Children bring so much joy to their parents' lives. When it comes to mother and child there is no bond that is deeper. From conception, to birth, to raising baby until adulthood, there is so much love and sharing that goes on. However, the commitment to care for a child also comes with a lot of stress. Add that stress to career and social demands, as well as family expectations and it is no wonder that mom is sometimes a bundle of nerves.
There are those who seem to breeze through life without letting the day-to-day challenges overtake them and then there are those who find it very difficult to cope – people like Jillian Leonard. When the mother of three is stressed out she turns to a special "herb".
Marijuana’s popularity in America is now at an all-time high (no pun intended). Over the last few years, the leafy drug has become legal for recreational use in four states and another 23 states have passed laws legalizing it for medical treatment. Meanwhile in Canada, the Liberal government is moving towards legalization.
In Jillian Leonard’s case, the use of the weed started out as an occasional, social exercise back in college, but became a regular habit once her kids were born. Today, she admits she became a “pothead”. So what is it like being a mother and smoking-up so much?
“I don’t want to give you the impression that I am a bad mother. I will admit though that I have done some things because of my habit that I am not proud of,” Jillian Leonard told Babygaga.
Here are Leonard’s confessions when it comes to indulging in “herb”.
Jillian Leonard loves her two boys and her daughter. Like most mothers she tries to set aside money for the occasional treat for them. It could mean renting a movie and buying their favourite treats on a Friday night, or treating them to a weekend outing, like glow-in-the-dark mini putt. Sometimes it can be a stretch with all the other household bills, but she always seems to set aside a little bit for the kids. When her daughter (third child) was born she decided to go from full-time to part-time hours at work, making the budget just a little bit tighter. Weed costs money and there have been times when Jillian has dipped into the kids treat money to well, treat herself to some “herb”. Her short-changing her kids is never without guilt, which is of course a form of stress. This stress just makes Jillian want to smoke even more. She knows it’s a vicious cycle, but she can’t seem to stop herself when she feels desperate for a little extra cash to support her habit.
When Leonard was a young girl she was a model student. She was expected to get good grades, treat her teachers and classmates with respect and participate in extra-curricular activities. When her two oldest children went to school she expected them to perform as well. To this end, Leonard has always been an active parent when it comes to her kids’ education. She helps with homework, contributes to school fundraisers and has even sat on some parent committees. The idea of missing a parent-teacher interview would be out of the question, but one time she was faced with this possibility. Her husband was out of town on business, she was feeling a little high and running behind schedule. What did she do? She went to the meeting, smelling like a mix of the pungent “herb” and Calvin Klein’s “Obsession”. Leonard thought a few extra sprays of her favourite perfume would be enough to mask what she had done. “I turned heads from the moment I walked into that school. The worst part is, that I am sure that the teachers never thought of me the same way after that,” Jillian Leonard explained shamefully.
Christmas can be a joyful time of the year, but it can also be stressful due to the rushing around and social demands that can come with the holiday. Jillian Leonard admitted she is one of those people who have a love/hate relationship with holidays. In fact, she told us she does smoke more around Christmas, Easter, and family birthdays. When her first born was in grade 2 he participated in the school Christmas pageant. “He was so excited and it was important for him to have both his parents there,” Leonard said. Well, on the night of the big show, the Leonard’s were right there in the second row. As it turns out, their son’s appearance was near the latter part of the play. An anxious Jillian could not sit still and decided to slip out. She indicated to her husband that she was making a quick washroom visit, when in fact she was going outside to find a place where she could smoke some “herb”. Finding a safe, secluded spot was easier said than done, so she was gone much longer than she planned. Upon returning, her husband turned to her and said, “He looked right at me. He knows you weren’t here.” She had missed her son’s performance.
Not once, but twice the mother of three became so careless with her stash that the children found it. In both cases, they discovered baggies in the kitchen. “I suspect I was just doing too many things at once when I left the stuff in the kitchen. One time, I put it in the cupboard with the kids’ cereal. My son pulled it out and dumped it on the counter and then made some comment about spices. I immediately told him that they were indeed spices and that I must have put them in the wrong cupboard,” Jillian explained. The second time it happened, it was her younger son who made the discovery so she just took the bag from him and gave no explanation; however, her husband was furious and demanded that she find a way to curb her habit. At one point he suggested he hold onto her supply and dispense it to her when she felt she needed it, but Jillian would have no part of that plan.
