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Who is to blame? The man or the mission?

May 19, 2014 in Expectations, Life, Relationships

blame him for everything

image: Pinterest

Before you dive in, start here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m wondering…Is that REALLY the case?

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

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

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

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

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

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

In fact, you were turned on by it.

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

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

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

I mean…it’s not a library.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THAT’S WHY WE NEED EACH OTHER.

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

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

Uh, NO.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time – PART TWO.

February 7, 2013 in Coping, Expectations, Favorites, Fears, Life, Relationships

Before you dive in, read here.  And if you haven’t read PART ONE yet, DO HERE.

Feel BETTER?

I hope so. Hopefully you are really beginning to GRASP how NOT CRAZY you are.

It’s NOT EASY being connected to someone in the industry.

All the things you are feeling, the REASON why you’re not crazy is because MOST of us are right along with you!

I wanted you to fully soak in a whole post where you could go to when you needed a reminder.

You are NOT crazy, nor are you the only one feeling the way you do.

*Reminder – there are always exceptions to the rule.

THAT SAID.

We’re never going to move from the place of always feeling resentful (and crazy) if we are not willing to look at why it is.

WHY do we feel crazy when our other half seemingly behaves so unaware?

What’s BEHIND these feelings?

We can’t just go ahead and continually blame them for doing what they do, without understanding what’s going on within us to create such frustration/anger/sadness,etc…

WE are responsible for our own choices… our own actions (and inactions)

We are POWERFUL and STRONG.

NOT helpless.

WE decide what does and doesn’t work for us, right?

RIGHT?

I mean they are only ONE PART of the relationship, right? It takes TWO to meet in the middle, right?

It can’t be that it’s JUST their fault and that’s it.

So I ask myself, when inevitably some of the statements from PART ONE ring true for me…

WHY am I accepting this?

Why am I choosing to let this continue, without changing course or direction?

What is BEHIND why I’m continuing to experience frustration and not peace?

As uncomfortable as it is, how willing am I to really look at what’s causing ME to be frustrated, in order to release myself from it?

How willing are you?

As I was recently researching a hypothesis about WHY they do what they do, I’ve discovered The Peter Pan syndrome , a phrase coined by psychologist Dr. Dan Kiley about typically men who choose not to grow up, stating:

“The Peter Pan Syndrome (PPS) describes men, who are childlike in their relationships, their ability to handle responsibilities, and their pursuit of pleasure. “He’s a man because of his age; a child because of his acts. The man wants your love, the child your pity. The man yearns to be close, the child is afraid to be touched. If you look past his pride, you’ll see his vulnerability. If you defy his boldness, you’ll feel his fear”

The other side of the coin in that scenario is something I found quite eye opening and shocking to me. – The Wendy Dilemma.

“The Wendy Dilemma describes women who are very dependent upon their mates in a special way. They mother their mates, treating them like immature children. It is not uncommon in my practice for these women to state, “I feel like I have four children, instead of three, because I have to treat my husband just like one of the kids.”

Wow, right?

It’s SO EASY for us to see how our significant others might not want to grow up, but SO challenging to see why they feel it’s okay to do that.

I mean, we’re calling a Spade a Spade here, right?

When we understand what’s BEHIND the reason we get frustrated and angry, feel sad and alone, we have a much greater chance for liberating ourselves from it and creating a new way of being.

Why am I mentioning this?

I mention these two hypothesis’ to help us not feel so ALONE, when really what we want is to understand what is really going on.

Especially if this has been happening for years, right? Most likely in our frustration isn’t just about what they’re doing, it’s about not understanding WHY they’re doing it and WHY it affects us so.

For me, finding this information has been like turning on a light, for myself, my relationship and as the captain of this ship. As a coach, I’ve always understood that there is motive and reasoning behind everything we do, that it’s always about the cause and not the effect, but HERE… it’s explained so clearly that it can no longer go ignored or misunderstood.

  • You’re NOT crazy but you might be feeling like you are because you don’t understand.
  • You’re NOT crazy but until you really look at what’s BEHIND what’s causing you pain, the crazy will be all that you see and feel.
  • You might be feeling CRAZY cause you know that somethings going on here but can’t put your finger on it.

What do I do now?

Honestly, whatever you want. YOU have the choice. You can use this information to find some sort of peace within yourself, a confirmation that you’re NOT crazy; maybe you can continue to do your own research to help you understand the concepts behind these philosophies, or you can partner with a professional coach or therapist who can help you move forward to help liberate you from what holds you back from THRIVING in your restaurant relationship.

Or nothing at all.

Maybe these two possible explanations do not ring true for you at all, only you know.

Either way, I still maintain that you are not CRAZY for feeling the way you are, that there IS a reason behind why this is the way it is.

It’s totally up to YOU to discover what that is.

How do you feel? Care to share in the comments? Did this FREE you or frustrate you even more?

It’s time. – PART ONE

February 7, 2013 in Coping, Everybody Else, Expectations, Favorites, Fears, Life, Restaurant Industry

before you dive in, read here.

