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while you were out.

April 24, 2016 in Coping, Dreams, Expectations, Family, Life, Relationships

while you were outphoto credit

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.

Literally.

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 kerilyn@marriedtoachef.com *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.

always,
Kerilyn

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GUEST POST: On taking the Next Step – When do you know you’ve done all you can?

February 25, 2015 in Expectations, Family, Relationships

say it before it's too late

Photo

My Story

Probably the hardest issue I dealt with concerning my husbands job as a chef; was spending quality time together. We were so young when we got married and his dream was to work as a chef and cook amazing food. When he began as an apprentice I was heavily pregnant with our first and only child, it was difficult because I was alone almost every night.

I remember being terrified that I would go into labor and my significant other would miss the birth of our child. That fear was unreasonable as my labor began while we were both off work. I had stopped work a few weeks leading up to my due date and he was taking holiday. It was January, which is not a busy time in the restaurant, so we were together the afternoon our daughter came into the world. Apart from this, I was always pretty secure about being alone. In fact I love time to myself. It just began to feel like it was too much.

After our child was born I stayed at home with our child. This was important to me as I was raised by a mother who chose not to work and I always believed that one parent should be at home. As I said above, many of our disagreements and fights were about how we never saw each other and I was always alone at family reunions or regular dinners with his parents or my father. The resentment I felt began to build and while it almost destroyed our marriage, but somehow, we got through it. My significant other and I are not together anymore, but it had nothing to do with his job.

Do All You Can To Make It Work!

So I am going to share with you some things we tried to get things back on track and what actually worked for us. Once my daughter got to school, I worked part-time so I was able to be more flexible and be available for my child. My chef husband worked at a popular restaurant, where he eventually became head chef. This promotion occurred after we had parted ways, but I now see why he worked so hard because as the head chef, he does not seem to be working as many long hours these days and has more time for our daughter.

Make the Most of the Time You Have Together

When he first began his apprenticeship he was required to work split shifts, which meant going into work at around 10 am to do the lunch time service and then he would come home for a few hours and return to the restaurant at 5 pm for dinner service. It was a brutal schedule, requiring him to work seven days per week at times, he did get Monday’s off and sometimes Tuesdays during the quiet times. He did split shifts on Thursday to Sunday, so that left Monday totally free, Tuesday and Wednesday he was free until 5 pm. We had to make the most of the time we had together.

The warmer months in an inland town send people running for the coast, so there were times where we could take advantage of this. The slowest times were often some long weekends, but sometimes there were long weekends where people would stay in town and this was when the restaurant would get busy. The winter months are often busy and Easter and Christmas are too, especially December with Christmas parties, as I KNOW you are also familiar with yourself.

Date Night

We often had a date night on Tuesday if he was off and sometimes we would arrange to do something special with our daughter. If he wasn’t needed until 5 pm on Sundays we would have a picnic, a trip to the zoo, or arrange a get together with our families. This strategy did work for a while, however we sometimes did not stick with it and the fighting started again. A friend of mine told me to create a playbook. What is a playbook you ask? My friends saved us a lot of arguments in any case.

Create a Playbook

A playbook is a simple exercise book or note book that you buy from the newsagent or supermarket and you write down your favorite places to go and things you love to do. When you are stuck for an idea of what to do one day or night, refer to your playbook, pick a restaurant you both love, call them and make a reservation. Don’t get into the habit of having your dates at the restaurant where your significant other works, you could regret this when he or she is in the kitchen talking shop with the other chefs and you are left alone at the table. You also need to be communicating about the distance in your relationship!

So, back to the playbook; when you go somewhere new and you both loved it, write it down in your playbook. Keep it handy, like on the coffee table in the living room, so if you think of something the two of you can do – write it down immediately before you forget. Spending quality time with the one you love is difficult for any relationship, so the playbook might just make reconnecting just that little bit easier.

