I Quit Smoking For My Kid But The Stress Of Parenting Her Has Me Smoking Again
It’s 11 at night and my 10-month-old daughter won’t go to bed. My husband is preparing to sleep on the couch, yet again, so the baby and I can have the bed to ourselves. He’s been doing this for months now, and in turn, he’s been getting unbroken sleep —meaning he’s prone to Hulk syndrome, liable to morph into an unrecognizable mass of angry green husband at any given moment. This is one of those moments. Between our yelling and the baby’s crying, I’m genuinely shocked our neighbors haven’t called the police or CPS.
My husband self-medicates with cigarettes and video games. My only respite since Goober’s birth has been the shower, and my dry skin is starting to hint that I should find a new form of stress relief.
So when I took one of my husband’s cigarettes out on the balcony that night and smoked for the first time in two years, I guess I had finally just snapped.
As I took one drag after another, I remembered the night long before I was a mom when I had decided to quit. It was January of 2011 and I was standing outside of a Border’s bookstore (remember those?). It might’ve been the caffeine buzz from my Americano, but I had two epiphanies, both of which are probably going to sound stupid.
One happened after I saw a family of four entering the store holding hands. The two doe-eyed brunette children raced ahead of their parents. The parents followed, looking healthy and fit. I hid my cigarette behind my back to keep from offending them. Then I realized I would have kids one day, and how could I possibly keep up with them and snuggle them close when I reeked of cigarette smoke?
The other was when I saw a seriously disabled young woman riding her scooter around inside the store. I realized she was probably born with her disability and sentenced to a short life—and here I was, healthy as could be, intentionally filling my lungs up with smoke.
Yeah, it was definitely the caffeine that lifted off that thought-rocket.
But somehow, those epiphanies were the pushes I needed to start my journey as an ex-smoker. I spent the next couple of weeks manically chewing on cinnamon sticks and eating Krispy Kremes to keep myself distracted. I gained a couple pounds and felt sick from the doughnuts, but I kept reminding myself I was doing it for my kids, the imaginary kids of my future.
And wouldn’t you know it? I got pregnant two months after quitting.