Stop. In the name of love.

Way back in September last year I was steeling myself for what would inevitably be a hard task. Christmas shopping for small person. Moo never asks for much, but sometimes she asks for things that have been quite hard, much more so than you would imagine, to obtain.

A Beast doll ( from beauty and the beast) which turned out to be highly collectable,( for highly collectable – read expensive) , but with a lot of searching and some wonderful international cooperation Moo lucked out with a Beauty and a Beast in a box set without breaking the bank of dad.

Then came the saga of 4 arms. For those of you who are not versed in the lore of the cartoon ‘Ben 10’, 4 arms is one of the characters from the programme – (big red dude, 4 arms). Well this should be easy we though. But wouldn’t you know it – he’s a really rare toy,( for really rare – read expensive), but once again a bit of digging around on international eBay saw the big guy unwrapped on Christmas morning.

So this time round I was slightly dreading, but totally up for what she would throw at us. Or so I thought.

When I threw ‘the present question’ at her she told me she needed time to think about how to ask for what she wanted. To say I was intrigued was putting it mildly, but what came next was not at all what I was expecting, nor was I certain I could deliver.

” I’m not sure if I’m allowed to ask for this, and it’s not even really a thing, but I know what I would like for Christmas….. What I’d really like is for you and daddy not to smoke anymore”

Smoking and I go back a long way. More than 2/3rds of my life. I started young and kept on going. At some school break times you would find me in the corner of the field – the traditional hangout for the younger smokers- you didn’t get to claim your spot in the bike sheds till 5 th year, by which point I was most definitely what you would categorize as ‘a smoker’.

I almost got kicked out of 6th form because of smoking ( long story short – we were outside of the designated area and were made an example of), but instead of making me want to stop it just made me determined to carry on.

BTEC college did nothing to lessen the attraction. ‘The goldfish bowl’ ( the space between a set of double exit doors that doubled as our smoking room ), was where it was at. Even the non smokers used to come and hang out in there and shoot the breeze. In actual fact if it wasn’t for one of our non-smoking friends, Don who was our unofficial ‘keeper of the flame’, most of us would have had to give up based on the fact that lighters had, and still to this day retain, the ability to dissolve when placed in ones pocket.

It was at drama school a couple of years later that 2 fundamental truths of smoking dawned on me which made giving up nothing more than, if you will excuse the pun, a pipe dream.
1- Rolling tobacco is far far cheaper than cartons.
2- Smokers get more, and longer breaks than non-smokers, especially if your tutor/boss is also a smoker.

Point 2 is particularly unfair, but so true. Imagine a non-smoker demanding a break just because they needed to have 10 minutes of fresh air in order to carry on/not be a total grump for the rest of the day. Wouldn’t happen. But if you NEED a smoke… 9 times out of 10 you will get your break.

Over the years I have made a few half hearted new years resolutions to give up ‘at some point this year’ but needless to say my addiction was way more powerful than my resolve.

There was one thing that did stop my smoking dead in it’s tracks though, the day I found out I was pregnant. It was like a switch had been turned in my brain and almost instantly just thought of a cigarette turned my stomach, and quite frankly in those first few months any additional stomach turning would have been most unwelcome.

All was well for about 18 months but a combination of circumstance and weak will led me back to the smokes. There are many excuses I could make but they would be just that so I’m not going down that road, I was caught at a time of weakness and if I’m being totally honest taking up smoking again did actually help in many ways and I figured I could always give up again when I wanted to and when the time was right.

But I have never really wanted to, and the time has never been right. Until now.

When Moo dropped the Christmas present bomb I fudged it and told her that it wasn’t really a thing she could ask for as a present, but we would talk about it and see ….. but in the meantime, wouldn’t she like a new barbie instead ?

It has to be said that the new barbie went down exceptionally well, but not as well as the promise that after Christmas and the big family holiday to Florida that we were both going to try our best to stop smoking.

We each thought about our preferred strategies and I decided that both of us going cold turkey wasn’t going to work and probably wouldn’t be very fair on Moo, and the method that worked for me last time round was a little….extreme, so I took the ‘cut down and hang out the bathroom window for a smoke’ route while hubs went for the ‘nicotine inhaler and computer game’ detox.

There have been a few tense moments in the last week or so but when hubby was going through the difficult first week I got down to 2 a day, and hubby has now been smoke free for 9 days and I, with the occasional assistance of my nicotine inhaler and copious amounts of popcorn, am just finishing up day 4.

This is without question one of the most difficult things I have ever done and without the support of my lovely hubby and wonderful daughter ( who has been mindful and considerate of her grumpy parents) and the kind words of a couple of dear friends I wouldn’t have made it through day one, never mind day 4. I am told that tomorrow it will begin to get easier for which I am truly grateful, but I will continue to need support and encouragement for a long time to come so if any of you feel like becoming comment box cheerleaders it will be most appreciated.

Getting to the end of each day without a cigarette is an achievement and whilst it’s still early days I think we both deserve a hearty well done for attempting to for knocking 25 years of habit and addiction into touch.

Hopefully next Christmas’ wishes will be less stressful to fulfill …..

A bientot.