Chef Wives, You Are Not a Single Parent

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I wrote the post below back in July, but never published it. Tonight I’m sitting on the bed, wishing my husband was home with us. It’s Cinco de Mayo – the busiest night of the year for his restaurants. We haven’t seen him all week and we miss him. I’m tired. The kids have been arguing while making Mother’s Day cards. (Really?????? I don’t want have to discipline for that!! Ugh!! I really wish he were here to deal with the Mother’s Day card arguing…)

Have you ever referred to yourself as a single parent because of your husband’s career as a chef?

They work a ton of hours.  They are gone the majority if not all of the hours the kids are awake. Because of this, the parenting on the days they work (and sometimes even on their days off) falls on us.

It’s hard.

I get it.

I’m living it.

There are many days our girls do not see my husband because he leaves before or just as they are getting up and gets home just after they are in bed. Having a 1 hour + commute on top of the long hours of a chef is tough. My husband would have to leave work at 5 pm (and then sit in the car for 2 hours because of traffic) to be home to see them for an hour before they go to bed (which is not their best time of day). The mornings, it’s the same. If he doesn’t leave before 6 am, the commute can be almost 2 hours long. There’s really no option for a change of hours, so we find way to work with the schedule the best we can.

But with these long hours, does it really make me a single parent?

chef wives you are not a single parent

I will admit, I have said I felt like a single parent a few times early on in his career as a chef.

However, I am not.

And by saying that I am, or even saying that I feel like I am, is really disrespectful to my chef/husband.

Wait . . . Don’t stop reading!!

Hear me out.

Let me tell you why I think that.

Here’s a brief description of my chef/husband’s life.

He gets up each morning, usually exhausted, heads off to work to provide for us, and works like crazy the entire day, just to come home and sleep and do the same thing the next day. That’s what he does day after day. His job as the head of our home is to provide for us.

When he’s home, yes he’s tired, but he doesn’t complain. He apologizes for being tired. He’ll go out and do things with us no matter how tired he is or what part of his body he feels is going to fall off at the moment. He does not do any housework or take care of anything around the house. (I stay at home full time so that is my “job”.) He helps with the kids and helps cook when he is home (thank goodness).

If he’s not at work, he’s home with us. Occasionally he will go out with the CEO or regional chefs/managers, but that is very rare. He chooses to be with us when he is off.

So let me put myself in my husband’s shoes for a minute. (Not his actual stinky chef shoes but just in his place. You know what I mean.)

How would I feel if my spouse said they felt like a single parent because they do the majority of the parenting because I’m at work, working my butt off day after day so that we can pay our bills? I would fee l horrible, furious, angry, etc.

So by calling myself a single parent or saying I feel like one, is really taking away all my husband’s worth as a father and husband. It makes it sound like he is a slacker and doesn’t do anything.

For 99.9% of us, working is not a choice, it is a necessity. No matter what you do, those silly bills keep coming each month.  If he doesn’t work, we can’t pay our bills.

Marriage and parenting are not 50/50.

They are 100/100.

The responsibilities are not the same.

You are both in it 100% every day for the rest of your life.

This means that both of you are doing 100% of what you need to for your family.

Your days will look different. They just will. And that’s OK.

Now I know what many of you are thinking. . . I work full time too and I’m tired after work as well. I bet!! However, if that is the case, I’m guessing the hours are still less than those of your chef. I know that your situation is different than mine and that your home and routine will be different. I get that. But I would still wonder how your chef would feel if he knew you felt like a single parent and that you said that to others. What would his response be?  (Or her response . . . of course I’m not leaving out female chefs . . .it’s just awkward to always say he/she his/her etc.)

If each of us are doing the right thing for our family, whether it’s working at 5 pm or feeding the kids at home at 5 pm, we are both being parents . . . one of us just happens to be doing their part away from the house.

I know that at times we might feel that our family comes second to their career. (And in some cases it might.) But is that feeling true, or just our frustration about their hours?  In my case, it’s always been my frustration about the hours.

Let’s say you and the kids were in a car accident and one or more of you were rushed to the local ER. Do you really think your chef would say they were to busy to come? I don’t care if the President of the United States was dining at the restaurant, my husband would leave and would be calling his crew on his phone as he was running out the door. The majority of managers, kitchen crews and owners would be supportive of that. If not, then get out of that restaurant!! Our family will always come first.

