With Three Busy Teens Fast Food Is A Way Of Life; I Won’t Apologize for It

I have an appointment today at 3:30 that is going to take a few hours. When I made it, the schedule was clear and I figured it would be a great way to indulge and unwind–there is power in sitting in a chair for a few hours to get a cut and color—then come home and have dinner simmering in the slow-cooker.

I should have known better. I discovered shortly after I made the date with myself (a date that is very hard to make because of my hair dresser’s schedule), that my son has to be at work at around the time she’ll be giving me the best haircut a woman could ask for.

I also heard through the grapevine my daughter has plans this evening which will force me to go from my post-scalp massage state to a full sprint to get her where she needs to be after I (somehow) get my son to work.

This morning, I got a message saying school was getting out early because of the PSAT (I’m the one responsible for getting my kids). That puts a wrench in my afternoon plan which was to do some work and some errands, so that I could prep dinner later in the day.

I was excited to make that damn chili tonight. I have all the ingredients stacked up in my Crock-Pot because last night when the house was quiet and I had a chance to get my mind wrapped around the day ahead I thought it would be a sprint-free evening and we could enjoy a bowl of homemade chili in front of the fireplace.

Silly me.

We are going to have to hit the drive-thru tonight, as we often do, and I’m tired of feeling guilty about it.

I have three busy teens who are hungry all the time. I never know what’s coming next. Gone are the days when keeping a box of granola bars in the car for emergencies does the trick. My people can eat a box of granola bars and that may take the edge off their hunger for exactly five minutes, if I’m lucky. But probably not.

hamburger and fries
Sometimes with three teens, you have to get fast food. (@amyatkins via Twenty20)

I Refuse to Feel Guilty About Fast Food for Dinner

I cannot sit here and tell you lies, either. While I realize fast food is bad for us (I’ve gotten the memo many times), it’s has become necessary for my survival and my sanity a few nights a week.

I love the quickness of it. I love we that we can sit in the car and eat. I love that I don’t have to clean up or think. There is something for all my kids and while they might not be the best way to get your veggies, all fast food joint offer salads. They are delicious and I’m a fan. Also, I love the way fast food smells. It reminds me of being eight and going out on a Friday night with my sisters, dying to see what toy was in my happy meal.

Oh, and did I mention how attractive the large fountain soda machines are to this frazzled mother who literally has no idea what day of the week it is? Yeah, they’re a life-saver. A large soda is my new seven minutes in heaven.

These are all things I tell myself to assuage my guilt around our lifestyle. Then I can sit back and relax in a cushy booth where dinner is served in exactly 5 minutes and the only thing I have to do is hand over my debit card.

At least we are sitting together talking over salty fries and sugar-loaded ketchup. At least I didn’t lose my patience trying to make a nice meal happen in the twenty minutes we have to eat together. And, I don’t have to listen to my three teenagers talk about how hungry they are for a few hours because a twelve-inch meat-stacked sub does wonders for their out- of- control appetite.

Mothers try to do it all which is why we aren’t smiling all the time. It is also why we sometimes leave the keys in the refrigerator. We need running shoes just to get through the day, even if we don’t run. We put every appointment in our phone, or on the calendar hanging on the wall, and we ask for reminders but we still forget.

When an evening looks free, it’s usually not because when you have teenagers, there are no empty spaces, no lulls in the action. There are no chances to catch your damn breath. We have to keep moving which means that sometimes we take shortcuts like heading to our favorite fast food joint instead of making a home-cooked meal for our children who apparently have hollow limbs.

It also means that we need to give ourselves a break and accept this is the way life is for a moment. There will be plenty of time to make chili and all the other meals I have on my Pinterest board when things slow down a bit.

Which we all know will be when they are grown and gone but hey, we all need something to look forward to, right?

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our fast food, the chance to take a breather, and the fact there aren’t any dishes tonight, thankyouverymuch.

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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