Today, as we continue on in our series talking about how to have a successful career AND be married to a chef (oh, and don’t forget about kids), I’d like to introduce you to Amity Howard Reiss.
Amity is a wife of 10 years and has been together for 19 with a successful Executive Chef. Chef Joel Reiss has worked for some of the most well known establishments and Chefs in NYC. He is currently the Executive Chef for the S Prime Steakhouse in Long Island City, Queens. She is a full time school psychologist for a Nassau County school district and slowly starting a part time photography business. They have two amazing little boys, 4 and 5 years old, and reside in Oceanside, NY.
I’m so thankful for Amity’s willingness to share her thoughts on this important topic that many of you have expressed interest in.
A woman can do it all! That is how I truly feel. We can support our husbands in their career, honor our own path in our personal pursuits of interest and raise our children to be intelligent, compassionate and successful citizens. Now, how we manage to do this takes a strong path of conviction, not to mention a great amount of compromise and sacrifice at times.
How to have a successful career and be married to a chef? Let’s now add children to that equation? How to have a career, be married to a chef and raise a family…all successfully??
Let’s chuckle a little at that and be honest. It’s not an easy task and I would hardly admit that I am successful at any one area. Sometimes it feels like I am flying by the seat of my pants just near the precipice at all times.
It certainly would be easier with a few more variables in the equation, so if you have the options, I would take them. First, get any and all educational pursuits out of the way before kids. It is far easier (and I thank my husband for this decision) to complete higher education prior to raising your children. My husband was firm on this point and really encouraged these decisions. I was able to accomplish two masters degrees before starting my family at 34 years old. Given his schedule, I had plenty of free time to focus on my goals and immerse myself in college. Understandably, not everyone can accomplish this before having a family.
In that case, I think organization is the next variable. Be highly organized and focused in order to accomplish your responsibilities. I have checklists for everything and try to stay ahead in the game. I am also the one that is around to pay the bills, budget household finances, plan vacations, buy gifts for every event and finance all the kids extracurricular activities and various school donations. This is the part where I stand on the precipice! Serious weakness!
Another variable is a support network. I would have LOVED to have a strong support network of family over the years. Unfortunately, my family is in Maine and I live in New York so although they are very emotionally supportive, physical proximity has been a challenge and always yearned for. Friends have always been great and I am thankful for some wonderful people. However, you can be quickly forgotten when the husband works every weekend and friends get together as ‘families’ and forget to invite or assume you are not available. I spend big money on babysitters! To keep my sanity and identity, they are worth every cent. I am not even talking about going out once in awhile for dinner with a friend, but needing the availability to make my child’s PTA meeting one evening or a work obligation. My reality as every chef wife can attest to unless their husband is able to obtain the 9-5 corporate schedule, is that they are not around in the evenings, from 5-7 days a week at times. We do the juggle from the moment we wake to the moment we lay our head down at night.
Another last tidbit that I think is the crux of doing it all and hopefully doing it all “well”, is to pay attention to a few small details. whatever they may be. In my home, he likes a phone call daily. I admit I am not the best at this. He tends to call me more but he likes if I initiate the call. I think it makes him feel he is missed and thought about while we are going about the day. I do sometimes get hung up on or cut short, par the course, but he still wants them to happen.
I also stay up late A LOT! I stay up to have a relationship. It makes me tired and unhealthy (I blame it on why I am overweight), but I do it a few nights a week nonetheless. It’s a personal choice that doesn’t work for most people. I also keep him in the loop. I tell him about every activity the kids are doing, make fun plans on the Sunday he is off and leave the kids school papers out so he can see their activities and work.
I am fortunate. My husband is an excellent partner in the house…well…at least during the school year. I work a school calendar so it is a running joke (and very true) that all assistance comes to a halt once school is out. So I take what I can get. During the year he does laundry, washes dishes, organizes the house, picks up groceries from time to time, shovels snow, cooks dinner on occasion and drops the kids off at school most mornings (except when golfing). That is A LOT in my book. These guys are tired and work long hours. I appreciate any and all assistance and my snarky comments just keep me sane and amused!
I enjoy my work immensely and cherish my opportunities. I followed my husband around from place to place for years. We are more settled now and my career has provided stability to our family. In my work I find deep gratitude in helping families and children navigate the world of special education. It makes me a better mother at home. My career allows me access to the most recent research in child development and current curriculum issues in education.
However, I have found that keeping the pace over the years has created an increased level of anxiety and energy that tends to make it impossible for me to ‘slow down’ sometimes. Of late, I have revisited a more purposeful pursuit of creative interests in order to balance myself, such as painting and photography. I feel very strongly that we don’t just live to be a mother, a wife or even for our careers…we live for our sense of self, strength and identity that comes from our own interests and dreams. These are the unique parts of ourselves that our children and our husband love and value and what makes us very special!! Don’t forget to cultivate yourself!!
Cheers fellow Chef Wives…
If you are married to a chef, work full time and also have children, do you have any other tips you can share? If so, please comment below. 🙂
From one chef’s wife to another,