For me, the playbook was a God-sent when it came to communicating and avoiding unnecessary arguments or disagreements, simply because it was created by both myself and my significant other and it was created from all the “Likes” we have in common.  How can there be a disagreement when we choose something we both loved? It’s just impossible!  Aside from this factor, the playbook was a great activity that helped us learn more about each other, interact regularly with one another and most importantly it allowed us to spend “Quality Time” together.  This was the best, most important part of the effectiveness of the playbook. 

Marriage Counseling

Marriage or relationship counseling is something many couples might do, but honestly, I believe that if you bring in a counselor and they cannot help you then where do you go from there. Counseling should be left as a last resort, I would focus your efforts elsewhere in your marriage first. There are plenty of ways to reconnect your relationship.

For us, marriage counseling was a whole other story!  It gave me and my significant other permission to argue during our counseling sessions, which most often times was continued as home.  In my experience I think this created more issues for us, rather than helping to resolve them.  If we had only been able to communicate better at home, or at least had time to, I personally wouldn’t have involved a third party.  I would have found other solutions for home.

Those Who Nap Together – Stay Together

If he or she comes home from the lunch service and needs a nap, then join them for a nap, at least until the kids return from school. Try to have a nap during the day and be up at night when he or she gets home, so you can be with them during their period of winding down. This is not easy when you have a job or kids and need to be up early. Friday and Saturday nights should be taken advantage of here, when your significant other comes home at around midnight or later, there’s no reason why you cannot be there to greet him or her.

There is no problem that couldn’t use a little cuddling right? For me, it always made me feel closer and more connected to my partner.  Nothing else in the world matters when you experience that feeling!

If the ideas above and your own ideas have already failed and you have tried marriage counseling, gave it your best shot, and not just made a half-hearted effort, and things are still a mess and left unresolved. Going to marriage counseling takes commitment to a schedule and it might be difficult to fit this into your significant other’s schedule, but if the two of you are serious about the health of your marriage, then you must attend counseling regularly and for at least three months. Again, I must point out that if marriage counseling does not work for you and your significant other, you might need to make a hard decision.

When We’ve Done All We Can

My partner and I tried everything we could to keep our marriage in tact, but nothing seemed to fix it. When we were left with no communication because the arguments were never-ending, many tears fell and everyday was a fight with not an ounce of joy – I realized it was over. This was most devastating!

You may have gotten to the point in your marriage where there is nothing left to do that will resolve this situation.  Sometimes we move heaven and earth to fix our marriages and they are still unhappy and we have no other option but to contact a family attorney and discuss a separation or divorce.  Not sure if it’s time, then you may want to checkTell-Tale Signs That It’s Time to Divorce”. Although this is sometime the last resort, you still want to get through it with as little pain as possible, so you wouldn’t want to try handling it on your own.

As I reflect upon the past, we really could have done more, we gave up too soon.  One thing I take away from this experience, is that being married to a chef or being a chef who is married takes commitment, time, love, communication and especially understanding.  The hardest thing for me was walking away and always feeling like I could have done more.  A life of regret is never an easy one.  It was just easier to avoid the problems than face them head on.  Which I think was probably my biggest downfall – always acting like there weren’t any issue.  As I look back now, I wish I had a chance to do it over again, there is so much I would have done differently.

About the Author:

Jennifer Caughey is a content writer who has written this guest contribution on behalf of Colgan & Associates, a York family attorney.  Jennifer herself used to be a chef, and was also once married to a chef for 15 years.  She feels that it is an utter tragedy when a marriage may face challenges or end in divorce as hers did, mostly because there was no effort put into fixing it.  She likes to offer significant others her tips how to make restaurant marriages and relationships work and overcome the hard times together.

Connect with Jennifer on Twitter.

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{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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Tom Small | Executive Chef and Proud papa

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Clearing the air – A letter to my family and friends.

