Hurry up and Slow down by Rachel Miller
I went through pregnancy thinking I would bounce back and jump into life on the other side the same me, just with a baby in tow.
“I’m going to open a retail storefront of my bakery, two months after I have the baby,” I would tell people, who all would look at me, turn their head to the side, give me a quizitive look, and then just nod agreement. Probably a “just smile and nod at the crazy pregnant lady.”
“Take your time,” one of my friends in the same boat (chef + new baby), told me. “The work will be there after. Enjoy your baby.” I’d roll my eyes. I can do both. I can have it all, I would think.
I spent a good 6 weeks on bedrest before my sweet baby arrived. As a person who is used to driving forward her career as a chef and writer, and building a business, the prescription from my midwives to relax, watch Netflix, take 3 epsom salt baths per day, do nothing stressful, stop working, and lay around, made me nuts.
9 days past her due date, Dottie Grayce entered the world. From the moment the midwife placed a squirming, red baby onto my chest, my heart exploded with love and my world flipped upside down. Everything slowed down and my world now revolved around a stunning baby girl. To say I wasn’t prepared for that moment is an understatement.
I know that sounds insane. You go through 9 months of pregnancy, 6 weeks of bed rest, over due by 9 days, and 17 hours of un-medicated labor and are not prepared for that moment? I was so focused on doing what I needed to get my baby here safely, I wasn’t emotional preparing myself for the moment they placed her on me. The world instantly became clear and hazy all at once.
My speedy pace slowed to a crawl, where I spend full days just focused on taking care of my baby. Where was I in a rush to go? What existed outside of her? I cannot do both, as the thought of leaving my new baby slammed closed my previous charge forward to open a bakery two months after the baby arrived.
So now the question, how to be a mom and a chef/food writer? How to work at a business as an entrepreneur that is demanding, and also be there for my kid? I was just gaining traction as a chef with my pastry business, and frankly I was insane to think I would just pop the baby out and keep rolling in the kitchen. You can’t strap a baby to you and work in a professional kitchen. What the hell was I thinking?
I dream of writing cookbooks and winning a James Beard award, but honestly, I am madly in love with raising my kid too. I love that she goes everywhere with me, and that we haven’t been apart since her birth. I don’t want to be back to being so busy that I don’t have time for these moments or give them to someone else to experience with her.
I don’t know anymore how to be just a chef. I don’t think there are any quick easy answer for career + baby, and this doesn’t tie up in a neat bow of me telling you how to have it all. I think we just have to figure what is important and what we need in each precious moment. I am learning how to be me, the chef and the mama, for the first time. But for right now, I get to sit here and write this with my sweet baby napping next to me.
Rachel Ellrich Miller is a chef, food writer and photographer, and mama to the lovely Dottie, living in Phoenix, Arizona. She has contributed to the Christian Science Monitor and Green Living AZ, and been a columnist for Phoenix New Times, Arizona Vines and Wines magazine, and Molly Mahar’s Stratejoy.com.