I’ve been trying to avoid this post, but it seems I can no longer ‘look away’. It has become GLARINGLY obvious that something needs to be said and any amount of trying to be positive isn’t going to make it better.

I want relief. I KNOW you want relief, so here we go. I’m going to attempt to make this short and sweet, so you can hopefully feel better, faster.

It’s time. We can not ignore this any longer.

YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.

  • You’re NOT crazy for thinking he or she is selfish sometimes.
  • You’re NOT crazy for thinking their priorities are out of whack.
  • You are NOT crazy for the moments you think that the restaurant is more important than you and your family.
  • You are NOT crazy for the moments you think they need to grow up.
  • You are NOT crazy when you feel sad and angry that you’re the only one who seems interested in what comes next in your lives.
  • You are NOT crazy in those moments when you are considering why you got yourself into this type of relationship in the first place.
  • You are NOT crazy when you are pissed off because it seems you are the only one concerned about your children.
  • You are NOT crazy when they leave the house a MESS, like they don’t even see it there, day after day.
  • You are NOT crazy to wonder if they think of anything but themselves.
  • You’re NOT crazy if you think the ONLY reason why they’re still with you is so you can take care of them.
  • You are NOT crazy when you have to remind them OVER AND OVER AGAIN to do one thing.
  • You’re NOT crazy if you think their friends might not be the best influences.
  • You are NOT crazy when you’re infuriated that they, YET AGAIN, didn’t tell you when they were getting off, and you wake up panicking about where they are in the middle of the night.  *and then come to find out that they just “had their phone off”.
  • You are NOT crazy when you feel crazy that you are the only one upset.
  • You are NOT crazy when you are attempting to save money for the future, and they think if they see it there, they can spend it.
  • You are NOT crazy that their family thinks their The Golden Child, which makes you feel even more crazy that you do experience what you do. Talk about second guessing yourself.
  • You are NOT crazy when all you want is a day alone, with your other half.
  • You are NOT crazy when you feel SO SAD that you are alone/ not with your other half on a holiday or your birthday. When you see your friends out celebrating with their love, and you’re not.
  • You are NOT crazy for thinking you are not sure you can deal with this the rest of your life.
  • You are NOT crazy for being uncomfortable with how often they go out for a drink after service.
  • You are NOT crazy when you have your weekly plans set, and because they haven’t told you when they’re working (open/mid/close), and are suddenly available, they want you to drop your plans to spend time with them.
  • You are NOT crazy when you think that their co-worker is strangely “too close for comfort” to your other half.
  • You are NOT crazy for getting frustrated when people tell you “How Cool” it is that you’re married to a chef. You want to yell at them and say “NO! It’s NOT what you think!”
  • You are NOT crazy for never quite knowing when you can plan your vacation but when THEY want to do something, they always make it happen.
  • You are NOT crazy that they do something SO nice one day that it makes you doubt your initial feeling crazy, and then, a few days later, it returns back to their regularly scheduled routine and you then doubt yourself that you doubted yourself initially.
  • You’re NOT crazy when your restaurant man/woman reads this and suggests you stop reading these posts.
  • (This one is for me) You’re NOT crazy that the industry does NOT want anyone on the outside to know just how hard it is to be married into the industry, that sharing that might somehow jeopardize the glamorous image that it’s worked SO hard to keep up. You’re NOT crazy for getting serious resistance from those who work night and day to keep the dream alive.

You hear me… YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.

Go ahead and give yourself PERMISSION to not feel crazy. You’re NOT.

Whenever you need a reminder, come to THIS post.

Really… let hearing that you are NOT crazy SINK into your bones.

Give yourself a BREAK today. Okay?

And when you’re READY, REALLY ready…

READ PART TWO.

TELL US IN THE COMMENTS – What else are you NOT CRAZY for/about?

 

 

 

 

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

 

Connecting…

June 9, 2011 in Life, Relationships

intimacies

Intimacies by Cambiodefractal

 

Doesn’t this picture give you the warm and fuzzies? Doesn’t it make you daydream back to that time, perhaps when you just met or were first dating, when you and your then boyfriend or girlfriend, spent hours (or all day perhaps?) laughing and enjoying being in close proximity to each others physical bodies for a stretch of time? Maybe you were discussing your future, discussing what you want to name your first child, or their first restaurant perhaps. The endorphins, the feeling connected, the glow….

Most likely those moments occurred on a semi- regular basis… despite his long hours and cold pillow on the other side of the bed when you went to sleep at night. You found yourself craving these intimate moments as a part of your week, a way of not just physically and sexually checking in but to emotionally connect. Thus began your investigation into the growing feelings you had for your man (or woman), your future, and your decision that this person who you are now sharing not just your bed with, but your life with, is to be your partner, your mate.

There are, I bet’cha, at any given time, a handful of these moments burned into your mind. Let’s give them a moment of silence as we let them flood our minds…..

Very Nice.

