Childrearing

I Quit Smoking For My Kid But The Stress Of Parenting Her Has Me Smoking Again

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I have no doubt that pregnancy helped me stay on the wagon. Smelling my husband’s cigarette smoke made me nauseated. And finally, days started to pass where I didn’t even think about a cigarette, not once. Even more miraculously, two months before my baby’s due date, my husband quit smoking, too.

In November of 2011, she was born. Literally minutes after our successful home birth, my husband took off to buy himself a pack of Camels. I, however, was so deeply saturated in the haze of cloud nine that a cigarette was the last thing on my mind.

But a few months after her birth, I was offered a clove cigarette while hanging out with friends. I figured if I didn’t really inhale, it didn’t count. Somehow I smoked it and woke up the next day with no desire to have another. This happened again a few weeks later; one clove and that was it. I was like the characters in old movies, able to enjoy a cigarette socially, like dessert, and then be done with it. I thought maybe I had the self-control to go on this way forever. After all, I still enjoy donuts on occasion, but I don’t need one every hour to function. Why couldn’t cigarettes be like that?

So up until that horrendous night, I didn’t consider myself a smoker. But that night changed everything. When I came back inside after smoking, my body was quivering from the buzz. Oh, how I’d missed this.

An hour later, I went back outside to smoke again. But this time, my daughter crawled over to the French doors and pulled up against the glass to watch me. What she did was heartbreaking.

She looked at me, her gray eyes round and curious. Then she looked at my hand, the one holding the cigarette. She looked back at me, but this time her brow was slightly furrowed, like she didn’t quite understand what I was doing. She had seen her dad smoke before, so seeing her mom holding a cigarette was probably strange to her.

I hid it behind my back, the same way I did that night at Borders. And it hit me: how was I able to quit for someone else’s kids, but not for my own?

It’s because parenting is not what I thought it would be. There are things I’m doing right, things that bring me joy like I’ve never felt before. But there are difficulties I could’ve never foreseen. And if I have to indulge in a nightly cigarette in order to cope with the disappointing aspects of parenthood, I’m oddly at peace with that.

(photo: gcpics/ Shutterstock)

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