on family

I spent the better part of the afternoon making some fried chicken and crumble bars to take on a trip to see family tomorrow.  It is, for us, an important trip – we are going to see Jim’s niece and her new husband in their home.  And with that simple visit, this trip will bring us back to where we started our current journey about a year ago – for his niece, although she doesn’t know it, was one of the catalyst moments for us in making the decision to move on with our lives from the restaurants.

We missed her wedding last fall.  It was one of hundreds of family events, gatherings, and celebrations that we had missed over the past 10 years – but it came at a time when we were both starting to show some fraying around the edges from a particularly hard run and it was the first wedding in Jim’s family that we had to miss.  And it was definitely the first of a series of what we knew, ominously enough, were going to be particularly rough misses in the coming months as the holidays and some big family events approached.

That miss launched us into a series of conversations where we started saying…what are we doing?

I started with a very small family network to begin.  My extended family is quite large, but I, in all honesty, don’t know all of those branches of the family tree particularly well.  A series of unfortunate disagreements at family gatherings when I was small sent my parents out to build our family on their own terms – quite literally half way around the world from the rest of the family.  And, it meant that our little band of 4 was what I came to know as family.

When I married into my husband’s family, it was a bit of a different story.  There were so many layers, so many pieces and parts to the family story – and he was very much amongst all of it.

And then our own blended family grew, with the addition of grand children, and it seemed in a moment that my very small understanding of the workings of a family tripled overnight.

In the span of a few years, family came to mean so many different things to me and being a part of it, in all its iterations, came to take on more weight.

In the early years of the restaurants, we tried to make time for family and for life.  We tried to seek that much discussed balance between what we felt we needed to do and achieve at the restaurants and what we felt we needed to do and wanted to do in our lives outside of them.

But, that balance is elusive.  Strike that.  That balance is damn near impossible.

Something always seems to be throwing a little more weight one way or the other – and so you miss one birthday, one party, one outing, one trip.  You start to return phone calls and emails a little slower because you know, oh you know, that there is going to be some word on why you missed the last one.  And as it slowly starts to happen you keep reminding yourself of what needs to get done, everyone will understand, family will still be there when you finally get to the spot where you can start paying more and better attention.

Before you know it, you are deep into the pile of misses.  The family and life part of the balance is sitting squarely on the ground staring at you like an angry little troll.  And suddenly all of the tasks that just had to get done first start feeling much less important.

It is then when anything can become a catalyst.  And for us, that was her wedding last fall.  It brought us to the point where we both said, okay, time to stop.

Amidst all of the craziness of the restaurants I had a number of people telling me that I needed to make sure I wasn’t living to work, but rather working to live.

I am going to have to call a bit of bullshit on that one.  We all live to work a bit.  It’s what happens when we want our business to succeed, and we want to make what we created better.

But, what I do believe, the advice that I think makes sense to me now – at any point in time it’s still your life.  That I believe.

It might be a bit of an abrupt change in plan.  It clearly is a very different start for the next 10 years.  But, in all honesty, it’s my life still.  And, if I think that the next 10 needs a few less misses and few more moments of family – then, I think that is something I can do.

I’ll keep you posted. xo Andrea


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Rebecca says:

    I always enjoyed your Tuesday morning emails and now more so than ever! I can relate to so much that you are sharing about the restaurant life ~ the passion and joy of being a part of it, the idiosyncrasies that are a part of some days, the dedication that entails missing out in so many occasions with those closest to us.

    You are a great writer ~ should think about a book!

    Thank you for still keeping up with these thoughts and tales of your journey!


  2. Dorian DiPace says:

    Thanks for sharing. You write so magnificently! I can relate to how difficult it is to be torn between work obligations and family life.we all want to succeed but at what price. Much happiness as you catch up w family and with whatever you do in the future.


  3. Christl says:

    I totally second Rebecca – I would totally buy a book by you, Andrea! I love your insights and it speaks beyond the restaurant industry.


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