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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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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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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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