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February 25, 2015 in Expectations, Family, Relationships

say it before it's too late

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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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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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On being Married to a Chef with Children

January 20, 2012 in Family, Life

 

Ask and you shall receive, right? I don’t know about you but I feel SO much better after reading Hilarys take on what it’s like being Married to a Chef with Children. I knew it was going to be challenging, that I would inevitably be the primary caretaker, but it’s SO good to know that the answer is finding what works for each couple, when times get tough.  I LOVE what she said about:

” Being married to a chef is hard enough without children. Having children is hard enough without being married to a chef. Combine the two and you’ve got a recipe for a lot of work.”

SO insightful. It’s amazing to me to see how similar we other halves are… PURPOSEFUL, STRONG and RESILENT… almost like we could carry the world if we knew had to.

Well, you are in for a treat. We have another wife and mama’s take on what it’s like… well, you know. I am receiving so much guidance in her wise words. I have a feeling you’ll end up feeling as empowered as I did.

Married to a Chef … With Children

by Gretchen Alfonso of GastroMami

I met my husband Reny during my last year of college.  I was bartending my way through school & he had just arrived in Memphis to take the helm of a nationally acclaimed restaurant.  He was cute, talented, covered in tattoos, completely full of himself & I was smitten.  After dating my way through the classic “bad boys,” mostly musicians and bartenders, I had found my ultimate man:  a badass in the kitchen who worked hard, played hard & loved hard.   I went to school in the mornings while he slept, we both worked 5-6 nights a week followed by drinking, eating & dancing our way through every juke joint and blues club in town.  Life was grand.

Fast-forward to 2008 and I caught the “Yes We Can” bug, heading to Pennsylvania to work a congressional campaign.  You see, with a chef as my partner, my “wild & crazy” idea to move 800 miles away for 6 months in order to work 80 hours a week didn’t seem all that “wild & crazy.”  The thing about insane work hours & exhaustion, however, is that one can let some important stuff slide and ‘well hello there double blue lines!’  Our son Reinaldo came in May 2009 and to say that he rocked our world (in a good way) is an understatement!  About 22 months later Fiona arrived on the scene.

Our life with children isn’t all that different from our life before:  we are up at all hours of the night, someone is always hungry, work never seems to stop and occasionally we have an out of control ‘customer’ that needs to take a seat & have a glass of water or he will need to leave (or go in timeout as it were).  The main difference is that, instead of us both working & playing together I am home, alone, much of the time – and that has not been the easiest of transitions.

It is difficult for me to put into words what is so hard about this lifestyle, with kids.  Is it the long hours or the weekend events alone?  Is it the fact that even when he is home he is usually sleeping?  Do I regret that I often turn down playgroups because they are almost always at 10am and that is his time with the kids or that all his time at home is taken up by two children who love him but what about me, his wife?  Do I look at other dads on New Year’s Eve and mourn the fact that my husband isn’t there to watch his 8 month old daughter as she is mesmerized watching fireworks for the first time or regret that he isn’t there for our nightly “get the wiggles out,” post-bath, naked-babies dance party?

There is a lot that is hard, really super-duper hard, about having a chef as my parenting partner but there are also a lot of really great things:

  • We get to go to the zoo, to the aquarium & museums in the morning, during the week, when no one else is there!
  • My husband is able to enjoy our children at their best time of day – early in the morning!  Granted, he is usually half asleep but the joy & love they have between the hours of 7-9am is unbeatable!
  • Reny & Fiona’s father makes a mean breakfast!  They want challah French toast with slivered almonds & macerated berries on a Thursday?  No problem!
  • When our babies are little I can pump a bottle before bed and “Dada” willingly takes the 1am feeding (because he is just getting home), thus granting a very tired Mama 4 solid hours of much-needed sleep
  • Jars of baby food?  Ha! – not in this house!  My kids were eating curried lentils & roasted squash while their playground companions were stuck with nasty-smelly “chicken dinner” & “pureed peas”
  • My  son’s favorite food is “pulpo” (octopus) & my 8-month old daughter just chowed down on some duck & rabbit goulash … picky eaters?  I don’t think so!
  • When we do get a date night Reny & I dine like we are part of the 1% and pay like we are below the poverty line