Psychologists report that when a person has a craving or feels they need to use a substance to deal with their stress, they will do almost anything to get what they want, including lie. Jillian Leonard has confessed that she has lied a lot to her kids when it comes to feeding her habit. For a number of years she tried growing her own plants so she could lower the cost of smoking up. While she didn’t have much of a “green thumb”, she figured “how hard could it be to grow weed?” It turned out to be harder than she thought and she had to lie about it. She planted in a plot just outside her kitchen window. It was also a place where her young daughter had planted flowers for a school project. The soil was already cultivated thanks to some help from a neighbour who was good at gardening. The problem was that Jillian’s daughter did notice some tiny little plants and said something to her mother. At first she thought about saying they were “wild weeds” but then realized that she might pull them out. “I was also concerned that if they did actually grow, I would have to provide some sort of explanation so I told her that I planted some ferns and didn’t think she would mind sharing the space.” Her daughter was upset by the invasion so it led to an argument and the plants didn’t grow properly anyway. Jillian Leonard was left with the guilt of lying and nothing to harvest.
Jillian Leonard has always seen herself as a hard worker; someone who is dedicated to her job and her family, but as she became more stressed over the years with juggling work and the kid’s schedules, she began to turn to marijuana more as a form of relaxation. Although she admits it is “not the best way” to cope with anxiety, it became habitual. She has confessed that there has been times when she has been so stressed in the mornings that she has slipped outside, hid behind the backyard shed and smoked more than one herbal cigarette. “There have been times; a few times, when I was too high to go to work. I didn’t know what to do so I called work and told my supervisor that my kids were home sick and I had to take care of them.” Leonard told Babygaga that her guilt over this usually pushes her to stay late at work subsequent days to make up for her horrible behaviour. She said she also finds herself offering to help co-workers with their workload to pay penance.
The mother of three contends that she isn’t really an “addict” and that she can go weeks without smoking. “It’s when I get stressed out that I just can’t control it,” she confessed. While she has admitted she has lost track of the lies she has told to cover her habit, she does know how many times she faked being ill to cover up the fact that she was just a little too out of it to participate in life. Over the last five years she said she has had a headache at least four times, the flu three times, two cases of possible food poisoning and one horrendous toothache that just suddenly went away the next day. While her husband was wise to her fake sickness in every single case, the kids were not. “These illnesses usually occurred when they were either at school, with friends or when my husband was around. I would never partake to that degree if I was taking care of my kids,” Leonard insisted.
Morning highs are Jillian Leonard’s biggest issue, but on occasion she confessed that she comes home from work feeling frazzled. When her husband travels a lot she feels the stress of work and raising the kids on her own. It’s not just running them to and from school, but the extra activities, the homework and of course juggling her job, along with demands from her parents and siblings that seem to lead to her stress. She told us that on two separate occasions she came home from a stressful day at work and her two boys were fighting, her daughter was crying about something and she just couldn’t cope. She gave them all a time-out and slipped out to the shed in the backyard. One cigarette led to another, which led to another and before you know it, she was too disinterested in operating a stove. As a result, the kids had cereal for dinner. “I can recall one of those times, my oldest kept asking, why are we having breakfast for dinner? I mean - he was really pushing it. Finally, I just told him because it is National Eat Breakfast for Dinner Day,” Leonard laughed. Apparently her son shook his head and started eating his bowl of Cheerio’s.
Jillian Leonard’s oldest son plays hockey and Jillian has always felt it was important to be front and centre for his games. Jillian and her husband have said that when playoff time rolls around it is particularly important that their son have his family at the rink to cheer him on. Mr. Leonard usually plans his work schedule around the hockey playoffs. One year, stressed out about a sick relative, Jillian Leonard was having difficulty sitting still in the stands as her son and his teammates took on their opponents in a crucial playoff match. In a third period nail-biter, with the game tied 2-2, without a word to her husband or other children, Jillian got up, walked out of the rink and quickly smoked some “herb” at the back of the building. She was only gone about 10 minutes, but she missed the game-winning goal. Her son’s team won to advance to the next playoff round. She later told her young son that he didn’t see her when he looked up in the stands simply because she moved to another location in the rink. The mother tells us that her son got an assist on that winning goal.
Today electronics are a common gift for kids. From talking dolls and interactive dinosaurs to video gaming, and kids smart watches, this is what young people want. Like most parents, Jillian Leonard likes to make her kids' birthdays’ special. This includes, cake, parties and of course gifts. One year, she bought an electronic gift for one of her children, but before his actual birthday she swapped it for weed. “I was a little low on cash and needed to replenish my supply. Electronics are worth a fair amount so I was able to do an exchange. The problem was that I had to find something of equal fascination to replace this gift, but it had to be inexpensive,” Jillian sheepishly confessed. While she did give her son a great birthday, she felt so bad about swapping the electronic present that she spent the next few months saving up so she could go out and buy the same electronic device again and give it to him for Christmas.
