So this is what they mean by chef’s widow

This weekend Nate landed his first real, paid, entry-level, guy wearing a chef’s hat job, pitting avocados and frying up gourmet arepas for the downtown foodie crowd.

($8/hour gravy train, here we come baby!)

I am so so very proud of him for being the guy who, in his early thirties, realizes that he has to change courses, overhaul his life and follow his bliss despite a grueling, thankless path to success that could kill a lesser man. And that lesser man’s lesser inlaws.

And, maybe, me.

Because with Nate still in school until January plus the unforgiving new work schedule, I am officially now a chef’s widow seven nights a week.

As in, all of them.

On one hand, it’s kind of nice to be home alone at nights. Once the kids are asleep–provided they actually are asleep and not in my bed either–I have a couple hours to myself with the TV, the ‘puter, and the Gavi. It’s kind of like being single, only with Play-Doh ground into the floor and no chance of sex.

But it’s just starting to set in that for the next five months, it’s not going to be a four or five or six-times a week thing. It’s going to be all of them.

No date nights. No weekends away as a family. No Can you walk the dog for me tonight? I’m tired and don’t feel like getting both kids dressed and out the door with me. No dinner parties with couple-y friends which, really, isn’t that the whole reason that most women don’t want to be single in the first place? The imagined dinner parties with the couple-y friends?

I’m having flashbacks to the college boyfriend, the drummer, who was away so many nights at gigs and band practice, that once when I was third-wheeling with Betsy and her boyfriend for the eightieth time, she blurted out, “If only you had a boyfriend too! It would be so fun if…um…” before she profusely apologized and went back to her White Russian.

(Do you remember that, Betsy?)

Of course I’m so incredibly fortunate that we have committed local grandparents and a flexible sitter (who now earns twice what Nate does) to step up and help out so I can actually have some semblance of an offline social life once in a while. But for the most part, dinner for me is going to equal scarfing the kid’s leftover fun shape ravioli at the living room coffee table across from a giant Don Draper and girls’ night out will probably have a twitter hashtag in it. That level of sacrifice is new for me.

I can’t help but think about what my friends the military wives and pilot’s wives and other mothers with traveling menfolk have learned to endure with frequency. At least for me it’s temporary. And the greatest risk to life and limb that I have to fear, provided Nate stays away from the meat grinder, are the midnight subway rides home.

Plus this all certainly it beats where we were as a couple three years ago when Nate was home full time, all the time, every day, and as miserable a piece of humanity as you can imagine.

I know that if we survive this, he will be happier. We will be happier. But oy. Seven nights a week.


36 thoughts on “So this is what they mean by chef’s widow”

  1. Congrats to Nate and hang in there! My husband travels a ton for and it is a nice break (we both work from home… the same home… and yes there is such a thing as too much togetherness), but I always know he'll be home in 2 or 3 or 4 days. At least there's an end date for you, so maybe that'll make it a little easier!

  2. “It's kind of like being single, only with Play-Doh ground into the floor and no chance of sex.”

    LMAO! Start a countdown til school is over and celebrate hard on those rare holidays he has off.

  3. Congrats to you and your husband for doing what you love in spite of tough circumstances. Building a life together – that's what we call it here at home. We're going through similar sacrifice-y transition here to move into the life that we really want. Careers are like that, but I can thankfully say that we no longer dread Monday Morning! There's progress! So, cheers to that,and to play dough in the carpet, and to sex after the kids are tucked in during normal couple-y hours.


    PS – May I steal your '-y'?

  4. That has got to be hard on both of you. But, I am glad that Nate has a change to do what he wants to do with his career. I remember when I traveled a lot and was not home most nights. It really was an eye opener for me as well as an incredible drain.

  5. Um, the White Russian, yes…the horrible gaff, no. What's the statute of limitations on abject mortification? And why wasn't my boyfriend with yours at practice?

  6. $8 an hour?! I don't even think that is minimum wage in California! Congrats to Nate for following his dream. I am sure you will look back at this and chuckle. Or at least not cry!

  7. That's my life. It's so much fun to be the ONLY!PARENT!HOME! all the time – until, you know, it isn't.

    We can hang out on Twitter together. And drink wine. And talk fondly of others boobs – so we can each say we've had at least a tiny semblance of action.

  8. My hubs is a cop, and after two years on the streets, he just applied for an got a special assignment: working in schools with kids. NORMAL SCHOOL HOURS! WEEKENDS AT HOME! A total breath of fresh air after two years of drudgery and psuedo-single-momity.

  9. It's hard when you go into parenting not expecting to have to do it alone. But does this at least mean he's around in the morning to do his share?

    I went to culinary school. I worked in a kitchen. So I know what it is – holidays, nights, the complete opposite of a normal schedule. Great for single folk. Sucks for married/family life.

    But there are two big pluses here (aside from getting quality alone time): 1) He'll be happily, hence the family will be happier, and 2) Free take out! (if he can swing it)

  10. Ugh, that just sucks. I mean, I see the big picture and it'll be great. You know, once it's over.

    My husband is building his business, so he works 12-14 hour days, about six nights a week. I feel your pain, I do. Now you see why I am such a Twitter addict, right?

  11. It will be over faster than you think it will. These sort of crappy things always are.

    I'd totally get a dog-walker. Or are they as expensive as babysitters in NYC?

  12. Well I am happy that Nate has found a job that he loves. My heart goes out to you about the seven nights a week though… I hope the time goes by well for you and that the journey isn't too hard…..