May 9, 2012 in Everybody Else, Family, Life

letters

Source: topit.me via shane on Pinterest

 

Dear Mom and Dad, sis, bro, Auntie, my Besties or any other friends or loved ones, worrying about me, asking/warning me about why I am in my restaurant relationship,

I get it.

I really do. You’re worried about me.

  • You hear about me being alone in the evenings and on weekends, NOT with my boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancee or husband/wife, and you’re worried that I’m lonely.
  • You see me making arrangements to come home for Thanksgiving  by myself, and you’re concerned that he/she doesn’t have the time to be with me.
  • You are always wondering “Where is (insert their name here)?” when it comes to getting together. You know, happy hours, concerts, picnics, cookouts, movies, birthday parties…celebrations.
  • You’ve heard that after my restaurant man/woman works a 10-16 hour day, they might go out for a few drinks and possibly get drunk and that makes you feel like they are not taking care of me. (or themselves for that matter)
  • You see how I am usually the one at home with the bebes, and you wonder “Where the hell is this guy/this woman when their family needs them at home?”
  • You can sense my frustration when you ask me what I’m doing this weekend with (insert their name here) when you know they are most likely working.
  • You know, that awkward moment between us when you want to say something but I already know what you’re going to say so one or both of us avoid the topic all together?

Yea. I want you to know, I know.

I wanted to send this letter to you so you know, that I know you’re worried about me.

Thank you for being concerned about me. It means a great deal to me. (Even if I don’t know how to express that to you)

I want to try to explain so you hopefully will feel better about why I am where I am.

I can’t promise that this will help ease all your worry, but will give you a sense that I know what I’m doing… even if it seems like I don’t.

There are three places I can be:

1. I just started dating someone in the restaurant industry and I am still figuring out if this is what I want, right now it’s fun and exciting.
2. I have been with my restaurant man/woman for a while now, am still not sure, but until I know, I am sticking around.
3. I am fully aware of the ups and downs of this type of relationship, I’m aware that I’ve accepted them all, (in good times and bad) and have no intention of going anywhere else. (in this instance, it’s usually “Till death do us part.”

Please read my response based on the phase that i’m in, so you can get a more specific answer to hopefully help you understand.

1. I just started dating someone in the restaurant industry… right now it’s fun and exciting.

I know it must look like I’ve lost my mind. This is definitely not the kind of relationship that you expected me to ever be in. Perhaps, it wasn’t mine either. (Or, if I have had any early experience with the industry myself, this kind of relationship might’ve been tempting to try out at some point and maybe that time is now.)

I understand why you’re worried. I do. This is something TOTALLY different than what most relationships look like, the hours we’re together, the type of job he/she has…it makes sense you’d be concerned. Yes, we don’t see each other often, but when we do, we have SO much fun! He/She takes me to all these amazing restaurants, I’ve eaten food I usually would NEVER consider trying (or affording), never mind he/she is SO connected to where to eat and the people who make it happen, that this MUST be what it’s like being one of the Rich and Famous! They are SO passionate about what they do that its contagious! It makes me want to find something I feel passionate about myself!

I’m also learning the not so fun part too. He/She is usually so busy at the restaurant, that as you’ve heard, I can feel lonely at times. (I know.. hearing me feel lonely is why you’re worried about me.) I miss him/her when I don’t get to see them on the weekends, and we don’t actually talk much because when he/she is at work, because they are usually being pulled in so many directions. I won’t lie, it does cause arguments sometimes, because it’s so easy to feel like I’m not important. I try to tell him/her how it makes me feel, but I’m not sure he/she gets it because they seem to always be needed at the restaurant. Because of this, I’m learning that:

a) Because I too, am such a busy person… with my girlfriends, my job and my active social life, that it’s actually kinda nice, being able to do what I want to do on my own time, focusing on myself, and can still hang out with my girlfriends without feeling guilty OR

b) I don’t really like always being on my own. It definitely has it’s moments, but I’m realizing that I might want to be in a relationship with someone who will be around when I’m available.