There are a lot of really difficult moments of parenting with a chef & there are a lot of really good moments.  We have also made some huge changes in our relationship over the past 2 ½ years:

My husband wakes up with the kids at least 5 days a week. Ouch, right?  This schedule started when I used to wait up for my husband to come home from work, usually around 11pm (at his old job); the deal was that if I waited up to see him, he would wake up with Ren since it was usually at least 1am before we rolled to bed together.  Now he has a new restaurant that keeps him at work later but he still wakes up and does breakfast & gets the kids dressed while I spend some much-needed alone time in bed!

We moved closer to my family. My parents are still a 7 hour drive from Philadelphia but the fact is that I CAN drive it, ALONE, with 2 kids instead of (from Memphis) taking 2 flights ($$) alone, with kids.  This means I can travel home for weddings, long weekends, ski trips & holidays and my husband can still fly, drive, or Megabus it, to meet us for part of the trip, if his schedule allows.  We also have relatives in NYC, DC & Baltimore if I need a quick hand!

Family comes before the restaurant. This seems like a no-brainer but sometimes chefs get so wrapped up in the restaurant, their staff & the customers.  I understand that it is a huge stress to run a restaurant and know that your staff of 50+ depends on you for their, and their family’s, livelihood & that each and every customer can make, or break, the restaurant that your chef so loves.   It has taken years of communication but Reny understands that our family comes firstIf I absolutely, desperately need help – he comes home. Granted, Reny is Executive Chef so he can always leave knowing he has the most capable sous chefs, and believe me, I know I am lucky in that ability.  I suffered from horrible post-partum depression after the birth of Fiona & was grateful that his schedule was flexible enough to give me, and our family, the time & extra set of hands we so desperately needed.

I hire a sitter so I can have adult time. I don’t have a husband to stay home with the kids so I can go to dinner with friends or attend book club so I hire a sitter – without feeling guilty! We budget that extra expense every month so I don’t feel isolated or “stuck” at home.

I don’t work outside of the home. As both a woman that loves to be busy & a feminist this is very hard for me but not having a job outside of our home is what works best for us, for now.  Since I am home with the kids we can be available for my husband whenever he is free.  The schedule is different this week and he is off on Wednesday instead of Monday?  Fine.  He’s out picking meat up from the market and wants to meet us at the nearby coffee shop for hot chocolate?  We can be there.  He’s working a double?  We pack up a lunch and have a picnic in the bar lounge.  I know that this flexibility is not forever, especially once our kids are in school, so we enjoy the moments together now and I will re-enter the workforce in the future.  He is a chef, however, with a paycheck to match, so we sacrifice & save to make it work but it does work, for us, for now.

I am going to be honest that there are times when my heart aches and I miss my husband and our children’s father; there are times that I am so overwhelmed and resentful of his job that I simultaneously burst into tears and call him to bitch and complain and vent.  There are also times when I am so eternally grateful that the passionate, fun-loving, badass of a 26 year old has turned into the most passionate, fun-loving, badass of a father that any kids could wish for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gretchen Alfonso is a stay at home mom to Reny, 2 & Fiona, 9 months.  Her husband, Reny, is the Executive Chef at Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia, PA.  She spends her free time writing about her culinary & parenting adventures at GastroMami & volunteering as a “spokesmom” for The Clean Air Council and Sierra Club of Southeastern PA.  Gretchen loves exploring her new city, its museums & restaurants with her family.  An avid runner, eater & nature-lover, she and her husband work on instilling a healthy love & respect for food, and its origins, in their children.

