Scene: My kid is at play group. I watch her head over to the play kitchen, find the microwave, and start punching in numbers with a studied expertise. My heart swells with pride. It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me I should feel guilty. My husband has been TDY for two weeks, and he’ll be gone for about five more days. School started the day he left, and I developed a school night and school morning routine all by myself.
Yeah, most of our dinners are microwaved at least in part. So what? I am a golden god.
Occasionally friends will admit to me with some small embarrassment that while their spouses were deployed, they gave in and had Hamburger Helper once, or that they didn’t always make dinner from scratch every night. Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was a problem for people until my friends started to quietly confess these things to me, like I was a parish priest in a mob movie and they’d just dumped a body in the East River.
Correspondingly, my reaction to these confessions were like if the priest responded incredulously, “That’s a sin? Oh wow. Oh. Oh, wow. I need to…I’ll just um…yeah, you’re fine. Don’t worry about it,” and then rushed out of the confessional mopping his brow.
Maybe it’s because I was formula fed. Maybe it’s my healthy BMI despite a deep 90s kid familiarity with Dunkaroos, Squeezits, Lunchables, and multicolored sugary breakfast cereals. But honestly, it never occurred to me to feel guilty that the other night, every single item on our plates was microwaved. Instead, it struck me as incredibly cool. Seasoned taco meat, ready in minutes in the microwave – score! Southwestern rice – you don’t even need to take it out of the bag to nuke it – even bigger score! I’m pretty sure the only other person on this planet who is more in love with nuking things right now is Kim Jong Un. And honestly? I can totally see it. It’s so handy! Minimal cleanup, too (for my kind of nuking). I spent more time cleaning up Play-Doh today than I spent cleaning up after our better-living-through-science taco night.
Believe it or not, I am actually pretty health conscious. In fact, according to WebMD, “Nutritionally speaking, frozen veggies are similar to — and sometimes better than — fresh ones.” Never mind that this is the same website that routinely tells me I have any number of rare, fatal diseases. In this instance, it’s convenient for me to believe they are 100% right on this issue, just as in those other instances, I have to tell myself WebMD doesn’t know everything, ok. Our commissary sells microwavable low carb plant-based meals, and healthy, low-calorie dinners, and you’d better believe I’m filling my cart with those. While pretty much all of our microwave dinners feature fresh fruits or vegetables that my kids are required to eat, I also don’t mind cutting corners. Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for dinner? Throw some frozen peas on it, you’ve got yourself a well-balanced meal. Bagel pizzas? Buy the low-sodium turkey pepperoni and organic bagels and tomato sauce, it’s basically health food now. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if I outlived all of you.
Here’s a thought exercise for the next time you feel a pang of guilt for heating up a Kid Cuisine for your kids (or heck, for yourself). Close your eyes (after you’re done reading this, obviously). Travel back in time to the 19th century and whine to a frontier Army wife about how one night you just couldn’t even and you made your kids Hamburger Helper. Tell me if she doesn’t deck you for poor-mouthing the absolutely amazing conveniences available to tired military spouses in 2017.
Maybe save telling her about FaceTime and texting for another trip.