On being Married to a Chef with children

January 15, 2012 in Family, Life

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

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

My Truth

by Hilary Battes of Desperate Chefs’ Wives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s my truth.

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