How my husband became a short order cook {In his words}

With Father’s Day approaching, I was brainstorming ways that I could incorporate my husband into this blog. I already talk about him, so I asked him if he’d have any interest in contributing his thoughts on my blog. He agreed.

I thought he may write about what it’s like to be married to a working mom, but what he came up with is so much better. It shows the love he has for his children, and the selfless spirit with which he entered our marriage and still shows me today {almost 8 years later}. I rely heavily on him to help with the kids and the house so that I have the time to pursue my own career, too. We are a team and I literally could not do it without him. I loved seeing what “help” looks like through his eyes, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there!

In relationships we’ve all had moments where we admit we need help. As a husband, sometimes getting off the couch for a beer during a football game seems insurmountable. Going hungry seems justified considering the effort it would take to rise, hunt, and capture the appropriate snack, if it even exists. I thank my wife for her vigilance during these times.

It’s ok to ask for help, we all need it. Sometimes the help is for big things, and sometimes it’s for small things (football snacks may fall under the latter). Relationships, especially marriage, rely on honesty and admitting when you need something.

It wasn’t until we bought our first house that Lauren and I really took notice of each other’s habits and rituals. (Enter cliche remark about my toilet water magically turning blue here.) Early in our careers, no time was more stressful than the morning routine: hitting snooze on the alarm, showering, grooming, coffee, news, and breakfast all while trying to get out of the door on time. So when my wife asked for help in the morning, after pointing out she took more time to get ready for work than I did, I decided to tackle breakfast. What started as a bowl of cereal here, a fried egg and toast there, became something much bigger.

After eight years, three houses, three cities, three kids, two cats and many burnt waffles later, I’ve become known around the house as “Chef”. It’s a title I’ve earned, and I hope it sticks around for a long, long time.

Making my family breakfast has become one of the greatest experiences I’ve had as a father. (And it all started with my wife asking for help!) What’s especially great is that I get to recreate  the experience every morning. It’s starting the day with one small accomplishment before I set out for the rest of a hectic day full of unknowns. Plus, there’s something selfishly satisfying about curing hunger in the morning.

I love making biscuits and gravy from scratch, with scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes. The entire house fills with smells of breakfast and the family gathers around our kitchen island to share a meal, be silly and discuss our day. It’s thirty minutes of family time.

The Chef doesn’t always get to cook what he wants. (I’d pick grits and corn beef hash, a true Okie at heart. I just can’t help myself!) Lately pancakes have been at the top of the menu and I’m happy to oblige. Henry and Daphne love fried cinnamon apples on top, something my Mom used to make for me growing up. Lauren may want protein instead of carbs, so I’ll scramble some eggs. On a busy morning the kids may want cereal when I have oatmeal out. Hard boiled eggs go over better than fried, and omelets get me extra brownie points from the wife.

It’s the first meal of the day, why not let them have a say!

A simple rule in our kitchen: if you have the freedom of choice, it starts with a healthy one. Our kids have grown to love bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, apples, grapes and oranges. There’s always an exception to the rule, and ours sits adjacent to the coffee pot (a container holding mint chocolate chip cookies and, as of this writing, notably low. Something the family tends to be on edge about.)

Despite countless authors and celebrities advising parents not be short order cooks – I say do it. At least for breakfast.

With all the routines kids have these days offering them a little freedom in the morning can be refreshing. Eating habits shouldn’t be controlled, they should be influenced. I have a short menu of breakfast meals my wife and kids know they can order from. When they come into the kitchen for breakfast I’m not just a cook, I become a teacher, a counselor, a friend, and a father. (Life’s not perfect, sometimes I go full dictator. Like if yogurt starts flying like shrapnel in a Michael Bay film.)

There’s so much focus on family time at dinner, which is enjoyed in my home, as well. But there’s something special about breakfast. A new day, a fresh meal, and a time for me to connect with my family. My wife asked me for help, but she ended up giving me the best job I’ve ever had. Put that on your toast and eat it.

The best job I’ve ever had

Earlier this week my husband and I hit a big milestone in our marriage – our 7 year wedding anniversary. We celebrated by going out to lunch while the kids were at school, because we haven’t quite scoped out the babysitter scene since moving to Texas.

It was nice to spend some alone time together, something that with a two and four-year-old at home happens much less often than either of us would like to admit.

We talked about the dreaded 7 year itch in a marriage.

I don’t know if this is actually a thing. We agreed that this last year probably held our fair share of marital hardships between me leaving my job, the miscarriage, and the move, and decided to move on.

What surprised me most about our kids-free conversation was how often reflecting on our life together turned into work talk. And how, for us, the two topics seem to be so intertwined.

Yes, sometimes our marriage feels like work. But I mean work-work.

Being married in our early 20s meant going through a lot of job experimentation and self exploration while fulfilling the roles of husband and wife.

If you would have told me 7 years ago that today we’d be business owners living in Texas waiting on baby number 3, I would have rolled my eyes. And yet today, it seems somewhat obvious that we’ve been heading in this direction all along.

Let me take you back to 2009.

While many of our friends were still finishing up graduate school or searching for jobs following the economic crash the year prior, we were handing in our 2 weeks notice and preparing to move across the country to get married. We arrived back in my hometown of Kansas City just a month before our August nuptials completely jobless.

Over lunch we talked about what a turning point that was for us, as professionals {if either of us could have been labeled that fresh out of college} and as a couple {it was good practice for the 3 moves that would follow}.

Our families warned us not to do it. They said the move was irresponsible. They encouraged us to be appreciative of the jobs we had given the economy. Looking back we can appreciate where they were coming from.

But I think we’d make the same choice if we had to do it all over again.

That itch to walk away from stability to pursue what we wanted would become a habit for us in the seven years that followed.

During that time, my husband would be laid off, start his own business, return to a career in finance, leave once again to run Pit Stop Auto Detailing full-time, and most recently accept a corporate job where he can continue to pursue something he loves while still operating his own business from afar.

While my own business path may have fewer curves, it’s also had a lot less direction than my car-loving husband’s. Unlike him, I wouldn’t discover something I really cared about until my daughter was born.

Not only did I immediately become crazy about being a mom {something I always knew I wanted to be}, but I unearthed an unknown desire to be a working mom {something I’d never even considered for myself}.

Yet, it wasn’t until after the birth of my son two years later that I got my own itch to pursue a business of my own.

With all of the changes in our careers, one thing has kept us both {me} from totally losing our {my} minds.

We’ve always taken turns satisfying our itch.

There’s no way my husband could have started his own business in 2010 without my reliable paycheck {however measly} and health insurance.

There is no way I would have pursued going out on my own without the stability and success of his business.

Over the last seven years I think we can both agree we’ve gotten what we wanted out of our professional lives, just not all at the same time.

Just like the jobs we’ve held, our marriage is hardly perfect.

We don’t always see eye to eye on who should change our son’s diaper or pick up the cat puke on the floor {true story}. There is more yelling in our house than either of us are proud of, and with the busyness of kids and careers someone’s needs are often unmet.

But one thing we’ve consistently done throughout our marriage is support one other whenever we get a professional itch. We take on each other’s goals, even if it means taking turns.

And we’ve never gotten that marriage itch, which makes being his wife the best job I’ve ever had.