"Why can't Daddy have a normal job?"
How do I answer that?
What is a "normal job?"
To a 9-year-old, a normal job would be one where Daddy was off on Saturday and Sunday, the days she is off of school.
A "normal job" would be one where he is home this afternoon so she could stay at home with him, instead of having to go to a baby shower with me (knowing her friends will not be there, but will be home with their dads).
I guess a "normal job" would be what we consider a 9-5 job, although I know very few people who actually work a job like that.
It would not be the job of chef.
So this morning, in tears, she says to me, "Why can't Daddy just have a normal job?" She was crying and angry (not angry at him, but angry he can't be home more).
There is really nothing "normal" about the job of a chef. And trying to combine it with a family is pretty tough. Not impossible, just tough. My husband and I have a hard enough time with the crazy hours and ever-changing schedule of a chef, but apparently now we have to figure out how to explain them to our oldest, who sees him the least of all of us.
I am not sure why it hit her so hard this morning, but it did, and I got this question, in tears, for the first time. While there are many things she loves about being the daughter of a chef, this is not one of them.
I really have no idea how to answer it, either.
She is in school or on the bus for about seven hours a day during the week. The other girls are home at least part of the day when he's off, so it's not as big of a deal. So when Daddy/Chef is off only during the week, she only sees him for a couple hours, some of which have to be spent doing homework, eating, taking a shower, etc. -- normal things that just have to be done.
We can plan date nights for just the two of them. We can plan ahead as much as possible to make as much free time on his days off for her, but it still stinks. We all know it does.
How can I help her cope with this reality that will be probably always be part of her life?
How about crying?
Yep, that's what I did. I sat on the couch, held her in my arms and we cried together. It's so hard! I know it's hard! I miss him too! Less than an hour earlier I had just told my chef/husband over the phone that I missed him so much (and I was home on his day off two days ago).
So after a little sobbing, we talked. I reminded her about how much we both loved her and how grateful Daddy and I are that his job allows me to stay home and take care of our family.
We talked about the gifts and talents that God has given my husband in the area of cooking and how he uses those every day to provide for us.
We even talked about his brief attempt to get out of the kitchen to try and have a "normal" life. It didn't work. God had other plans. He went back in the kitchen and kept getting promoted. How can you argue with that? It's clearly the profession God has for him. (This probably went over her head, but it sure helps me when I'm discouraged.)
We talked about what to do when we get angry. We talked about praying and asking God to help us not be angry, to help us calm down and to not be upset.
And we cried some more.
The day went on. We both recovered and are fine. But it's tough. And this is only the first of our three children to ask that question. We have two more who will be in school full time soon too.
So as the days go on, school and work will continue. I guess I'll be adding this to my list of things I pray for her each morning. Missing Daddy is no fun and the long hours of his job as a chef are not likely to change.
Before I conclude, I should probably say that I do not write this post to make my chef/husband feel bad or guilty in any way. While we miss him very much, it's just as hard for him to be away from us at work for so many hours.
I almost didn't write it because of that.
But this is our reality. This is what we go through at home. This is the whole reason why I blog... to share what our ups and downs are as a family trying to combine restaurant and family life.
While I feel like I'm alone in this part of parenting, I really don't think I am. There are thousands of restaurants in the U.S. alone! Where are all the other chef wives and moms having this same conversation with their kids? If you are out there, please speak up!
Wow, that sounds like a desperate cry for help. But seriously, I would love to hear from other spouses or significant others of a chef. (Husbands of a chef, that's you too. I know there are a lot of female chefs out there as well. I'm not ignoring you!) Please leave a comment. Hunt me down on EmulsifiedFamily.com, Facebook or Twitter. Let's talk!
This post is also published on EmulsifiedFamily.com.