationships and so I write this not just for me, but also for those of you who can relate.

*And it doesn’t matter what stage of your relationship Evolution you’re in, my guess is you’ve probably already come across this feeling, at some point.

As I look back… I can honestly say I probably felt like ‘The Bad Guy’ from day one. (For simplicity’s sake, going forward, I’m going to simplify it and say TBG when appropriate) I wasn’t as understanding why my then chef boyfriend felt he HAD to go out with the Executive Chef after the restaurant closed until 5am. I definitely wasn’t as happy go lucky when, on his ONLY day off with me, he chose to go eat dim sum with a bunch of local chefs instead of spending time with me.

Not to mention my early failure to understand that he will NEVER be available on Valentines Day. (Or my birthday, Christmas, etc…)

Gosh, I can say that feeling like TBG was one of the primary reasons why I created Married to a Chef to begin with.

I wanted to find YOU… so I wouldn’t have to ALWAYS feel like The Bad Guy.

I wanted someone else who could understand HOW frustrating it can be sometimes, maneuvering through this type of relationship. (Read: understand how frustrating my man could be!) Someone who could unequivocally say….

“Kerilyn, I GET IT!”

Despite the YEARS that my now chef husband and I have been together, if I were being completely transparent, I have yet to completely surpass this feeling, and can honestly say that it’s probably the ONE thing that keeps me still feeling stuck in my partnership with my husband, when I let it.

Again, just because I am the creator and resident life coach here, does NOT mean I have it all figured out. NOPE.

I’m feeling like TBG, while it APPEARS my beloved doesn’t give one thought to how his decisions affect me. Or at least that’s my PERCEPTION of what I’m experiencing.

And I KNOW you know what happens, when I impulsively think I’m the bad guy…

Yep, I want to RUN.

*okay, I’ll admit it… sometimes I actually do. I have actually impulsively ran out of the house,  went for a drive/go to the movies/go grab my favorite sweet treat when I’m in the midst of the storm in my head.

I immediately think “See, I KNEW this would happen. There MUST be something wrong with me and I KNEW BETTER (read: I made a mistake/I’M a stupid head) and now I need to get the HELL away from him/this situation and be single again.”

Sometimes, I impulsively start planning and scheming my way back to my apartment on East Glendale Avenue where I was single and only had myself to take care of. Daydreaming of that time when I didn’t have to tell anyone what I was doing, that all my decisions were based around ME.

Then… after some period of time (which is what I really want to talk about today), I would calm down and remember that I have been through this before and I WILL get through this experience this time. I’m not so sure I’m conscious of it, but it’s only WHEN I remember that I AM strong enough… that I’m not actually the bad guy… that the rain stops and the storm clouds begin to part in my head.

Admittedly, calming down usually takes a while. Depends on how severe my feelings are of my husbands absentmindedness or my belief that I really am a stupid head. Because I know myself a smidge, I know this is one of the biggest places in my life that I sabotage myself. The messages I tell myself….

that I’m not smart enough to know what I’m doing/choosing for my life.

makes me act IMPULSIVELY when my husband does what he does.

I ran across this quote somewhere on Facebook a few weeks ago… as I read it I think I yelled YES! inside my head!

the impulse to jump ship

Anyone that has been in a relationship for more than a fortnight, can attest TIS TRUE…. the longer you know someone, the more opportunities you will have to WANT to jump ship!

You know when people say they get into an accident and their life flashes before their eyes? That’s an impulse. It’s done without conscious thought. It just happens. That’s EXACTLY how I feel when I get the impulse to run, when I think (or okay.. say to my husband from time to time) “See, there you go thinking I’m the bad guy!” All the memories from the past almost 15 years flash before my eyes, usually their the monumental occasions, like the decision to break up to be with a 9-5′r, and the decision to leave the 9-5′r and get back with my now chef husband.

These impulses stop me from being able to process what’s actually happening, and I am mindlessly REACTING out of habit. Or impulse.