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On being Married to a Chef with children

January 15, 2012 in Family, Life

Source: icanread.tumblr.com via Dorothy Marie on Pinterest

Since my chef husband and I do not {yet} have children, it’s a no brainer that I felt I could not accurately write from what that perspective was. Before we got married, I had a sense it was going to be the most challenging part of being married to someone in the restaurant industry and I knew I wanted it to be an important focus here on Married to a Chef. In our village, it’s become a subject of great focus, I reached out to other halves who are in this sweet (and also challenging) spot to share their experiences, and today I am honored (as her blog was the first place I found comfort years ago) to share with you one amazing significant others take on what it’s like.

My Truth

by Hilary Battes of Desperate Chefs’ Wives

Being married to a chef is hard enough without children. Having children is hard enough without being married to a chef. Combine the two and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a lot of work.

I could tell you about the lonely nights and the struggles of managing a job, a home and a son but I’d be wasting your time. You know all of that; you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. I want to share my specific struggles and how I cope with them. I’d like to be as honest and direct as possible, especially for those of you who are planning on having children.

I’ve been married for six years and my son is nearly two years old. Before I had my son I struggled with occupying my time when my husband wasn’t around. I cried my eyes out on New Year’s Eve several times and I sneered at other women enjoying meals with their spouses on Saturday nights. I surrounded myself with other women in the same situation. I blogged. I cried. I complained. A lot. None of those worked. Although they all played a part in my growth, I never gained the freedom I needed until I started communicating with my husband. I’ve been working really hard for the past four years or so to talk about anything and everything that bothers me. I worked on my voice tones. I had no idea how much I was conveying to my husband with the tone of my voice. The more I talked, the more he talked. We talked about what it’s like to be lonely. I stopped asking, “Why can’t you get off for Christmas?” and started saying, “I feel so let down when I can’t be with you Christmas Eve”. This created conversations between us instead of just arguments. I stopped whining. The whining was only pushing my husband away. Chefs have little to no power over their hours and days off so giving them grief about it only makes it worse. The communication started to make a big difference, but only after a while of working at it.

Before I had my son, I had a vision of motherhood that was a modern-day fairy tale. I imagined a tiny pink baby, warm against my breast, meeting for the first time in the hospital room moments after delivery. I hate the fact I never had that moment. After hemorrhaging a massive amount of blood and undergoing an emergency surgery, I survived delivery. But that picture perfect moment of mother and child after delivery that you see so often in the movies didn’t exist for me. That was the beginning of so many things that I expected motherhood to be like. The fairy tales are lies. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son, I adore him and although he can melt my heart like no one else, I don’t hide the fact that he’s a lot of work.

My biggest challenge was (and really still is) the feeling of resentment. Sometimes I just crumbled under the pressure of motherhood and I blamed my husband for it. Looking back now, I know none of the struggles were his fault, but I was so angry that I was doing so much more than he was. My body, my schedule, my life changed a hundred different ways since the day I got pregnant. And my husband? You guessed it, he has made minimal changes. Because of our lifestyle he didn’t necessarily have to. I couldn’t continue my life with the amount of work I was doing. Again, I changed the conversation. Instead of complaining I let my husband know what happened for me every time I had to take work off when our son was sick. I told him the jealously I experienced when he was able to meet up with his friends after work while I was at home giving our baby a bath. I asked for help. That was the hardest thing to do. It’s easy to complain. It’s easy to feel comfortable as the victim. The hard part is stepping out of the defenses that have kept us safe since our childhood.

Nearly two years after that traumatic day, my son, my husband and I are doing fantastic. We argue and get aggravated, but we also make room, lots of room, for communicating. We ask for help, we cry when things get rough, and we allow – no wait, encourage, each other to communicate.

I love my life and all the bumps that go with it.

That’s my truth.

About Hilary: A middle school teacher and administrator at a charter school in New Jersey. Her busy schedule allows for little downtime but when the rarity occurs, she enjoys reading, playing with her son, and dining out in New York City. She has been blogging for nearly five years on her site Desperate Chefs’ Wives and loves connecting with the women she meets through her blog.

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