Either way, I’m still not sure if I want do do this long term, it’s still too soon to tell, but for the most part, I’m having fun. I’m learning a lot about myself and what I’m looking for (and not looking for) in a relationship, so for now, please don’t worry. You want me to go out there and do it all, well trying out different types of relationships is one way to do it. :)

2. I have been with my restaurant man/woman for a while now, am still not sure, but until I know, I am sticking around.

We’ve been together a while now, have settled into a groove. I know when I’ll see him/her and look forward to those moments. I love it when I’m able to support him/her, makes me feel like I’m a part of his/her vision. Yes, those lonely moments are still there. There are times when I don’t mind so much and others when I doubt whether we have what it takes to do this for the rest of my life. He/She have their shortcomings, as I do too… and like any couple, we work through them as they arise. The excitement of always going to different restaurants have settled down a bit, I have learned a lot about how the industry works, by hearing about it through his/her experiences… and still find it’s never a dull moment in the restaurant. At this point we:

a) have talked about what his/her future plans are and they seem to include me. There are definitely things I’d like to work on before we take it to that next step, but for now I like where things are and are excited to see whats to come! OR

b) don’t really talk much about what they want for the future, part of what I really like about them is their ability to really be in the moment. While that pushes on me sometimes because I like to know what I’m doing, I’m still learning a lot about myself and how I can maybe not worry so much about everything in the future. Taking it a day at a time.

Either way, like most couples, we have good moments and not so good ones (as I’m sure you do too), there are things I wished we had (a day off TOGETHER, for instance) and some moments that I will never forget (like how he/she rolls out the red carpet when I take YOU to go to eat at his/her place, remember that?) There are so many things I love about where we are, but I’ll admit, I’m still not 100% sure this is long term. It’s those tough times that show me our real strength or weaknesses. I really want to figure out whether I want this for the long haul, if I can deal with the tough times, before I decide to go anywhere.

3. I am fully aware of the ups and downs of this type of relationship, I’m aware that I’ve accepted them all, (in good times and bad) and have no intention of going anywhere else. (in this instance, it’s usually “Till death do us part.”

I don’t know if I can remember the specific moment or not, but it hit me… I am EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be in this restaurant relationship. I love him/her very much, I am absolutely aware of the ups and downs that the industry brings and feel I have what it takes to do this for the rest of my life. YES, I still don’t get to spend every evening/weekend together, but it’s actually not that as bad as I originally thought. I have learned to be self sufficient and work around his/her schedule in order to create moments for just us. I know he/she works really hard and I’m really proud to watch what he’s/she’s creating. I can see his/her dreams come true and I want to be a part of that. I’m not oblivious to the challenges either. I know I am/I’ll be the one doing most of the care taking as we begin to have a family, and:

a) I’m hopeful that with a little creative planning both in and out of his career trajectory, we can most likely carve out regular moments of special time – both together as a couple and as a family. I look forward to creating our own traditions and rituals (Yes, even around the holidays too. Thanksgiving might be officially and permanently rescheduled)

b) I have learned that in this industry, it takes lots of hard work, and persistence to make it. He/she is working so hard on his/her dream, and I fully support him/her. I am happy to be the one, standing on the sidelines cheering, while they work hard to make their dreams come true. I know that all their hard work will pay off and I want to be right there when they reap the rewards. I understand that YES… this is NOT the typical kind of relationship. If our relationship was a sport, we’d be a relay race than a football team. He/She does their thang and then it gets handed off to me. (Most of the world is used to the Football team mentality, everyone on the field at the same time.) And BONUS – He/she supports me in making my own dreams come true. He/She is MY number one fan in what I want to accomplish.  Together, with continued devotion and dedication, I believe we can have the best of both worlds.

All this is to tell you I NEED and WANT your support.