The reason he works hard at his job is BECAUSE of our family. It’s not for himself. He does so to provide for us and take care of us.

So the next time you are frustrated with the kids, wishing your chef/husband was around more to help, put yourself in their shoes for a minute and think about what they are doing for your family. Are you really a single parent? (Now if they are out with friends every night after work or every day off, maybe it’s time to talk. But if they are working, just think about it.)

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below.

From one chef’s wife to another,

Jennifer

14 Comments

  1. Emma

    This is exactly how I feel. I occasionally feel disappointed when he has to stay 6 hours later, but he is working, and he is doing it for me. I left cooking professionally to stay home as we are (still) trying to get pregnant. I don’t understand when people get mad at their spouse for working to provide for them. That is how good men were raised, you work as hard as you can to give your family the best life you can. He is almost never home to enjoy the fruits of his labor, but I don’t let him do any housework or cook. Aside from occasionally doing the dishes once or twice a month, or taking the trash out if I ask him to, I do all of that for him. I lay his clothes out for him at night. He already works 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week. The last thing I want to do is cry or make him feel guilty. Even when I am sad and I do miss him, if he texts me I try to be very positive and always make sure to tell him I’m having a good day. He tells me that makes it all worth it. I try to remember to give him a heartfelt thank you everyday for working so hard so that I don’t have to. I’ve been in the kitchen. I know how hard and exhausting that is, physically and mentally. We don’t have a baby yet, but he is already making big sacrifices to try to make sure when it happens that his children will have a warm home and have their mom home all the time. What a great guy these chef husbands are!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      What a great perspective you both have!! It’s hard to stay positive sometimes, but is so much better for our marriages!!

      Reply
  2. Mandie

    I started crying the other day imagining how we could navigate adding a baby to our opposite schedules. We are just practicing right now, and I get excited at the idea. I’ve always enjoyed teaching and can’t imagine getting to have a child of our own. The idea is enough to get me high, but I was low and missing him. And then I wondered, if we’re finding ways to make this schedule work for us now (coming up on our second anniversary)– how long would it take to navigate having a baby? Isn’t that just asking for a heart-ache? I’m 30 and I know we have some more time to navigate through these questions, but does anyone have advice? I can’t do it all on my own- I know that.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I remember being so overwhelmed at the thought of it as well. But you adjust and figure it out as you get used to being a family of 3 instead of 2! I just approved your request to join our closed FB group. Let me know if you didn’t get the email. Looking forward to getting to know you!

      Reply
  3. Eimear O'Connor

    Hi, I felt i wanted to comment on my experience as not a chef wife but a Chef Exgirlfriend 🙁
    I had a crazy long distance relationship with my chef ex and boy did I not realise what I had got myself in for when I moved in with him. For some stupid reason (i think they call it blind love 😛 ) I didnt think about the long hours days and weeks i would be alone in the apartment waiting for him to come home. I spent so much time with a friend I made in the city, Toronto, i moved to be with him in I called her my girlfriend! I was thinking/worrying about the future, and googled chef wife or something like that and came upon this blog and it made me realise the serious of the future i could potentially be in for. It got harder and harder and I started to resent his job so much that it created a rift between us that just didnt heal. The fact that i couldnt make toast without burning it and was in an office 9-5 job made us feel like chalk and cheese to me. And also the fact that as a passionate chef he wanted to excel and do as many hours as possible and have someone support that. I also remember always feeling we were at different levels of mood, he would be buzzing at 12 oclock at nite up for a drink, and I would be about to head to bed feeling tired after waiting up all eve alone. So it came to a head and I left, moved back to Ireland. It was the most horrible hard decision I ever made, and nearly a year on it is still hard, because I didnt fall out of love per say I just could see us breaking down in only a year that we had lived together that i knew ‘forever’ wasnt going to work. Reading this blog woke me up to the reality of the situation and I couldnt take it. I hope I will find love again and that he will find someone to support that difficult career of his. I will always feel something for him but i guess it wasnt meant to be.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Thanks for sharing your story Eimear. I know that many can relate and wish things would have turned out differently or that the job could have changed in some way to make it possible to work out. Best of luck to you. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Natalia P.