The key to the quote above is in the last line…

“… defying the impulse to jump ship.”

Damn if whoever wrote this quote isn’t RIGHT ON… RIGHT?

How can we learn to DEFY the impulse to jump ship? Actually, how can we learn that it’s not actually our feelings that are hurt, not that we’re not really a stupid head, but an automatic impulse… and how to learn NOT to judge ourselves for having these impulses.

Putting your arm out to protect your children in the car is an impulse. Even if your children get frustrated or embarrassed. It happens, nothing to DO about it or judge yourself…just know it’s going to happen.

How can we learn that WHEN (not if) the impulse happens (AND IT WILL), that we want to get off this ship… that it’s not something wrong with us innately (or being THE BAD GUY), just an automatic response that has been created LONG before our realization of it.

Part of learning how to do that is to learn what MESSAGES we tell ourselves when these impulses happen. For ME… it’s that I’m an idiot (I think saying stupid head is kinder) the message is that I AM NOT TO BE TRUSTED WITH MY DECISIONS.

Yep, these messages play INSTANTLY when something happens that makes me knee jerk into thinking I’m the bad guy. I’m not even conscious of them in the moment. Where did these messages come from? Well, you probably can guess it… it’s a summation of the ASSUMPTIONS that I thought I was being taught by my parents, my teachers… etc…  It most likely isn’t that they said I’m not to be trusted, but because that’s the message I THOUGHT they were saying… that’s what I took in.

Is it TRUE that I’m not to be trusted? NO.
Do my parents think I’m not to be trusted? I really hope not.
Did my teachers think I was an idiot? I’d like to think not.

But who knows… that ONE moment when I was eager to do something and my dad didn’t think it was a good idea… or when I didn’t do as well on a test as I thought… that look in my moms eye when she sees the score… could’ve in fact PERMANENTLY created a message that I began to play….

over and over again.  Endlessly.

I am stupid.
I am not to be trusted.

It happens that fast.  To the point that it becomes my default. An impulse.

Does this make sense?

Then we bring these impulses into our lives.. we project them onto everything we see.. then life actually becomes what we are thinking already.. because we are telling ourselves some pretty nasty messages.

Here is the blow by blow of what happens in the moment… I am writing this to see if you recognize a pattern for you.

1. My husband handles something differently (like how we take care of our son or choosing to go out after service, etc)
2. I instantly, without any thought fire up the messages that I’m stupid for making this decision to be with him in the first place, that I should not have been trusted to marry him.
3. Because I don’t LIKE that feeling, because that goes against what I REALLY know about myself, deep inside (that I am smart and I am pretty damn trustworthy)… I end up yelling at him and/ or running away.

100% IMPULSE.

It’s a tug of war… the voice telling us that we are stupid and not to be trusted which doesn’t QUITE resonate with us… with the knowing (hopefully) that we got this far and are most likely handling SO much in our restaurant relationship – SO… to test this theory out.. we ATTRACT more situations into our lives. You don’t have to believe in the Law of Attraction (even though, I did learn about it in Junior High Science Class) to sense that there is something strange going on.. .when we think something… strangely sometimes happens.

Can you see that it’s not that YOU are the bad guy, that he/she is a bad guy/wrong, or your relationship is doomed… but that this impulse happens SO FAST that we instinctively knee jerk most of our reactions. Then we attract more and more situations that look similarly, that the impulse becomes almost immediate. There is NO pause between what we’re experiencing and firing up of the messages we have unconsciously believed.

I’m not going to leave you with any sort of divine A-HA moment except maybe… after reading this, you can simply take a look at your own impulses, what messages INSTANTLY play in our minds… not to try to change them or deem them insane… but just take awareness of them. MAYBE if we can just take notice when we are reacting out of impulse… we can then start to create a distance from how fast the impulse occurs. MAYBE EVENTUALLY, we can learn to see it for what it is.. an impulse and not an accurate view of what’s happening in the moment.