I know this relationship looks very different from how you live your life, the challenges, and goals/dreams are different too. I know there are challenges… things to work out and “get creative with”, but what, in life ISNT like that, right? Anything worth having involves putting some work into it, right? I just wanted you to know that I’m alright, that I APPRECIATE your concern when you hear the times when I’m not sure how to handle things and I want you to know I promise I’m figuring things out.

*BONUS – Now I have this AMAZING community here to help me when I’m struggling and celebrate with me in the monumentous moments! I know you might not completely understand where I’m at but TRUST ME – There are SO many significant others out there that understand and can relate to EXACTLY where I am. I KNOW I am not alone.

At the end of the day, what I’ve concluded is to ask myself “Who says what any relationship is supposed to look like/be like anyway?” Isn’t it up to each individual to craft what they want it to look like? It makes me excited to know I can learn to maneuver through the parameters of this relationship, reach out for help when I need it (And I promise I will) and enjoy the benefits when they come (and they will too!) Whether we’re together a few months or years or a lifetime… I want you to know I hear you and appreciate that you care about me, and I’m excited to see what’s to come! My wish is that you will be excited for me too!

In gratitude,
You’re loving sister/brother – daughter/son – niece/nephew- friend.

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On being Married to a Chef with Children

January 30, 2012 in Family, Life

distressed family time

Source: craftsbyamanda.com via Camille on Pinterest

I am almost without words (and that doesn’t happen too often) at how valuable a resource it’s been for me to hear of how other Significant Others are doing it… being married to a chef WITH children. Your insight and wisdom (sprinkled in with a mix of light heartedness and sass) has proven comforting to me as I go forward on my journey to conceive. Thank you.

Today you will hear from another GIFTED writer.. (you ladies need to start writing books!) Reading her words… I almost instantly feel at peace, not so alone and freaked out. I’m pretty sure you will get the same vibe from her… Thank you Sara!!!

The Single Married Mother

We knew we weren’t ready for a baby, but there was, indeed, a blue line, and also, a massive change of heart. There were tears, and fears, and hysterical to-be grandparents.

“You can’t move across the country with our grand baby in your belly!” my mother exclaimed. I was only a few weeks pregnant, and already this baby was changing every plan, for myself, my husband and our respective families. But, we trekked across the plains and mountains, with a jug of homemade ginger honey juice to calm the nausea of the bumpy, bloated ride. There was an initial craze of finding jobs, getting lost in our new North Western city, and surviving the daily freak-out sessions of “What are we doing????”

I remember sitting on the couch one evening as my husband worked the dinner shift, feeling like Dorthy in Oz, dropped from the sky in to a strange and confusing land. You see, I am also a chef. I was used to late nights, late mornings, adrenalin, drinking, being bawdy and brutal to my body. Suddenly, I was sitting on the couch, watching American Idol through tears, because I had no idea how to live this lonely, sedate, pregnant life. I especially did not know how to do it with out my partner, and I was in a panic as to how I was going to do it with a baby in tow.

The first two years were very hard. Initially, I was in baby bliss, and relished the new life as mother. However, about three months in, the doubt and the loneliness began to take it’s toll. Being in a new city, with few people to call “friend” made the situation even harder. I tried a Mom’s group, but soon didn’t want to give up the morning time that I had to be with my husband. No other mother in the group had a partner that worked evenings, so I was still at a loss as to solving the crisis of the long, sad evenings.

Eventually, I decided I had to move closer to family. For me, I just had to be in a familiar place with familiar faces while I tried to figure out this whole new world. Even though I am completely versed in what it means to be a chef, and the demands of following the dream, I found myself fuming at the culture I had once loved. The tension in my marriage pushed us to breaking points, and I was to my wits end, filled with resentment for this life I felt was so unfair.

