Friday, October 5, 2007

Her little secret

My mom is a closet smoker. She has done it for basically my entire life: I can remember her smoking as a child, and then her and my godmother went through this big awakening and "quit". I was a little little girl when this happened, but I remember it clearly because I stole a piece of her nicorette gum and chewed it. Needless to say, that was not a fun taste or experience, forever burning it onto my mind.

Last weekend I went down to U of Idaho to watch the football game with my Dad. My dad is always very open with my brother and I, and I appreciate his ability to not only see us as his children, but as his best friends as well.
My dad is a smoker too, however, he does not try to hide it. The subject came up that I really want my dad to stop slowly killing himself with this awful habit. My dad is having surgery this month on his neck (he has some disks that are crushed and ruining his nerves) and he promised that the surgery will be the time he needs to stop. He also has a back up promise- if he cannot do it on his own he will get help. He knows it is important to me and his family to take care of his body, which made me happy to hear.

Now, back to my mom. My brother and I have always known she was smoking on the sly- she would go outside to "let the dogs out" and come back smelling stinky and smoky. Or we would come out to the garage and she would be frazzled and weird.
Neither my brother nor I have ever actually approached her about it because it is an awkward situation for us both. Well, I learned from my dad that my mom smokes a pack a day. A PACK!! I was figuring like 2 or 3 cigs a day to take the edge off... she's a nurse for crying in the night!

So now I'm worried. I'm worried she will develop lung cancer and my beautiful, kind, warm, loving momma will get sick. I'm so scared and worried about losing her early. I'm also angry at her for being so selfish and secretive. My dad said that she even hides it from her co-workers and best friends. It's a problem.

So, my dilemma is how to approach her. I don't even know how to talk to her about something like this, or how to bring it up. I was thinking of writing her a letter, that way she can see my feelings but not feel embarrassed or ashamed.

I don't want my mom to be ashamed. I don't want her to have a broken heart from my pain.

I just want her to quit.


AJ said...

I understand. Although my father never smoked, my mother did. She was very courteous - never smoked in the car and never inside ('car and home: smoke-free zone')

I never gave my mum a hard time about it. She knew it was bad for her, she already felt ostricised (sp?) from her non-smoking friends (and kept it a secret from them as well), but of course smoking is addictive and that's why she kept doing it.

Until one day a few years ago when she and I went shopping. As we left the shopping centre and walked to the car, ordinarily she would light up then, but this time she didn't.

That's when she told me that she had given up smoking and hadn't had a cigarette in two weeks. She didn't want to tell anyone in case she had a slip up. To this day, she is still a non-smoker.

I think quitting smoking is a personal thing, and really, any amount of pleading or pressure from loved ones only adds to the stress of the smoker, and doesn't necessarily result in constructive encouragement to quit.

I hope your mum one day finds the strength and willpower to quit when the time is right for her.

Michelle said...

both of my parents smoked as well. i can relate. when i was younger i pressured them about quitting but found that it didn't change their mind one way or the other.

finally my dad quit last year on his birthday, but i just found out from my stepmom he's been sneaking them. it's hard to find out your parents have been smoking.

if you can be honest with your mom about how you feel. it wouldn't hurt. but try not to be upset if she doesn't follow thru with quitting. i think that has to come from her own personal decision.

Marriage-101 said...

I agree with Michelle and AJ. She knows it's bad. She knows how you feel about her smoking even though you've never said it. She knows.

Personally, I don't think voicing it would do any good, as quitting is a personal decision, but maybe your parents will quit together. You might be able to encourage them that way.

Ann said...

I agree that you telling her you want her to quit won't help her...but I think that your mom is such an amazing person that you should be able to have a conversation about it with her as adults. Maybe that way she will realize that she can talk to you as a friend, instead of feeling like she has to be set apart as a parent. If I were you I would just get it out in the open and tell her she doesn't have to hide it from you, but that you do care and want her to trust you with things that are going on in her life.

who knows if my opinions are the right ones, but I do think that being open about these kind of things would bring the two of you even closer.

(don't worry your moms secret is safe with me)

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