  13. That doesn't sound like much fun. Hopefully he's at least able to bring food home from time to time? A good dessert can go a long way to smoothing out the rough patches.

    I'm glad that Nate is able to follow his dreams. I think in the long run this will be a great thing for all of you. In the meantime, hang in there!

  14. Blargh. On the one hand, a heartfelt hooray for Nate following his bliss but on the other, holy crap for being on your own every night for the next 150 some odd days.

    Sh*t, sorry I did that math for you.

    Let me know when the next twitter hashtag party is… 🙂


  15. You have Twitter hashtag parties? Sounds like a lot more fun than my Saturday nights with whatever awfulness my significant other (Netflix) brings around 😀

  16. It's great that your hubbie is following his dreams! You're keeping a good perspective. As a new mom, I can't imagine my husband away 7 nights a week. He just returned from a 3 day trip, and I'm ecstatic!

  17. It's not easy, that's for sure…but you're right to keep the end in sight. And the fact that while this is so hard on your family (it's hard for the kids I'm sure too – and for Nate) that it's all leading to something really, really good. And probably pretty yummy.

    It doesn't make it easier for you, but I am on my own 24/7 and 365. I know you weren't comparing – but I can't help it sometimes.

  18. Seven nights is a tough one. During my husband's restaurant days it was often six nights. That had me pulling my hair out.

    At least there is an end in sight that you can remind yourself of on the tough nights. I'm sure you can get through it – and congrats to Nate for getting where he wanted to be!

  19. Military Wife here and all I can say is that it is amazing what we are willing to endure for the men we love!
    I am almost at the end of what will be a 5 month seperation. While I would love to give you great advice on how to get through I have none. I barely muddled through this thing and I will be so glad when it is over. Nothing makes you cranky like no sex for 5 months!

  20. best of luck to you and your husband in his new job! and let me say, as a mom who was left alone for 8 months (2 of them pregnant with two kids, 6 of them with THREE KIDS!!!) while my husband moved to another STATE for his job, you can do it. I had no grandparents/friends/babysitters to help me. Just me and three babies all day every day. And I can promise you, it's not so bad. You get used to having to get everyone dressed and into strollers/carseats/whatever to go everywhere. I was so surprised by how much closer I got with ym children during this experience, and I am so thankful for that. You will learn to love your evenings alone, I promise. And just remember, you make your husband promise that when all this 7 nights a week stuff is over you get a date or a trip to the spa alone, or whatver it is you need as a reward/decompression for the sacrifices you're making now. Don't even let him know it wasn't so bad! 🙂

  21. My hubby left his own marketing business which paid well but required him to travel constantly to buy a boat building business which he and I both work in. He works 12 to 14 hours a day and I can't say it's been easy but he is doing what he loves and he is home every night. Life is never perfect it's always in progress. But I wouldn't mind the odd night “home alone”

  22. Congrats to Nate and his bravery to make a change, and on yours, to support him. But, ooh, tough, I know. I've just been through a few years of entrepreneurship with my husband, and whew. A little friendly, unasked-for advice? Make sure, despite your both feeling tired and stressed (and, at times, a little resentful, it's unavoidable), to reconnect and be compassionate with each other. You're both facing such different challenges. It's easy for both of you to feel alone sometimes. Lots of extra TLC and grandparental help and support is in order!

    This will be worth it…no doubt!

  23. One day we look back and every sacrifice was worth it…right? But today we eat weird shaped ravioli and wonder, seriously? I must really love this man…I love one of those men (not chef) too.

  24. Been there! My hubby just finished 3 months of school where he had class every night. It was hard getting used to it, but I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary and things would be better in the long run. It's lonely, but in the grand scheme of things, it's a short time! Good luck!

  25. Grandparents and baby-sitter are nice, necessary, but it's not the same as nights out by yourself with the kids at home with their dad. The cost (to you) and the inconvenience (to them) weigh on you all night. My husband got a big increase in workload right after baby #2 was born … tough.

    I'm sorry. January you say? Count the days.

  26. advice from a 4 day and night a week widow- Attack the alone time with frenzy and get a bunch of crap you need/ have always wanted to do, get done. Even if only one thing gets done in those 5 months. If you've been putting it off for 5 years you will feel amazingly accomplished.

    Now that said I had a 5 month old and was following this plan and the boy comes home THREE nights in THREE months and I had ONE weak moment and BAMM! as Emeril would say, #2 showed up 9 mos later.

    And then the bastard left again for 3 months straight while I sat staring at a 1 mo old and 15 mo old. Well, not staring. More like fumbling along sleep deprived and spastic.

    At least it's the fall, when the weather will be great and you are gearing up for the holidays. Stay busy. But still ALWAYS miss him. If that stops you stop and go find him!

  27. chefs are sexy and, usually, the first one's done. have you read “service included?”

  28. When I was married to Tim and he was a sous chef, one of the other things I hated about his job besides the ridiculous hours (say goodbye to holidays together as well) was the fact that he came home stinking of the ENTIRE MENU. If he arrived home smelling like osso bucco or chicken Sorrentino or any one of the delightful dished that he had prepared that evening, it would have been tolerable, but all of them? Bleah.

  29. Being a chef's widow is the best. You do get lots of alone time 🙂 Congrats to him for pursuing his dreams and to you for allowing him to do it.

  30. Welcome to the club girl! Membership requirements:
    kitchen husband

    Good for him for following his own path and changing direction. It is a difficult journey for both of you but the passion of following one's dream pays off big. Cheers to you both!

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