Eventually. TRUST me… I am no where NEAR slowing down the impulse. But my awareness of it, after the fact, helps me to realize that when I’m yelling at my husband… when what I really need, in that moment… is a reminder that I am a SMART woman who is to be trusted with the decision to marry my husband in the first place, DESPITE the situation that is in front of me.

Again, does this make sense? I know I’m a chatty Cathy, but I hope the message you get from this is that you are NOT the bad guy. You and your restaurant man/woman/relationship are not doomed. What is doomed, HOPEFULLY are these devious messages we tell ourselves that prevent us from ever fully being present in our interactions with our restaurant man/woman.

What messages do you tell yourself that have created an impulse with how you interact with your other half that have you believing you are always the bad guy?

My ONE answer to how to connect in your restaurant relationship

August 6, 2014 in Life, Relationships, Restaurant Industry, VALUES

sacred time*photo credit – Cuddles on the Couch

Before you begin, start here.

So many times the NUMBER ONE question I get asked, about how to navigate through our restaurant relationships is…

“HOW do I find time to connect when we’re on opposite schedules, live in different cities, etc…?”

Back when my chef husband was my chef fiance, I discovered the answer to this important question, almost by accident.

My then chef fiancee was just promoted from Exec Sous to Exec Chef. After YEARS of putting his time in, he finally hit the jackpot.

Executive Chef-dom.

Which came with one HUGE perk… regular days off. Sunday/Monday were his regular days off. Which mean that I knew we could plan more things on his day off, even that quick 3.5 hour (one way) trip to and from his family on a Sunday (Gotta love a less than 24 hour trip because you have to work on Monday as a 9-5′r) Regardless, I LOVED knowing that I could count on this time.

Within a few short months, I discovered a pattern. Sunday and Monday evenings, I found us doing the same things, Sundays around 9pm, we’d meet on the couch for our favorite cable network TV shows (Homeland, True Blood, I honestly can’t remember what we were watching back in 2008/09) On Monday evenings, we’d continually find ourselves discussing what we were having for dinner, him making a delicious meal (of course that I’d then be cleaning up the entire contents of our kitchen) and we’d rent a movie On Demand (this was before redbox)

Sunday and Monday evenings. Became like clockwork. When he was asked to do something that would keep him out at these times, he would naturally decline. So would I. These short periods of time became VITAL to our connecting, when I work Monday and he’s usually out with his chef friends (or riding his Harley) on Sunday afternoons. Sunday and Monday evenings became OUR time.

SACRED.

I quickly discovered that these time slots in our busy, passing through the night schedules… allowed us to connect, to catch up, to be next to each other… and because we valued our INDEPENDENCE, it was just enough time to look forward to, that didn’t have us feeling like it was too much. *Ha… we’ve been together a LONG time, we both understand that it’s about quality, not quantity, at this point of our lives*

It was this time that really helped me NOT feel AS resentful about our limited amount of time together, for the rest of the week. I really was surprised how much it helped.

I surmised that it was this time that helped us moving forward. It felt SACRED. Sorta like when I was little, and I went to church every Sunday. It was something I could count on (even if I didn’t want to go, but that’s a different story) I know my Sunday mornings were church and breakfast with my family. I knew I couldn’t DO anything until mid-Sunday afternoon. It gave me a routine I could count on.

For most of us, significant others, we THRIVE on having something to count on, routine. (It’s because we’re the planners in our restaurant relationship, am I right?) *Again, calling EXCEPTION here.

So… what does this mean for you, my dear other half?

So my answer will ALWAYS be… to the question of how to find time to connect is to FIND SACRED TIME.

It does NOT have to be an all day affair. My own guess is that a minimum of ONE HOUR of sacred time a week… WILL help you feel grounded and rooted in your restaurant relationship. Whether it is sitting and having coffee at the table, going grocery shopping together (don’t laugh, I know some of you shop with your restaurant man/woman) or making a meal together (or going out to eat even) Something that is REGULAR, REPEATABLE, and is done with the energy of being VALUABLE.