    Hi Jennifer,

    First of all, I would like to thank you for sharing all of these deep feelings. It is hard to deal with all when you date a chef.

    I really need to put my feeling out there. It has been almost a year since we’ve been dating. He is from Canada and I am from Brazil, but I live in Canada as well.

    The first challenge is that I’m already alone and without a family to guide me and support me. So basically I have no one besides a few friends. If only I could run to my mother’s house once in a while for company, but I can’t.

    He works as many hours as a chef can work of course and I stay home on the weekends wondering if I’m going to the right direction with my life.

    It’s a harsh world. I sometimes don’t understand his world, even if I try really hard and get to know all his friends and crew. I’m a fashion designer in an office MON-FRI job. So VERY opposite schedules.

    We are suppose to keep moving on with this relationship wich is great. He is a great man, but watching you cry and struggle makes me have second thoughts on if I want this life for me. I’m 28 years old and the doubt is killing me.

    I’m sorry to write this to you but I’m desperate for advice. Should I run now? Or is patience worth it?

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      While it’s hard at times, I don’t regret it in any way. My husband started working in the kitchen after we were married, so we had no choice but to figure it out. It takes a lot of work, but it can be done. 🙂

      Reply
  5. NG Chef Wife

    I’m laying in bed, a week from christmas, looking at all the fb posts of friends out on dates or celebrating the holidays with their husbands. I might see hubby on tues. And he will probably be on his phone half the day. We have 2 young boys and I’m a stay at home mom. I have lots of friends and family but I miss dating. I miss going out with my husband. I married him knowing he was an A type personality chef and I know he works hard. There are plenty of awesome chef husbands out there but I think my guy is the stereotype…sleeps til noon, has time to go out for beer with the guys but no time to take the garbage out. Doesn’t bother to celebrate holidays and spends his days off making orders and calls for the restaurant. I know he loves us. I just miss him. I came across this blog and I like this article. I know we aren’t single moms but its definitely not easy. My guy is larger than life, likes to go out after his shift and doesn’t plan a thing with us unless it involves visiting a farm to source new product. Any advice for the wives of chefs who are less than stellar in their home life?

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I know it’s hard! I just approved your request for our closed FB group…let’s talk more in there!

      Reply
  6. Sarah

    I was just sitting in bed (nursing my 2 mo daughter while my 2 year old was in his room fighting off sleep) feeling disappointed yet again that my husband is still at the restaurant even though he said he would be home 3 hours ago and I decided to Google ‘married to a chef’ and came across your blog. I’m so glad I did. Thank you for what you are sharing and for encouraging us significant others of chefs.

    My husband has just been made Sous Chef though he has been acting as such for almost 3 years. I spent our first year of marriage angry hurt and jealous because of his job and being pregnant with few friends and none of my family close by made it difficult. I often fantasized that the restaurant would burn down and he would have to be with me all the time. I can say it has taken a lot of prayer and communication to get me to where I am now. I still get sad and definitely lonely at times but I think seeing how great he is at what he does and how much he loves it and remembering that he really does want to spend more time with us helps. He is making an effort to make time for us which is great to know even if we don’t actually get the time.
    It was really great to find this. Thank you for putting in words and validating what I have been feeling. I’m glad I didn’t find this before I married him because even with the hours he is still a great husband and boy can he cook!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Thanks Sarah. Glad you found us!

      Reply
  7. Rachel

    I am a single mom, dating a chef. I was already holding down the home and parenting and work alone, so honestly the weird hours and lack of one on one time has worked quite well for us! I’m not used to having someone to rely on, so the time he sets aside and goes out of his way for us is amazing and so appreciated. We don’t go on dates, we eat 1am dinners together, and I love it. When he is able to make rehearsals and practices and other kid related events we know it wasn’t easy and means the world. I admit though it wouldn’t be as easy to accept and appreciate if I had not already had life under control fully as a single mom. This wonderful man in our lives only makes it better. And yes, he actually DOES cook for us ALL THE TIME and is happy to cook for people that appreciate it, not the entitled guests night after night you get as a chef in Aspen.
    I just found this page tonight, while I patiently wait for my midnight dinner, lol. Love it and thank you for creating a place for us ❤️

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Midnight dinner – I love it!! Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure others can relate!

      Reply

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