Quittin' Time

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My mom has smoked as long as I can remember. My dad smoked too, but not like her. It's constant; anything stressful, she smokes. I don't want anyone to feel judged, but whenever I'm around a smoker I just feel gross, like I have a layer of grit on me (much like a city near a lot of factories.) the smell stays on you forever, yellows your teeth, gives you wrinkles around the mouth, and most important to me, it endangers you and your family. Every time I inhale second hand smoke (far more toxic than the filtered that the smoker enjoys) my lungs are clogged and blackened with toxins and I increase my risk of lung cancer. Multiply that by 24 years of exposure, and you can see why I might be concerned. Add to that a family history of cancers of all kinds, even in people who take care of themselves (including the current smoker) and perhaps you'll understand why I just freaking hate it with all my being. This is not a habit that hurts only you, it hurts everyone around you, whether you can see it or not. If you have kids (who don't already smoke, another downside to being a smoking parent) you should know that my relationship with my mom has never been as good as it could be. Why? I really resent that cigarettes are more important to her than her and her family's health. I think it's insulting, and for a long time I wouldn't go around them. My feelings were so strong - "Why would you risk your future with us for something so stupid? Do you not care about us at all? How are you going to feel if I become sick later; will you always wonder if it was your fault?" It sounds melodramatic now, but kids and teenagers feel every emotion intensely, and over time it builds up. So don't think that your kids don't care, even if they say they don't. They are hurt; they worry; they're angry. It will affect your connection in subtle, and not-so-subtle, ways.

I've never pushed my mother to quit (as an adult, anyway) because I know it has to come from her own heart for it to stick. That's why I am SO, SO, SO PROUD OF HER! Today is her quit day, May 8 (the day before my birthday =) and she has been doing it all right. Seeing a smoking cessation counselor, taking a class, getting gum, mints, carrot sticks, etc., (starting a new knitting project to occupy her fingers...) I hope you all will keep her in your thoughts, and us as well because smoking is a very hard habit to drop. Ultimately, though, she will gain something in return that can't be bought at a gas station - the respect of her friends and family, the joy of those who love her, and the feeling that she is finally doing something to care for herself, because she matters.

I should be clear and say that I dearly love my mom, and always have. I also respect her as a business woman and scientist, mom, and wife. It has been very hard to watch a woman that I nearly lost to cancer continue to hurt her own body, as if we didn't need her here! I hope no one misunderstands, but I wanted to be honest about what a child (even a grown one) feels about their parent smoking (or really, doing anything else detrimental to their health!) Just in case there are any parents thinking of quitting... DO IT! =D


lacey said...

That's so great! I'm sure it helps that you are supporting her. My mom has been a lifelong smoker too, and has tried to quit a few times now. Her mother is on oxygen and for a long time was actually unhooking herself from the tank to smoke one cigarette a day! Yikes..

Grandma Barb said...

Kudos and warm hugs to your mom. That's so wonderful - tell her I'm proud that she's done this.

Laurie P said...

B...It's wonderful to hear that your mom has quit smoking. Tell her that there is a great help site on www.about.com. It's a wonderful smoking cessation group that my sister started way back when, and there is a great support group that "runs" the forum who are knowledgeable, caring, and who truly want to help. They've been through it. I've talked to a lot of people who say they couldn't have done it without that group. Please try to get her involved.

A super big HUG to you from me for your birthday!!! Your mom gave you a great gift!

Venka said...

The decision to stop smoking is the easiest part of the process. It has been 2 years since my last cigarette, and that was a birthday present for myself. I had smoked for 23 years, with two periods of time that I didn't smoke for a year to 18 months. I quit cold turkey - no patches, no gum, no programs. My Dad did it on his 40th birthday, so I figured I could too. It was the best gift I could find, not only for myself, but my family. Something my husband said just stuck in the back of my mind - every time I smoked a cigarette I was lying to him. I was taking our future away from us. I was being very selfish.

I hope your mom is still on the right path. I know it isn't easy. I was a stress smoker, and when I'm having a really bad day it's quite an internal struggle not to buy a pack. When she hits a milestone, 3 or 6 months, send her flowers or give her a little something, just to let her know how much you appreciate her accomplishment. And remind her, she's not alone.