A Selfish Habit by Amanda

Amanda is mom of 2 year old twin girls and a 4 month old boy.  She is a wife and daycare provider who woke up one day, no longer afraid to “tell it like she sees it”.  In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors, crafting and playing the violin. 

Every day, I add a very tiny amount of arsenic to the family dinner, the same dinner my small children eat, the same food my body feeds on so that I in turn can pass on to my infant through my breastmilk. My husband prefers to put it in his water, take a sip, swish it around his mouth a few times and spit it back out, then feed it to the kids. None of this is probably enough to hurt them in one dose but over time, I have been warned that it can cause cancer or other diseases. The packaging tells me all about the dangers. I don’t care though because I think arsenic tastes so good. I’ve been eating it my entire life to the point where I am addicted. So far I’m fine so my kids have nothing to worry about.

How ridiculous does this sound? Some of you are going to hate this topic. 

I will be the first to admit that I was a smoker for almost 10 years. (I can almost hear all you smokers out there go “ughh”! I said you weren’t going to like the topic). I picked up the habit in high school and when I met my husband a few years later, he was a smoker too. At the worst of it, we were 1 pack a day each. We tried to quit several times but as soon as a stressful situation would arise, I needed “just one more” and then it was “I’ll quit again next month”.

That all changed the minute that first pregnancy test revealed some surprising news. I walked straight to that garbage and ditched the sticks. I was done. My husband took a little more convincing but when I showed him an article on 2nd & 3rd hand smoke, he realized that his smoking could affect our babies more than ever thought possible and he quit too. It was hard, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But there was never a moment of weakness. These were my children we were talking about. Not only did I want to do everything possible to start these babies out on a healthy path, I wanted to be around for as long as I could as well so that my children could have their parents for as long as possible.

I am completely embarassed that I ever picked up one of those disgusting things. I don’t know why I smoked for so long and I do have a large feeling of guilt inside me.  I feel guilty that my smoking before I found out I was pregnant could have caused problems for my girls.  That any of my own 2nd hand smoke could have contributed to the health problems of others – or that my smoking caused a problem to my own health that I won’t know about until it is too late. I am scared. I am sorry.

So it angers me, no, infuriates me when I see a parent smoking. I hate the excuses, I dispise the ridiculous claims that “it’s just too hard”. The hard truth is that YOU AREN’T TRYING HARD ENOUGH! You claim you will do anything for your kids, yet you won’t do this. You are a hypocrite. They say that you won’t quit until you YOU truly want to. So what are you waiting for? Or do you not want to? Are you seriously that selfish?

I lost a friend over this. I hate to say it but she smoked in her home in what she called her “smoking room”. She had fans and kept the window open at all times and played the role of the stupid woman who thought that was actually working. Yet when I would visit her home, I could immediately smell the smoke and even if I was only there for a quick minute, I left reaking of an ashtray. She had 2 children who were constantly getting sick. She couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t bring my kids to her house for playdates. I finally told her the smoking is why we wouldn’t visit. It didn’t go over well at all. She gave me her excuses and I gave her my responses.

“I’ve tried to quit and nothing works”. – Have you tried not buying any? That seems to be a good start.  How about any of the many free support systems out there?  Have you talked to your doctor?

“My life is so stressful right now so I need them”. – Are you telling me that all non-smokers have wonderful stress-free lives? How do you think we deal with our stress?

“My grandmother smoked for 50 years and she’s the picture of health”. – If you are seriously that naive, then you have more problems than just the smoking!

I could go on, the conversation didn’t get any better. She acted like I was making up all the facts: How the chemicals cling to your clothing, your hair, your skin. So even if leave the room or go outside to smoke, when you come back in, you are a danger to anyone who comes into close contact with you (such as a child giving you a hug). It’s sad but we aren’t friends anymore. 

You may think that is mean of me but each and every one of us who exposes our children to smoking through friends/family are just as guilty.  Stand your ground.  Tell them you will not visit if they are a smoker.  Is keeping a good relationship with that person really worth the risks to your childs health?  If you think so, then that’s your choice but I think too many of us are cowards.  MY KIDS COME FIRST.  If YOU don’t stick up for your kids, who will?

I think I’m getting away from the point here, which is that parents need to stop smoking!  For those of you who are non-smoking households, I’m not trying to point fingers at you but  I think you should really think about  at the very least decreasing these exposures. 

I know I’m being harsh.  I also know that I’m not a perfect parent and I’m not claiming to be one, but I am absolutely sick of people ignoring something that kills!  I’m sure most of you make sure your child gets a good amount of exercise and plenty of good food right?  So how is exposing them to 2nd or 3rd hand smoke acceptable to you?  

I know some of you are still thinking I’m wrong, I don’t understand, it’s not that easy, etc.  After all, it’s an addiction and the smokers are the victims here, right!?  So fine, if that’s how you feel, go for it. Spend your life in your little bubble telling the world you are doing what’s best for your children.  And when they get their next illness, whether it be a simple cold, a flu or God forbid cancer, try not to think about how the 2nd & 3rd hand smoke might have  been a trigger or be making them worse… after all, you’ve done everything you possibly can to quit, right?

– A 

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3 thoughts on “A Selfish Habit by Amanda

  1. Wow. So this is another good topic, and a very controversial one as well.

    Not proud either, but
    Myself and hubby are both smokers, and we have 4 children. I’m well aware of the 2nd and 3rd hand smoke regardless of smoking outside. I won’t use any excuses because no we haven’t quit. Wed like too yes, and it’s really as simple as not buying them at all. Yes stress makes you wanna smoke having a drink as well, but in reality it’s a habit, and a bad one to break. I see it in my sil who was smoking more than a pack a day and with a stop smoking aide due to her health, quit before Xmas. I do however see what the side effects of the habit are…..because she’s not smoking she has replaced the habit with eating, which in turn has put her to gain a lot of weight. Again no excuse.

    For myself personally, I’m working on personal goals one at a time. I’m working out and losing weight and I do plan to quit smoking before the summer. But I’m
    Not mentally set to do it yet. Which based on your post is contradictory to your beliefs, but this is what makes this a topic Which most do my wish to talk about.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. AH what a great topic. Amanda just said what I have been secretly thinking in my head for many years.

    I hate to take sides here but I think you may have missed the point Sam. Your response is the exact, I hate to say it, load of crap that Amanda seems to be trying to point out – you are putting yourself 1st and your kids 2nd, plain and simple. If you are only working on 1 goal at a time, then shouldn’t you be working on the goal that is physically harming your children before anything else?

  3. Great words Amanda. I don’t smoke- never have. I lost my father to lung cancer when I was 7 (obviously the main reason I never picked one up). Unfortunately my hubby does. He said when I got pregnant he would quit before the baby was born. Now that Nolan is 20 months its “I’ll quit before he’s 2”

    We’ve almost broken up over it a couple times because I feel so strongly about it as well. I won’t let our little man in his daddy’s car because its basically a hot box of old smoke.

    I’m going to make him read this 🙂 thanks lol

    Kenzie

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