So, It is no wonder that most of us have (I’d predict 90% of us), at one point or another deal with the separation anxiety (and frustration) that settling into a routine, that usually involves passing through the night (and weekend) typically brings. It’s these times when we aren’t connecting, whether it be physically (and by that I mean sexually) or emotionally, that can create great stress in a relationship. Days or weeks of  both literal and emotional “dry spells” when one day you realize that  besides not connecting sexually, you haven’t sat down to have a conversation with your restaurant man/woman (face to face), haven’t shared a meal or the time to share a long and lingering kiss that you might begin to question what the heck is going on.

If this is something you are going thru – I assure you, you are NOT the only one.

I have received quite a handful of messages from you that this is one constant source of tension and anxiety. It stirs our deepest, inner fears of being desired (wanted) and is always poking at our worthiness. It’s one topic that is in our undertone of most everything we watch, it’s the purpose of many media publications, and it’s the plot of so many movies.. it’s how we look at ourselves in the mirror when we’re buying clothes. With this constant invasion of our souls desire to feel free and untethered.. it’s a daily reminder when we find ourselves in the ‘day in and day out’ of passing through the night, just how much we might not be keeping up with the expectations put upon us from outside sources.

It’s challenging to say the least, when he or she gets home, you’re sleeping and when you wake up they are sleeping. This isn’t just an physical need.. (okay sometimes it is) but more than that..it’s a desire to connect. It’s the yearning to be seen, to be heard… a moment when your partner looks in your eyes and says, “you matter to me.” When we sense the distance that being in this type of relationship brings, it pulls on us and in the end, we take it as a lack on either ourselves or our partners parts. Usually “What’s wrong with me?  What’s wrong with him/her or.. What’s wrong with us?” are regular statements in our minds. It’s EASY to see how this quandry.. this stirring to know WHY we aren’t connecting will do a doosy on the foundation of any relationship.

Here’s the thing my lovelies… How can you expect to have the same sort of regular connection when the parameters of your loves work legitimately keep him or her away when most people are available. Part of the ‘Pain’ of being in the restaurant industry is what your experiencing. When they get off of work, they just gave their energy, their time and perhaps their body to their craft. I’m sure you can attest your other halfs passion to their job as almost mad scientist-esque. Working tirelessly to answer the questions that he or she have burning in their minds, only to stop when physical fatigue or what they’ve been working on has been solved.

I assure you it’s not that you’re not important.. that they don’t see you there, it’s the midnight oil burning in their heart that sometimes (okay most of the time) creates short sighted moments in your other half.

Here’s the thing… there is something YOU can do. Right here and right now.

For we, the tribe of the other halves, it STARTS with us. An awareness. And this time.. this awareness is about unlearning the ways in which we do not meet up to expectations compared to others that are not on this schedule and situation, it’s about learning about what Intimacy really is to you, what it feels like and when to recognize it as a way of feeding the need to connect.

So I ask, What is intimacy to you?

I can only say for me, that it’s those moments when I do see and spend time with my husband.. Intimacy is when we smile and joke around with each other, our inside jokes and pranks that most who hear or see them, have no idea what we’re up to. It’s putting a cup of coffee on his nightstand as I leave for work, only to cool down enough by the time he wakes (usually) … it’s the messages he sends me on my blackberry messenger mid-day, that he’s thinking of me and he loves me (we communicate during the day via messenger because he’s not able to get out of the kitchen (or off the line) long enough) It’s Sundays when he’s off, going to Home Depot together and shopping for our new grill and outdoor furniture, laughing and bickering the whole way (we’re bickerers by nature). It’s the Monday nite dinner and a movie that we both look forward to, that have become sacred – sitting together on the couch with our bodies close, that I know I am loved.

When I find myself asking those same questions (and I do) “What’s wrong with me?” What’s wrong with us?”,  I attempt to remember all those really beautiful moments that I do consider intimate, those moments when my husband looks over at me from his truck, from wherever we’re going to, and I can tell by the way he’s looking over at me.. that he really loves me. In that moment I feel seen… I feel heard… I feel exposed and vulnerable and open to whatever is next on our journey. True, it’s not what everyone else has… regular nite romps in the hay, but in some ways.. what I have is more.

How can you find those intimate moments with your love, appreciate and remember them when you find yourself asking those questions.. “What’s wrong with us?”  I feel I would be of no help to offer some Sex Tips (you can find enough of those in Cosmopolitan magazine) as I am still working out this topic as you are, but I can offer a reminder of what you DO have…

You DO have the freedom to pursue your own dreams, without the guilt of always needing to be available when most 9-5’rs are, you DO have the first row seat to watching someone fully present in their passion, you DO have back stage access to that world that most people have NO idea about. You DO have an occasional VIP pass when you step out to a new restaurant or gastropub.. You hopefully DO know the value that you bring to their life, if no other way than how you bring balance and grounding to them, the one who keeps them tethered to the ground. Yes, you have a handful of things that might be considered the ‘PAIN’ of your relationship.. and one of them involves some creative scheduling (wink wink)… but the feeling and the emotion BEHIND that sort of connecting… you receive in SO many other ways…

What are some of yours?