Some of you have been living the life of a restaurant workers’ partner for some time. Others of you may be like me, suddenly shocked at the difficulty of raising a child while the other parent works the crazy hours expected of a chef, restaurant manager, server or bartender. We have friends and family asking “ How do you manage?”, and “Why don’t they do something else?” as if it were as easy as going to a store and picking a new livelihood off the shelf. We have friends inviting us to couples parties on Saturdays, and in-laws vying for time on the one precious day off. We have ourselves, wondering what we’ve gotten our into and how we are going to manage. Most importantly, we have our children, wanting to know where their other parent is, and why they aren’t home in time for dinner.

Today, I feel like I have come along way in regards to how I handle the circumstances of my life with a restaurant loving spouse. I have stopped fighting the reality so much, and I have pushed myself to expand my mind and my horizons in order to be a better mother and wife. I suppose you could say I have hit my stride, and I have found a way to live my life that I can embrace more fully. Of course, I still have my moments lamenting the demands of my husband’s career, but, miraculously, those times are quite few these days. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my learning with you, as my own greatest comfort has come from meeting other mothers who lift my spirit with their experiences and the knowledge that my situation is not unique.

Your love and commitment to your partner is such a great foundation for a family, and I commend you for that. I hope that these ideas and suggestions inspire you, and that you always remember you aren’t alone in the struggle.

Expand Your Community

 

I cannot stress the importance of this. Even in the case that you have friends and family in close proximity, the opportunity to have a wide range of people (especially other mothers) in your circle will greatly improve your ability to handle the lonely nights, and dateless evenings out.

Unfortunately, family and friends can sometimes disappoint when it comes to helping with your child. There is only so much they can do to “replace” your partner and some may not be as willing to help as much as you had hoped. Expanding your community whether or not you have family that is close or willing to help will be a priceless asset. Some of you may not yet have children and you have already built a system of support for yourself. If you are planning on a bundle of joy, your support should expand even further.

Sometimes, old friends can have a hard time with the transition of your motherhood, and can even be sometimes insensitive to your situation. The good thing about meeting new people is that everyone wants to be liked, and new friends tend to hold back judgments or opinions the way old friends do not. Now, this will take some courage and effort on your part, but I promise, great rewards will follow. Start by looking into your community for Mom groups, play date groups or organizations like La Leches League. I encourage you to start searching these groups out while  you are making your registry or decorating the nursery. Be open to posting for new friends on Craigslist. When I finally bit that bullet, I met one of the most awesome females in my life. She didn’t even have kids, but she could be more compassionate towards me than many of my child- bearing friends. Ask your partner if there are any co-workers who have families, or if anyone of their expansive network have spouses and families.

I have spent some good times with my husbands chef’s wife and son. It has been an enriching relationship, and a great support when I am feeling resentful of the lifestyle.

Make Yourself a Priority

I hear this advice given a lot, and I am guilty of not adhering to it at times. But I can tell you from experience that it is an essential, especially for the lifestyle of a restaurant workers spouse raising children. The better you feel, the more you will be able to handle the stress, the emotions and the frustrations of single married motherhood. Being the partner of a food service worker takes parenting to whole new extremes, and caregivers  tend to put each other last on the list. I encourage you to put yourself first. Schedule a massage. Get a babysitter. Put them to bed early to curl up  with the book you want to read. Be gentle on yourself and reward yourself.

This may require that you follow Tip #1 of expanding your community.

If you are on a tight budget or have limited family to help watch your child consider the following:

  1. Offer to trade babysitting with other parents. Chances are, you also know someone on a tight budget who could use some free kid- free time.
  1. See if anyone would be up for bartering; say, you provide a meal for the family in trade for 3 hours of free sitting. If you don’t cook, think of some  other talent or hobby you have that would be useful to someone else. Can you sew? Are you able to make home repairs or clean house? I have had  a friend watch my child in exchange for picking up a few groceries just so she doesn’t have to go through the hassle of schlepping all three of her kids to the store!
  1. Consider working part-time, even if you don’t have to. The money considering daycare may even out, but the time of feeling like a grown-up, is priceless.