I am not one to guarantee anything – Life is full of exceptions, and uncertainty….  but I will continue to answer that finding SACRED TIME in your restaurant relationship IS the one thing that will help connect you (and I’ll go so far as to help you THRIVE) in your restaurant relationship.

OOH… and for those of you not in the same city/country -  I have one word for you…. SKYPE. (or FaceTime) How about making your sacred time a regular Skype date? I can imagine how SEEING each other, your facial expressions, the way you blush when he tells you he can’t wait to see you next time.. WILL help you both feel connected. I challenge you, in todays technology age, on not finding some sacred time on the regular. Even if it’s just 30 minutes. (shoot, even 15!)

I have a feeling a question some of you might be asking is… “HOW do I get my restaurant man/woman to commit to SACRED TIME?”

Honestly.. I don’t have an answer for you on that. What works for one restaurant relationship will NOT work for another. For us, it just naturally happened, we didn’t say “Hey, how about Sunday and Monday evenings we get together and connect?” I think we both would agree that since our son, we are both DESPERATE for a date night (we’re working on it!), even though we still meet together on Sunday evenings for our regular TV shows. It just became that we both like doing this one thing, and doing it together feels better than doing it apart.

It just happened.

That’s what sort of makes it feel SACRED. It has become something we don’t even have to talk about, or bring to our awareness. It’s burned into our routine, that not doing it.. isn’t an option.

I just looked up SACRED in the dictionary – the definition that stands out, among the few that are there, are

“… reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object.”

Dedication is I think the word that stands out. It’s about DEDICATION. And even though I don’t KNOW you, or know your restaurant man/woman specifically… I know that DEDICATION is just another word for PASSION. You wouldn’t be in this kind of relationship if you didn’t have the passion and dedication… and your man/woman wouldn’t be in the restaurant industry if he/she too… didn’t have the same.

The trick, as I would believe it to be, is to find the mutual dedication to devote to this small amount of time, each week. Whenever it is toward your relationship.

MAYBE that is the topic of conversation that leads you to this conclusion. Your relationship… your love… your… DEDICATION to each other.

I am convinced that you start using the words SACRED TIME in your conversations with your other half, and the space for just that will make itself known. Maybe it’ll take a few adjustments, but like church, you don’t go if you don’t WANT TO (okay, so many of us were forced to, including myself, but you get my drift) but the hope is that it’ll help bring your commitment to what you believe in, even closer than where it is now.

Maybe for you, you will need to “schedule” this time with him/her. Maybe because he/she is spontaneous, you can steer your schedule so that it appears to happen, to him/her, to just pop up every week… who knows. If finding a regular time in your week to connect, SACRED TIME, sounds like a viable option (honestly, I say it’s THE KEY to thriving in this difficult relationship) – then TRUST YOURSELF and your man/woman that you will find a way to make it work.

So if/when you next find yourself reading the question, whether it be here, on the Facebook page, or in The Village, about how to connect… I will always answer the same way…

Where do you and your restaurant man/woman have SACRED TIME in your relationship?? If you don’t… how can you find it??? And now.

Who is to blame? The man or the mission?

May 19, 2014 in Expectations, Life, Relationships

blame him for everything

image: Pinterest

Before you dive in, start here.

The topic that has come up lately has been who to blame…. The man (or woman) or the restaurant? (* see below)

Blame for what, you say? For a sub par level of communication skills, for not being present in their relationship, for choosing to spend off the clock hours at the restaurant (or hanging out with the staff) than to be at home, not keeping in contact (in any way) during one of their really long days, for not taking care of his/her family, choosing to sleep in vs. pitching in at home or with the kids/pets, for having no responsibility around finances at home (or at the restaurant if you own your own), for the RESISTANCE to talk about anything outside their comfort zone, that is obviously putting a strain on the relationship, basically a glazing over of what is a very important part of everyday life… LIFE.

