The Mama Bear carries over to the restaurant. One of your fellow chefs slipped and cut their finger? OMG LET ME KISS THAT BOOBOO AND MAKE IT ALL BETTER! You find yourself taking new cooks under your wing, listening to the boys and problems with their girlfriends, encouraging them to stand up for themselves, complimenting a beautiful dish they created, scolding them for mistakes, and sharing beers after work whilst bitching about the day. The boys become part of your family, and you will stay up late worrying about them, just as you do with your own children.
One day, John, our infamous dishwasher was learning how to do some simple prep work. Chopping onions, shredding cheese, making waffles - John was excited to learn. Peeling and chopping potatoes was assigned to him for this particular day. I had my back turned when I hear, "Son of a bitch!," from John, and he had chopped his finger off. There is no room for being squeamish in a kitchen, nor in the job of being a mother. We quickly put his finger in a Ziploc bag of ice, and bandaged it as fast as possible. We got him a ride to the hospital, and he was on his way, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I turn back to continue my job, and I see the Ziploc bag of ice with John's finger in it. He forgot it on the way to the hospital. The panic and insanity and frustration and hilarity of a cook and a mother all hit me at the same time.
When you cook for like 700 people a day, the last thing you want to do is cook when you get home. But when there are little mouths to feed, you suck it up and get creative. There are days when my children have sat down to beautiful and intricate meals, eaten at the fanciest restaurants in town, and been spoiled by a mama that can cook the hell out of anything. When the kid's friends or teachers find out what I do for a living, they think the kids are the luckiest kids in the world. Little do they know. Frozen taquitos, microwaveable pasta, and crackers & hummus are common meals when I cook all day for other people. Luckily, the kids also know how to cook, and can easily feed themselves. But that struggle is real.
A woman chef must balance her two families. The babies at home, and her kitchen family. She has to balance a delicate household of pure craziness. Her children will learn that mama will not always be there when they want her to be, but she will be there every time she is needed. Home life gets creative. Luckily, the kids are easy going, and roll with the punches of life. If a woman works for a good restaurant, she will be rewarded for putting her family first. She will be first in line to get special holidays off. She will be admired for managing a career and a family - both successfully.
Or, she will work every Mother's Day, and be told, "Hey the kids are sitting at table 38. I'll comp their meal. Happy Mother's Day?" Either way, I wouldn't trade it for the world.