Forget the “Shoulds”’

This may be the most important tip of all, and the one that is a bit more conceptual. Early on, I found myself ruminating on all of the “Should’s”; He “should” be home helping me with bath time, he “should” have better hours, this “should” be more fair, he “should” have holidays off….I “should” be able to handle this better.

In life, there are many more “should’s” than guarantees. It is easy to think that this loneliness is an injustice that we must suffer through. But, it can be something to be celebrated. So, I want you to consider embracing this lifestyle as a lifeline. Consider the couples who are so annoyed and bored with each other after spending every evening together, wrangling the kids, talking about the budget, putting dinner on the table, only to fall  into bed exhausted and longing for intimacy, spontaneity, excitement. I, for one, am banking on not being nearly as bored with my husband as my other married friends, simply because he has less time to annoy me, and I have less time to nag him. Getting to see him lends more excitement to the relationship. During the week, I don’t have to worry that I look like an unsexy slob; he’s not there to see it! I anticipate the time we get to be together, and find myself taking pleasure and having the energy to look good especially for him.

Cultivate an attitude of Acceptance and Appreciation

Yes, this is a hard lifestyle. And there will be times you want to curl up in a ball and say “ Whyyy Meee??” You’ll tell them to quit their job, find something, anything else to do. These are the times that you will hate hearing” Look on the bright side!” You’ll want to slap whoever tells you this.  seriously, take a moment to breathe and reflect on the good things in your life.

Think of how you know that he will be home tonight, where he will be tomorrow, rather than having to go to sleep wondering if he is being ambushed in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Think of those who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, and that you have a paycheck with your family name on it. Consider that you have met someone your want to share your life with and create a new human being with.

Consider that you will be teaching your children about hard work, commitment and what it is to sacrifice for love and family. Consider acceptance. If you believe in God, have faith that he has brought this to you for a purpose. If you believe in Karma, know that a big measure of love will come your way. If you don’t believe in anything, believe in yourself. There is always hope. There will be bad days, but there will be good days.

And even if your partner were home every evening, it is no guarantee that you would be happier, or that life would be easier.

Sometimes, having a chef as a husband is like adding another kid to the mix.

Teach Your Children Well

One of the things I fear the most is my son asking why Daddy can’t come to his game. Or school recital. There have been days I try to distract myself from the reality of him is not being here to join us on “family” outings. But I have realized that this is not a culture I want to create for my child; “coping” with my partners absence. I am not cold-hearted, but firmly establish that Daddy has to work. It is how we afford the house we live  in and the clothes we buy. It is a fact of life, and even though some kids have both parents on the weekend, many families are of different shapes, sizes and situations. I help him to create friendships, because, really, Mom and Dad are only so much fun.

On Christmas Eve, we have a private party of wrapping Daddy’s presents, talking about the surprises in store for him. I encourage you to get creative. Have an Un-Christmas if your partner has to work the holiday. Create new traditions, and find new meaning in what matters most to you and your partner. Even if it is  something as simple as having cereal for dinner the night before family day, a tradition is a tradition. Security and a sense of belonging is what matters most to your child. Do not conjure feelings of missing out. We are incredibly lucky to live in this nation, in this lifetime, with the riches we have. Teach them to be grateful and lead by example.

Sara Bloomer is a Chef, Mother, Chef’s Wife and Foodie. She is passionate about sustainable food practices, having spent time working on Sallie’s Organic Farm, participating in her neighborhood CSA, and touring local food “hot spots”. While she misses her days working in restaurants, her focus of mothering her son, Basel, has been a welcome reprieve from the stressful life of a line cook. Sara enjoys getting crafty, meeting other mammas, and sitting in breast-feeding circles in the garden. Nature, travel, adventure, and discovery are major themes in her life and she hopes to one day leave it all behind for a year, traveling the country in a food truck with her husband and son.

If you want to read our other takes on what it’s like… read our other lovely ladies words of wisdom

***If you are interested in sharing your take on what it’s like… you know…. email me at info@marriedtoachef.com

 

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