My Chef goes back to work tomorrow, back to 12 hour days, to numbers, budgets, staff, to guests who are happy and those who aren’t. He will return with energy that will quickly be eaten, like the rolls fresh out of the oven no guest can refuse. We get the left overs, packed up in the box with every intention of the next day’s enjoyment. Only our next day means he starts all over again. By the time he has a day off, exhaustion supersedes any projects planned. That time is needed to recharge for the upcoming days at work again. This is the life of a restauranteur. This is the life of family of one.
I don’t begrudge the restaurant. I used to see it as his mistress, taking him away from us, calls at all hours, never-ending needs. After 18 years, it is more of a family member, that parent with an inheritance who demands constant attention in exchange for payment for college, braces, a new car. Everything we have, we owe to this member of our family, every single thing. The balance of power is daunting. I don’t get to complain. Yet, after a week with my Chef home, all to myself, I so envy those with more normal schedules. What would it be like if he only worked 8 hours, what if he was home for dinner every night? What if weekends were Saturday and Sunday and not Tuesday and Thursday? I know my fantasy is just that, probably not many really only work so few hours anymore. I have friends whose husbands work out of town all week, whose husbands have more traditional jobs and still carry great stress and laptops full of work home. Maybe I am longing for a time far gone, a middle class that died, where family trumped work. Where 8 hours five days a week was enough to sustain a family and save a little too, dinner on the table at 6. Yards were mowed on Saturdays, couples met to play cards. Who can meet with us on a Tuesday night?
My Chef returns to work tomorrow. We didn’t go anywhere for his vacation and it was bliss. I enjoyed a full helping of his time and energy. I loved early morning coffee on the porch, slow conversations, walking around the house and finding him here. I will work hard as well to be grateful for all this needy family member provides, knowing others would change places with me in an instant. I will be grateful my Chef is willing, is able to work each day. I will remember we are blessed beyond measure. If I am totally honest, though, I will peek at the schedule to see when his next vacation is and begin my countdown. I love my Chef.