And before I launch into what I want to say about this… as I’ve already mentioned here, there is ALWAYS an exception to every rule. So yes, there are those reading this right now who are not questioning where the cause is. In a perfect world, we would all like to strive to not have to feel this way but for many of us (including myself from time to time), find ourselves feeling frustrated, resentful and without understanding what’s REALLY going on in our restaurant men/womens heads…so it’s easy to want to find something to hold onto instead of constantly living in that confused and frustrated state.  No need to judge yourself harshly if you are trying to find a reason for his behavior… maybe if we talk about it, it will help us find helpful ways to create solutions, instead of staying in the state we frequently are.

So… where was I… oh yes, The man or the mission?

From the conversations I’ve seen,  this is NOT a black and white issue. Many of you want to blame the man and the same amount of you want to blame the restaurant. Understandably so, I find that there is a MUCH greater sensitivity to looking at the cause being the man… and SO much easier to blame the restaurant. I mean, who wants to find the cracks in the man that we have chosen to spend our lives with – SO much easier to look at the industry as the potential culprit for our lives unrest. Blaming the man somehow reaches the core of us about WHY we decided to accept this in the first place, and that is an area we definitely don’t feel comfortable treading. To touchy a subject to broach, so we default to blaming the ways in which the industry “Made him do it.”

Oh, and side note: I feel it important to say, the one topic that I’m NOT bringing up here, a VERY important one at that.. is that what WE think their missing… their perceived notion of what their “responsibilities” are, they don’t seem to even be aware of . I want to talk about that in another post….about what responsibility means, to us and to them. So for now, if you can… please read this post knowing that what I’m NOT talking about is “Don’t they know that life is about being responsible??” but that I’m WELL aware that’s a primary reason for our unhappiness (and feeling of being UNSAFE) which leads us to want to blame the man or the mission in the first place.

I’d like to actually look at both sides, I think like the “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” question, I don’t think there is a clear cut answer. I personally think they play hand in hand. I want to talk about this because whether you believe it’s the man or the mission… it might be good to give you an opportunity to adjust your stance, and find some greater peace in your restaurant relationship.

Let’s do “I think the RESTAURANT is to blame” first… or the mission, since it’s an obviously easier culprit (or is it?)

Of course it makes sense to point the finger at the place where he seems to get into the most trouble. Not returning your phone calls or texts while he’s on the line, getting a little too close for comfort to his/hers coworkers, coming home smelling like onions and a few too many adult beverages. From what you KNOW, it’s his place of employment that he seems to easily get swept up in, and unlike hearing how things are at the office like most 9-5′rs, the stories that come out of the restaurant can almost be a cross between a soap opera and a circus.

You might probably be thinking… “But if he didn’t work at the restaurant, he would be more interested at home, his priorities, etc…” The fact that it’s not just his body but his brain, taking up permanent residence at work, that he would be more…simply AWARE that life is going on around him while he’s living in the vortex of the kitchen. (You know.. like his children who get fed and clothed each day, homework done with his almost oblivious observation. I mean, HOW does he think this happens while he is on the line everyday?)

I’m wondering…Is that REALLY the case?

It’s EASY to want to blame the restaurant, I mean they’re all the same. No matter where he/she goes.. it’s always the same story, right? You could move to another state, he could start working at another restaurant (in another position perhaps) and still within some set time… it’s like you’re living in Groundhog day of “The same as it ever was”.

Makes sense. Here’s where I am conflicted – The unwritten rules and ways of being at the restaurant have been laid down WAY BEFORE your man or woman decided to enter the culinary field. THEY didn’t create them, they willingly (whether they were aware of the degree to which they’d be involved) entered into them. They knew it wouldn’t involve standing by a water cooler, sitting in a cubicle or having to wear a tie. YES… being interested in food was their motivation but they also knew they wouldn’t have an conventional career either.

And because going into the restaurant industry involves late nights and unconventional living, it ATTRACTS people who want those things.

