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Smokin' moms

Is being seen buying cigarettes really worse than getting caught buying meth at the park?

By Kristen Kennedy May 30, 2013 11:19PM

I live in Seattle, where smoking is about as socially acceptable as kicking kittens. You just don't do it in public, and if you do, everyone thinks you're a terrible person — unless you're drunk or at a bachelorette party--or both.

And if you're a mom? Well, just go get all of your cut-off t-shirts printed with "Classless moron" on them, because that's what everyone will be thinking anyway. Nobody actually says that, of course, but they're thinking it. This is Seattle, after all.

Kristen Kennedy

Last fall, my mom came to visit me. She's a smoker — and has been for close to 50 years. And while she’s developed a pretty nasty cough over the last few years, she’s otherwise remarkably healthy for age 72.  In fact, one of the few things my siblings and I agree on is that our mother is likely to outlive us all.

She smoked while she was pregnant with all three of her children. And except for my sister, who was a couple weeks premature, we all turned out OK. Sure, none of us weighed more than 6 lbs. at birth, but this was also back in the day when pregnant women weren’t arrested for having an occasional glass of wine at dinner or a cigarette now and then.

She's tried to quit several times, but appears to have given up entirely on the idea of ever being smoke-free.

"What's the point now?" she says.

I can’t argue with that. Quitting would probably kill her faster than smoking for another 20 years. She smokes less than she used to, and actually doesn't smoke around any of us kids or her grandkids. She'll go outside or behind a closed door — and then claim she wasn’t smoking.

When my 7-year-old daughter saw her smoking for the first time, she stormed into my bedroom and announced with great indignation, "Grandma Jo-Jo is smoking."

And then: "Are the police going to come?"

The kicker, as mom likes to say, was when she asked me to pick up a pack of cigarettes for her at the corner store. The carton she traveled with had finally run dry.

"Hey, Kris, if I give you a twenty, can you run to the store and get me a pack of cigarettes?"

This was asked while she stood next to the picket fence that wraps around my house, the one she'd spent several days cleaning and painting. My mom can’t sit still, so to keep busy, she hand-washed my fence and then painted most of it. And she did it all while I was at work, so each day I returned to see a brighter, cleaner fence.

And yet, all I could think was, Buy cigarettes? In public? I'd rather be caught buying meth at the park.

Truth is, I was stunned. I hadn’t bought cigarettes at a store in maybe 15 years. I actually had to think about whether I could even buy them at a store anymore.

I ended up driving to a convenience store in another neighborhood.

Once inside, I scanned the mini-mart aisles to make sure I didn’t see any one I knew before approaching the counter. "A pack of Marlboro Lights," I mumbled, while looking intently at my shoes. And then, without anyone asking, I added, "They're for my mom."

The cashier replied, “Nine dollars, please.”

“Nine dollars?! When did that happen?” Surely my outrage at the cost of cigarettes proved that I wasn’t a smoker, I thought to myself. The cashier only snapped her gum and offered, “Second highest to New York, I believe.”

I stuffed the cigs in my bag and drove home, where I handed my mom her cigarettes, enough to last until her flight home the following day.

I kept the change.

Read more of Kristen's stuff at her blog...

Jun 5, 2013 9:50PM
Bottom line: My mom smoked, it killed her, I miss her. If this is what you want to inflict upon your children, you don't deserve to be a mother.
Jun 5, 2013 3:43PM

If I lived my life worrying about what other people thought about me I might understand your story better Kristen. I grew up in the 50s and 60s and learned to make my own decisions about how I choose to live my life. I don't care what anyone thinks about my smoking habit. I'll stay in compliance with the local laws and ordinances, but that's it. If smoke bothers you, then don't come into my yard to BS and then start waving away the smoke like it's a chemical weapon. I'll use the exhaust fan in the kitchen if you come to visit, but that's as good as it's going to get. I don't smoke in my vehicle unless the window is down, so if it's a cold day you better wear a coat if you're riding with me.

You can take your anti-smoking rants and the rest of your PC crap and save it for someone else. I don't play well with others and don't give a damn what they think.

Jun 5, 2013 3:27AM
I wonder how all of you anti-smoking people in Seattle feel about pot?  You must all be a bunch of hypocrites because you are only one for two of our 50 states that were idiotic enough to make it legal!! Also, are all you pot smokers going to have to pay more for your health insurance the same as ciggarette smokers? Smoking pot is just as bad for your health as ciggarettes even worse because when you are done with pot your mind is gone. And by the way, you are still breaking FEDERAL laws by smoking pot, at lest ciggarrettes are fully leglaized.  I would not want to live in your hyprocritical state for anything.
Jun 5, 2013 3:00AM
Of course at the end of the day, smoking is idiotic and completely indefensible.  $9 for a pack of cigarettes in the state of Washington!  Great.  They should charge more.  I have 5 younger brothers and sisters who decided to smoke when they were 19 to 22 approximately.  Thankfully they have quit.  (I think).  One had a scare in college when he decided to become a cigar smoker (unknown to our parents) and had to be hospitalized with a non working vocal chord.  The cause?  Those cigars, of course.  That fact is that NOBODY can give you an INTELLIGENT reason why they smoke.  It's foolish, unattractive, it stinks, it's very expensive, it results in unhealthy bodies, it's a turn off for non smokers (co-workers, family, friends, etc), it's disgusting dating someone who smokes - you might as well just lick an ashtray, and theoretically nobody would do that, your teeth stain, your fingers stain, you stink, and you're wasting money.  Who would do that if they thought about it first?  Nobody.  That's who.  The worst part (from the perspective of the manufacturers)?  Lacing the cigarettes with nicotine which makes them MUCH MORE addictive.  If cigarette manufacturers were honest, which THEY ARE NOT, they would NEVER lace their product with nicotine.  The fact that the US Government allows the practice of lacing cigarettes with nicotine is criminal.  EVERY CIGARETTE COMPANY THAT ADDS NICOTINE TO THEIR CIGARETTES SHOULD BE SUED IN CIVIL COURT.  
Jun 5, 2013 2:49AM
I lost a dear Aunt who was a lifelong smoker.  I suppose she tried to quit, but could not.  She spoke to her doctor, who informed her that some people are smokers.  She smoked until her last day.  Smoker or Non, she was an awesome Aunt.  I miss her.
Jun 5, 2013 1:58AM
You're wrong and your mom's wrong. There can be a LOT more damage done by her continuing to smoke. I see the pulmonology reports every day.
Jun 5, 2013 1:42AM
I don't really care if someone wants to smoke 20 packs a day.  I just don't want to smell it or smell like it after some a-hole has been rudely smoking next to me.  It smells awful and when the stink sinks into your clothes and hair, you have to change and shower.  If any smokers have a problem with this, then I would challenge them to allow me to spray twenty or thirty puffs of my least favorite perfume in their face every two hours and see how much they'd appreciate it.  

Smoke if you like, but keep it in your own space and on your own time.

Jun 5, 2013 1:41AM
Wow, people actually hide their smoking from their family and people in their neighborhoods?  Glad I don't live in Seattle.  But here on the east coast it is starting to move toward that mind set.  People say the rudest things to you when you are smoking outside.  Really?  We're outside for crying out loud.  It's not like you're trapped in an elevator with me and I'm just puffing away!

One poster had it right on.  It's not the smoke, it's just that some people get a rush telling others how they should live.  Sad.  Maybe they should get a life!

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