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  • Writer's pictureLiz Fehlman

How parenting is a lot like Taco Bell

Please keep reading.

When I was in college, the only fast food restaurant within stumbling distance of  campus was Taco Bell. It sat on a hill and was secluded from anything else, and that made it a beacon of holy light to any drunk student anxious to use a $1.99 taco to soak up any remaining Boone's Farm wine in their system. I vividly recall many, many trips to this Taco Bell. Most occurred right after bar close and a majority of them involved me throwing my ATM card at the driver from the backseat and screaming my PIN number while simultaneously demanding a Crunchwrap Supreme. To be clear, the driver was almost always a sorority sister or whoever had the pleasure of dating me that weekend..I wouldn't do that to an Uber* driver. I'm not a monster.

After four years of creating these beautiful memories, it shouldn't surprise you that I developed a long, steadfast love for Taco Bell [which I affectionately refer to as "The Bells".] I understand that it's borderline dog meat. I looked behind the counter once and was appalled. And sure, the second it hits my digestive track...I am literally wishing that life had a Reset Button. But there's something oddly comforting about it; reminds me of the good ol' days where a complete meal ran you $4 and verbally abusing your friends from the trunk of your Jeep was acceptable. Perhaps it was the feeling I got knowing I had skirted food poisoning and possible E.coli once again. Plus, have you had their quesadilla? You cannot fuck up a quesadilla and The Bells is proof of that.

In 2006, The Bells launched a questionable marketing campaign called Fourth Meal, which was basically aimed at normalizing my behavior most Friday and Saturday nights between 2004-2008. In my head, I'd like to think that the mission statement of Fourth Meal went something like this:

We here at Taco Bell know what it's like to be tired. To be so exhausted that you've forgotten to eat. You've spent your whole day caring for others that you've forgotten to care about yourself. Come hither! Let us take care of you at 2 am. Let us give you that little slice of 'me time' before another hectic day starts again. 

In reality, I know that the Fourth Meal campaign was really just their way of justifying later hours, increasing revenue, and capitalizing on the Drunk Liz's of the world.

God, I hope you all see where I'm going with this. Parenting is a lot like Fourth Meal.

  1. It's going to be a wild ride. Much like Fourth Meal, no one goes into Parenting with a sound mind or body. No one ever enters saying "Yeah! Let's do this! This is going to 100% fun and easy and a super smooth ride!" If you did, you were drunk or in denial. You were the 2006 Liz in the back of a Jeep screaming out confidential bank codes.

  2. It can be lonely. Entering The Bells during Fourth Meal is a desolate wasteland of sad. There's almost always someone passed out at a table, and the single cashier will always raise an eyebrow at you in judgement. Like, "bro, really? I don't even want to be here. Go home and make a Hot Pocket like a respectable adult." Parenting? Also lonely. Find yourself a tribe. Surround yourself with a few other normal adults who are also suffering through this Fourth Meal/Parenting thing with you. Try to avoid the Parenting version of the Cashier, though. (Hint: her name is Karen and she's the one with the GF snacks.)

  3. There's going to be explosive diarrhea. I don't feel like this one needs an explanation.

  4. It's natural to crave some Me Time. Sometimes, after an evening of dancing with creepy men twice my age or drinking Long Islands the size of a newborn, I just wanted some Me Time. In college, I found that slice of heaven in the back of my Jeep cuddled up with a Party Pack. As a parent, sometimes I sit in my car for an extra 5-45 minutes before going inside to the hell that awaits. Other times, I pretend I'm pooping. Either way, Me Time is vital to not spontaneously exploding from all the beer or Bubble Guppies you've consumed lately. Make sure you're carving it out.

  5. You're going to have regrets. No one wakes up from Fourth Meal ready to run a marathon (see #3.) There are almost always physical or financial regrets. Kids? Parenting? Check. Check. And before you think, "Whoa, Liz - crossed a line there. You regret your kids?" No. I don't regret my kids. I love my kids more than all the items on the Cravings Value Menu COMBINED. But I have regrets about the decisions I've made for or about my kids. And you will too. I question so much about how my partner and I are raising them; the values we're instilling, the lessons we're teaching them, how many fruit snacks I let them eat. These are the things, among many more, that have me wide awake at 3 am.  In college, the only thing that kept me up at night was the GI discomfort. Parenting is the real shit that keeps you up at night (pun absolutely intended.)

I'm sure there are plenty more disgusting and inappropriate correlations between a mediocre fast-food chain and the idea of raising tiny humans to be good people, but you've made it this far and I know when to stop. Unless I'm eating a Cheesy Bean and Rice burrito...then I do not.

A lot of you have asked what I've been doing since I decided to give up The Facebook to invest more mental energy into my creative outlets. This is it. This is literally all I've done.

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