Even the unsavory things…. (alcohol, debauchery, etc)

Yes, it might not be easy to hear (more like read) but I feel confident that your other half knew what being in this industry involved (at least enough to still proceed) and WANTED it (or thought he/she could rise above it) and that’s what sealed the deal that this is a road they wanted to travel down. Again, there are always exceptions, but most of our restaurant men and women are fun loving, spur of the moment, live for today kinda people. It takes a person like that to handle the long hours, the intense stress of a busy dinner service and the ability to change on a dime them so successful in what they do, and what makes us so attracted to them in general.

*I mean come on.. they’re not coming home talking about how they were in a Powerpoint meeting or how they have these reports to work on…you met them talking about the exciting people they met, the interesting ingredients they used or the challenges they were able to overcome. You KNEW either in that first moment or within a relatively short period of time… what life would look like being this this man (or woman.)

In fact, you were turned on by it.

For example… I’ll turn this on myself. I can NOT turn a blind eye to the fact that I KNEW well and good that sitting at the bar and enjoying a drink after my then chef boyfriends shift was a part of his semi-regular routine. I would even sometimes meet him towards the end of his shift, enjoy his new dish and a drink, and catch up on what happened that day… it was a sexy way of connecting early on in our relationship and yet, more than a decade later… I find myself surprised and disappointed when he comes home smelling of his favorite drink. I’m upset with him about this? Is it the restaurant to blame? The restaurant didn’t make him have a drink. Should I blame my now chef husband for working at a place that has alcohol so readily available when there was a time that I enjoyed the perks myself?? *and sometimes still do.

Honestly I don’t think I can. *But I still do.

The temptations and ways of being (nocturnal, fun loving, pushed to the edge, moving fast, coordinating parties..FUN) will ALWAYS be a part of what a restaurant IS. I mean that’s why WE want to go out to eat… to relax, to enjoy ourselves, be treated well by our servers and to partake in eating delicious food. People that work at a restaurant need to be the kind of people who ENJOY doing those things for the restaurant, don’t you think?

I mean…it’s not a library.

We know what we’re getting ourselves into when we go to a library. Quiet time, searching for what we’re looking for, finding a spot to read or do our research… all during business hours. Librarys do… what they are meant to do. To stimulate our brains, to educate us, to hopefully inspire us. People who have the mentality to work in a library… work in a library. Can you blame the library and it’s primary commandment of being quiet when we want to share an exciting (read: LOUD) story with our friends? NO. We just DON’T go to the library. Probably people who work at a library ENJOY the cerebral (and quiet) mindset that is necessary, and are married to people who find that an attractive quality.

Can we blame our significant other for being ATTRACTED to (yes, even in the good and the bad) what working in a restaurant is like.. REALLY?

Now about the man (or woman)… Lets do the upside and downside of why the finger is primarily pointing at your other half.

First, the upside. Going back to what I said earlier… there is a reason why our men and women are attracted to this type of lifestyle. These are the fly by the seat of their pants, living in the moment, and loving life people for a reason. I can’t shake the feeling that one of those reasons are their desire to do something with their hands. I see a few common threads between the chefs I know, one being the desire to take something apart and put it back together. Interestingly, my chef husband used to be a MECHANIC and it’s the SAME sort of career, just this involves food instead of car parts. To others, it’s about the science. The CHEMISTRY of the food. That’s why when I hear the word DECONSTRUCTED… I can’t help spark an image of the mad scientist, working over and over again to find the perfect formula. Finally, I liken what they do with their craft like I see a PAINTER, holding their palate full of oil paints, it takes time, dedication and focus to create a masterpiece… such is the same case of our beloveds and what lies within them to practice their passion.

That said, sitting at a desk will NOT allow our beloveds to feel like they’re doing what makes them feel mechanical, artistic and/or scientific. Most of them KNOW they’re not meant for the 9-5, to sit for 8 hours in front of a computer. They know that standing over a myriad of different ingredients is where they are meant to be.

The restaurant is just their vehicle for giving them the ability to be that mechanic, chemist or artist.

