Patience And Lots Of Love, Says This Successful Chef On Balancing Motherhood With Work
Being a mother in itself is a very demanding role to fulfill and being a chef is another side of my life that requires equal attention. Every day is a challenge, as I try to balance my busy work life with my daughter’s needs.
A typical day for me would be waking up in the morning to prepare my daughter, Miel, for school. This includes cooking her meals and making sure she has everything for the day. When she leaves, I get ready for work. I am lucky that my kitchen is beside my house so I don’t deal with the traffic. Then upon clocking in the kitchen, I deal with paper work, potential projects/events, store operations, kitchen production, meetings, inventory, staff concerns, etc. etc. etc. until mid-afternoon. At 3 pm, I pick up my daughter from school, help her with her homework, and spend time with her until 7 pm. Then I go back to my kitchen if I still have unfinished orders. Twenty-four hours doesn’t seem to be enough time.
The author at work in her kitchen
Yes, I still manage to post decent photos of myself in my social media accounts, but before those good shots, I would have stains on my shirt, minor arguments with Miel on what she should wear, burnt cookies, tears of frustration because Miel’s ID was misplaced, and tons of veins on my hardworking hands. If you ask me if I chose to be a chef? I would say “yes.” If you ask me if I chose this career in preparation for being a mother? I would say “yes” to that, too. But little did I know that both would be equally demanding. The only advantage I have is that my schedule can be flexible towards Miel’s needs. Now that Miel is older, being in the kitchen has become our bonding, too. She would bake with me or make her own batch of cookies beside me. Recently, she learned how to formulate her own recipes. And so, we found a common passion (aside from shopping) which is baking.
Pastillas cheesecake for the author’s daughter’s birthday
Being a chef has taught me so many lessons in life that I hope my daughter will be able to learn as well.
1. Patience. Baking requires patience. You cannot bake in a hurry. You have to wait until the cake is baked according to the recipe. If it says one hour, then you have to wait for an hour without opening and closing the oven door to check. Patience. I have learned how to respect Miel’s pace in growing up and learning things. I try to hear her out and respect what she can and cannot understand yet. I learned to wait for her to learn and embrace things and not to rush her into just doing what I tell her to do.
From the author’s La Brazorria de Lasevil shop, brazo available with sugar flower bouquet just for Mother’s Day
2. Not being wasteful. All materials, both edible and non-edible, come from nature. So we should learn to use them with respect. When creating recipes, we should learn to apply calculated risks to be able to lessen the possibility of wasting food. The same with Miel—I always tell her not to play with her food, to just get what she can finish, and not to use materials as if they are disposable. Whatever you can reuse, reuse. We should take care of our equipment also so that they don’t get broken right away.
The author’s Pastel de Amor cake from Forget Me Not Specialty Cakes
3. To love what you do. I always tell Miel that if she is going to do something half-heartedly, she might as well not do it at all. It is the love you feel while baking that makes your baked products different from anyone else’s.
4. You are not perfect. You don’t know it all. Learn to listen. Not everyone will be a fan of what you make. Learn to listen to other people’s suggestions and opinions. This can lead you to be a better chef with better products. But learn how to differentiate constructive criticism from destructive criticism. You should never stop learning.
5. Failing or not getting what you want or expect is not the end of the world. Just keep on trying.
The author is the chef-owner of Forget Me Not Specialty Cakes, Miel’s Pastillerie, and La Brazorria de Lasevil. Follow Forget Me Not Specialty Cakes and La Brazorria de Lasevil on Facebook.