Family First

A story they say, has a beginning, middle and an end.  In order to tell my story, I need to start at the beginning, and that is 18 years ago….

18 years ago, my then husband walked out and left not only me, but our 4 children as well.  At that time, I was working in upper management, making pretty decent money.  I continued working after our divorce until one day when I got a call from daycare.  My youngest daughter was sick and I had to go pick her up.  I promptly informed my boss of this and was told, and yes I quote, “If you leave now to go pick her up, you will lose your job”. I can’t even begin to say how upset I was at this.  If they felt my job was more important than my children? Well then I surely didn’t need to manage this ‘family ran’ business.  I packed up my personal belongings, told them how I felt about their ‘family ran’ business and left…for good.


It’s funny how what life throws at you really gives you a wakeup call as to how you have things in your life prioritized. As I sat home with my youngest (whom was almost 3 at the time), watching her labored breathing due to what turned out to be pneumonia, I reevaluated my life.  Holding her, and crying my eyes out, I right then and there made a decision to never have to have to make this kind of decision again…NEVER.  I thought a few days as to just what it is I can do, where I can be home with my children when they are home, be off when they are, which would include holidays and summers.  A job where family DOES matter and DOES come first.  As I was sending my three older children off to school, it hit me…like a ton of bricks.  Find something within the education system! It was that simple! So off to school I went!  A drastic career change? Ohhhh yes indeed it was!  I took a HUGE cut in pay, and I do mean HUGE!  I went from being able to not think twice about something so learning real fast the difference between a want and a need.  It was at that time as well that I gave up dating.  For 8 years I did not date.  My children needed a full time mom.  THEY came first, THEY were and still are number one in my life.  After eight years my children sat ME down and said.  “Mom, you have been alone long enough.  We know you love us, but we all think you need a grown up in your life. Someone to take care of you too”   THEY gave ME permission to date.  THEY were letting the apron strings a little looser on Mom!


Now let’s fast forward a bit.  Twelve years ago I lost my house.  The bank would not refinance for me due to my income, or lack thereof.  I did eventually meet a man.  He has a huge heart and at that time took not only me, but accepted my four children into HIS house, his life and his heart.  We are still together to this day. =)


Now to today’s time.  I don’t want to drag this out too long.  I am a VERY proud woman.  I do NOT like asking for help of ANY kind.  I might want to add here, that during these times, no matter how little money I did have. I always managed to find enough money for those packs of cigarettes.  Funny now how I look back, I can’t help but wonder HOW did I ever manage to find the money to smoke?! Yet…I did, two packs a day.  My three girls have since moved out and on with their lives.  My oldest has an emotional mental disorder.  My son is autistic.  So you see, to me, why it was so important that I be home when my children were.  Two are disabled.  My son still lives with me and probably will for the rest of his life.  Which is ok, he’s an awesome young man! Yet still during these times, I smoked.  I rationalized it by convincing myself that seeing as how I rolled my own, it was cheaper and I can afford it…so its ok.  Now, I know how far from the truth that statement is.  Despite the fact I don’t have any sort of health insurance.  Despite the fact I have asthma, despite the fact I have COPD, despite the fact I have a thyroid condition…I rationalized my smoking but convincing myself it was cheap and I can afford to and because “I” want to.  What a joke and how foolish I was!


This past July I became a grandma for the first time, and again in December.  I was there for the birth of both my granddaughters.  One lives 7 hours away and the other 4 hours away.  I’ve only seen them twice since their births.  I talk to my children every day, but I will miss out on seeing my grandbabies grow up.   But that’s ok, my children have and are becoming wonderful, caring parents. I am so proud of them all!


In March of 2011, I did some serious soul searching and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Why exactly was it that I was smoking again? What reason? The cost?  The enjoyment? The stinky smell? The medication that I can’t afford because I don’t have insurance? Did I really enjoy walking around out of breath?!  Did I really like the idea of having to roll a couple packs of smokes a day before I went anywhere or did anything? Did I REALLY enjoy smoking? And at what cost?!  Looking at the pictures my daughters sent me of my granddaughters was the final straw.  I had flash backs to the day they were born.  I saw them before their mothers did! I broke down crying.  I knew if I continued the path I was taking, I would never be around to see my grandbabies grow up, nor be there for any future grandbabies.


I dug out my 510 I bought 2 years ago, took a deep breath, looked at my grandbabies pictures and said to them both…This is for you and this is for me! I screwed on the atty to the battery and held my breath.  After two years I doubted it would be good anymore…IT WORKED!! After two years it was still going strong!  I was thrilled!  I managed to scrape enough together to order some juice.  It is now closing in on June, which will not only mark the three month period of my being cigarette free, but also my 46th birthday!  I’ve had some issues with some of the attys I have. Working half the time, limping along, but they are doing their job, even if perhaps at half speed.


I have not had to use any of my inhalers since April.   I can take deep breaths, I feel WONDERFUL!  You see, I don’t have insurance, nor does my job include any kind of benefits.  My job with the school is considered seasonal, so during the summers when I’m off, I have no pay other then what I have put aside during the school year to carry me through the summer. I only am able to get one of my medications, the most important one.  And to think, I thought I was able to afford smoking?! What a joke!  Can I work? Yes I can..but then who will care for my 22 yr old disabled son? The man I live with is also disabled.  So you see, it’s not only by MY choice I am in the field of employment I am in, but I HAVE to be.  I made this choice freely, yes, and I have accepted this life’s challenge and have made the best of it.


If chosen to be the winner of this contest, I can honestly say it will be a heavy burden lifted off my shoulders.  I have a few juices, yes, a few DIY..Anything I can do in order to save some money.  Things this summer will be tighter then I have ever experienced in my life.  It would be nice to know that there is one thing I will not have to worry about for a long time.  The ‘now I need’  the ‘where am I going to get the money for’  the ‘how can I order this and what bill can I stretch out so I can make it’   It would be a wonderful feeling to look at my supply box and know that is one less worry I have to think about this coming year!


Well now you know the beginning of my story, the middle of it.  How it will end has yet to be written.  Only time is the author of the ending.  Thank you for this wonderful contest and the opportunity to partake in it.  Stay healthy, stay clean and keep vaping! =)



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