And, because we can’t take the up without the down… there are the things about the restaurant industry that ENABLES our other halves to enter into it. Like I wrote in the hard to say piece (see here), the restaurant industry is a work hard, play hard sorta business. It attracts those who want to work hard and play hard.

Okay… let’s be real, they want to be somewhere that they can work hard WHILE playing hard. Almost always at the same time.

And, just like WE NEED (again, claiming exceptions here) to feel the SAFETY of routine and predictability in our own lives, They live on the EDGE. I know my husband says “I’m a machine” when it comes to pushing himself and doing what he has to do. I know I’m NOT a machine and honestly am grateful for it, but I admire his tenacity and blazing drive to achieve his goals. I need that sometimes stubborn drive in HIM to inspire ME to move forward. (I find myself saying this, especially now as a new mama)

Do I LIKE all the things that make my man tick? Well no, but I KNOW that he doesn’t like all of my ways of doing things either. Ha ha. He doesn’t like that I’m CONSTANTLY thinking of the next step and the next step. It is, I’m SURE, like I’m always a BUZZKILL. In fact, I’ll be transparent, he regularly says, when we’re out doing something spontaneous, “Don’t ruin it.” What HE needs to have a good time (NOT thinking about the next step and the next step, is EXACTLY what makes me feel safe and therefore happy.

THAT’S WHY WE NEED EACH OTHER.

Whether he’s aware of it or not (He’s not), he needs me (to keep his next step in view) and I need him (to remind me that Life isn’t always about preparing for the next step. )

IS IT FUN? To be with someone who pushes our buttons because unconsciously we are with them because WE need the reminder?

Uh, NO.

But I think at the end of the day… I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The man (*) and the mission are both REASONS we are where we are. We are INDEPENDENT, ACHIEVEMENT SEEKING  individuals… attempting to always create BALANCE.

So, whether you focus your grievances on the man (*) or the mission… maybe you can take this moment to see how.. the reason he IS the way he/she is, WHY he works where he/she does… is exactly the reason why you are the way you are. MAYBE… just MAYBE.. there IS nothing to blame here.. but instead, to be grateful for (I know.. I’m pushing it). My prediction about you is that you’re NOT the kind of person, deep down, who likes to watch life go by (like some of the loved ones in your life do) your a risk taker (even if it’s only in your head), you have your own dreams and goals… but are sometimes too stuck in your head to make them happen.

Maybe… just maybe the man (or woman)… who loves his/her mission… helps us get out of our heads long enough to encourage us to get to where we want to be.

If we could only always remember that. Right? Damn if that’s not the tricky part.

QUESTION: Which one is your other half… mechanic, chemist or artist? I would LOVE to know!
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* For the purposes of trying to keep it simple and catchy, the title of this post is man – versus man or woman). I KNOW there are a lot of women chefs out there in relationships with their fellow significant others, but at this point, most of what I’m hearing is about the men of this equation. Writing to my known audience.

{GUEST POST} Help! We are raising a family AND my husband is a chef!

April 24, 2014 in Family, Life

Help - Emulsified Family

Before we had kids, I of course had all the answers.  I loved kids.  They were so little and cute, sweet and cuddly, full of hugs and slobbery kisses and loved to draw you pictures and give you things they had made.

What’s not to love?  I loved them so much I taught elementary school for 11 years. Everyone said that parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever do, but really?  How hard could it be?  (Stop laughing at me.  Really.  Don’t think I can’t hear you through the computer screen.)

Then we had kids.

Yes, all the above are true.  Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t stop with the slobbery kisses and cuddling, which we so soon found out.

  • When do I get a break?
  • What do you mean all babies don’t breastfeed easily?
  • Why do I have to keep disciplining them for the same thing over and over again?  You think they would get it by now!
  • Why are they so messy?
  • What do you mean I am going to go through this entire pack of newborn diapers in just a day and a half?
  • Why do they not want to eat the meal I’ve prepared?
  • Why won’t they stop talking?

Oh the list could go on and on . . .