Jillian Leonard isn’t proud of the fact that she has lied to her kids to cover up her smoking, but she justifies it by telling herself that a lot of parents tell “little white lies” to protect their kids. When it comes to her husband though, she has a very hard time with the fact that she has lied to him about the “herb”. Once when he got upset about her smelling like weed, she told him she had not partaken all week, which was a lie and there was another time when he begged her to quit so she agreed. She lasted about 4 weeks and then slipped back into her habit of smoking when a stressful situation occurred. Still, she continued to let him believe that she was on the straight and narrow. He eventually discovered that she was not telling the truth. ”It was actually a relief when he found out because I felt so guilty for hiding it from him,” she explained.
Communications experts say it is best to watch TV with your children and Jillian and her husband know this. They believe television programming is a great way for children to learn, but agree that parents should be by their kid’s side to make sure they are having a positive learning experience. Leaving young children alone to change the channel can be a bad idea because developing minds need some form of control. While Jillian Leonard keeps this in her mind for the most part, she confessed that there have been times when she has broken her own parenting rules and she ran outside to have a quick smoke.
Usually it is in the morning when her husband has already left for work or after school before he gets home. “I tell the kids I am taking the garbage out or running something over to the neighbours, but really I am slipping behind the shed for one or two puffs,” she admitted. Although she is never gone for more than a few minutes, Jillian said she knows it’s reckless and she runs straight towards the TV when she gets back into the house, just to make sure her kids are watching appropriate programming.
Having a habit such as Jillian’s can make a person desperate. In her particular case, she felt desperate to find a place to keep her stash. Her husband made it clear to her that he didn’t want it kept anywhere in their bedroom. “It was his way of making it known that he didn’t approve of me smoking,” she said. Since the mother of three didn’t want her kids to find the “herb” in the house, she was stumped when it came to finding a good storage spot. At one point she came up with a poorly thought out idea.
When cleaning up her daughter’s room one day she went to throw out an old stuffed toy and just as she was about to drop it into a large garbage bag with a bunch of other debris, it hit her – she could remove some of the stuffing and hide her baggie of weed inside the toy. After going through the process of opening up the stuffed animal and then closing it up again with her baggie inside, she hid the toy behind some tools in the garage. “It worked out great until one day my husband was in the garage looking for something and came across the toy. My daughter was standing in the garage beside him. Thankfully, I was standing just outside the garage so I was able to leap into action, grab it, and remove my goods without my daughter knowing. It was a close call though,” Jillian recounted.
Jillian Leonard worked hard to hide her smoking habit from her family, friends and co-workers for years, but one thing people have always known about her is that she is a fanatic when it comes to organizing. Her desk at work, her kitchen, her laundry room, and the kid’s rooms look as if a professional organizer has arranged them. When something is out of place, Jillian is not far behind to remedy that so when her daughter’s underwear drawer ended up full of her son's underwear and her son’s underwear drawer was filled with her daughter’s undies, her husband thought this was odd. Mr. Leonard became suspicious when he mentioned it to Jillian and she didn’t seem the least bit confused by it. “At first I thought about blaming the kids, but I came clean. I knew that I was stoned when I was sorting the laundry so I probably just got things mixed up.” Jillian recalled that in this particularly case her husband found it humorous and didn’t seem to get upset with her.
While most recreational users partake on weekends and holidays, Jillian Leonard has always been a weekday smoker. Still, she admitted to us that there have been a few times when she indulged on a weekend or should we say overindulged. One year she missed her parent’s anniversary celebration because she was too high. There was also a wedding that she wasn’t able to attend because she felt too dizzy after smoking several herbal cigarettes. Missing those important celebrations made her feel really horrible so she quickly learned to avoid smoking on any days that were set aside for celebration. “The thought of disappointing family is just too much. It makes me feel more stressed and the whole reason I reach for my “herb” in the first place is to calm my nerves so it defeats the purpose,” Jillian explained.
Jillian Leonard has said that she is far from being an addict. She still enjoys a puff from time-to-time and jokes about being a “pothead”, but in recent months she started participating in yoga and music therapy to help better cope with stress. She told babygaga she doesn’t think her habit hurts her children. She also said that she finds it ironic that now that she is trying to move on to other past-times, marijuana use is becoming more mainstream. In other words, what once was a subject that mothers never discussed, is now a hot topic since several jurisdictions are considering legalization.