The Undercover Smoker
If given the chance, I will talk anyone’s ear off about my favorite natural beauty finds. I moisturize with coconut oil, swear by Soapwalla deodorant cream and smear Manuka honey on my face once a week. I cut artificial sweeteners out of my life over ten years ago and make my own anti-bacterial home spray with essential oils. And when I got pregnant with my first child, I read every label and diligently swapped out the majority of my products with natural alternatives. Second pregnancy, I ate a few ham sandwiches – but that’s not the point. The point is, I believe that the best version of myself, my family and my home is free of chemicals, additives and things that make you go “ewww”. I aspire to clean living!
But the best version of myself sometimes has to make way for the dirty little party monster that will not be put in the corner. I’m also an undercover smoker.
I smoked regularly before I had my children. A lot of us were smokers – always so cool – gathering on sidewalks and front porches and beach blankets. We could always count on each other for a light, for an extra and for some company. And as recently as 2010, we were all out in the open. So how is it that in only 5 years (apropos, the time between trying for my first child and weaning the second), we are lone wolfs and outcasts – ducking into alleys or standing in pools of street light by ourselves? I mean, I know why. Smoking is terrible for you and most of our friends and neighbors have finally gotten the memo. A lot of us have kids now too, which makes a huge difference.
The simple fact remains, though, that, for someone who loves to smoke, the act of lighting up never becomes anything less than what it once was. Pleasure, nostalgia, comfort, dissent, rapport or maybe even just a moment to yourself. When I occasionally step out to have a cigarette after dinner, my husband and children are not invited. That’s nice.
I could attempt to justify my habit by saying that I don’t smoke daily. I could dress it up in something casual by saying that I usually just buy a pack to share at an occasion, like a party or book group, and will go on hiatus once they’re gone. I could say that my otherwise healthy lifestyle affords me a little room to be rotten. I could quit and should quit for good because I know that everything above is bullshit – but I really don’t want to and I probably won’t. Because I genuinely enjoy perfectly timed cigarettes. Love them, actually.
Most of my friends do know that I smoke as I’ve never really tried to hide it from them. After all, I’m pretty sure that my friends would put “sometimes smokes” pretty low on the list of my defining characteristics. People I am not close to, however, might give my smoking more weight in their opinion of me. This is why I do not smoke at work, smoke in public very rarely and would rather eat a bucket of sand than to be seen smoking by another parent at my daughter’s school. I’d like to think that I fall into the fairly generic, but quite favorable, friendly/fun/responsible category of moms. I don’t think it’s shortsighted to assume that being identified as a smoker could very well throw me into a lower standing. Worst case scenario, I’m suddenly the mom who might be exposing your child to second-hand smoke on a playdate. I would never, of course. Chances are I wouldn’t even have cigarettes in the house.
Maybe you wouldn’t care if you found out that I smoke every now and then. Maybe you’d even secretly want to smoke one with me. Some moms still do, you know. I like going to friend’s houses and sneaking cigarettes together in unused garages and blind spots around their property. It makes me feel like I’m in high school. Before I had kids. Before I had a Subaru Outback with a stack of reusable shopping bags in the trunk.
Chances are, though, that you would care and would judge me as being somehow less than. It feels unfair considering my better qualities, but I get it. And that’s why I’m undercover these days – which is a real pisser considering how many moments would still be better with a cigarette between my fingers.