Now I say the above jokingly.  I did know it was going to be hard, but did not expect it to be quite as challenging as it is on a day to day basis.  My experience with kids was that they left at 3:30 pm each day.  So if it was a tough day, I at least got a break in the evening.  Your own kids never leave . . . they are with you 24/7.

While you love your children more than you could have ever imagined, you never get a day off of parenting.  Some days will be easier than others, but there will always be a sweet (or not so sweet depending on the day) little person who needs you.

I truly do love being a parent.  It’s hard to remember what my life was like 10 years ago before our first daughter was born.  I love the time I get to spend with our girls and am so grateful for the chance to be their mom.  Time goes by so much faster now that we have kids.  I really have no idea where the last 9 ½ years went . . .

So now that we’ve established how wonderful and challenging parenting is, let’s throw the schedule of a Chef into the mix.  AHHHHHHHH!!!

If your chef/husband or significant other has a schedule anything like mine does, it is full of long hours and can change at any moment!

Currently my husband is the Executive Chef at Palisade, a large fine dining restaurant in Seattle, WA.  He works between 70-80 hours a week.  I am a stay at home Mom and do a little website development and blogging while the girls are resting, sleeping, or playing nicely.  2 of our girls are in school and 1 is still home with me, anxiously awaiting Kindergarten next year.

Now fortunately, I am able to stay home full time, so whatever days my chef/husband is off, I get to see him.  We can go out and do things in the middle of the week, and actually prefer this as things are less crowded.  While his schedule makes it hard to do things with other couples and families, we make it work for us and we HAD a decent amount of time together as a family.  We even managed to find time to talk with the kids around.

Then came Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade . . .

No longer were week days an option for us to do things as a family.  Some of our family was gone most of the day and then there was homework, dinner, baths, etc. when they got home.  Weekends are busy at the restaurant, so my chef/husband was usually working.  So that now leaves us with no day our entire family is off at the same time.  HELP!!

We have to try hard to find time to do things as family.  Advance preparation (if possible) seems to help (most days).  If I know the days my chef/husband will be off, we try to get ahead on piano and homework, so we can spend the evening together.  On his days off, I try to be as organized as possible so I don’t have to spend as much time cleaning, cooking and doing laundry.

On his days off, my chef/husband also tries to find time to do things with the girls individually.  It doesn’t happen every day, but even something as simple as playing Wii with “just Daddy” is special and they love every minute of it.  (They also tend to follow him around like he is in a parade, making it a bit tough to relax.  But that deserves a post all it’s own!)

Because of my chef/husband’s long hours, a lot of the parent responsibilities fall on me.  This can get discouraging at times.  Like we established above, parenting is hard work!  It’s not easy to be consistent with discipline and to stay on top of homework, AWANA verses, multiplication tables, teeth brushing, etc. when it’s just me most of the time.  It’s hard to ask for help when I need it, even though I know friends and family are there for support.  We all get overwhelmed as parents, especially if much of the burden is on our shoulders.  You’re not alone.

Because so much of the parenting falls to me, I find that if I don’t take time to take care of myself, my family suffers.  It’s not easy to find time to exercise and do things I enjoy that don’t involve the kids, but those things are so important!  If I’m stressed out and exhausted, there’s no way I can take care of my family.

So if you are feeling discouraged and ready to scream “Help!” remember you are not alone.

I would encourage you to communicate with your chef/husband or significant other about your frustrations and work through them together as a couple and family.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Hire a babysitter, ask a friend to watch the kids for an hour or two so you can get some rest of take a break.

And take care of yourself!  You can’t take care of others if you are an emotional wreck.  (Trust me, I’ve tried and it doesn’t work out well.)

We would love to hear your thoughts on how you manage to combine restaurant and family life.  Let’s get the conversation started in the comments below!  J

Emulsified Family

Jennifer Small is a stay at home mom and blogger who has been married to Chef Tom Small for 18 ½ years.  They have 3 children and reside in the Seattle, Washington area.

EmulsifiedFamily.com

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