About ‘Confessions Of A Pothead Mom’

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So I wrote this a few days ago, practically stream of consciousness, and decided to send it into the Huffington Post editors. For the first 24 hours, nothing happened and I spent a long time contemplating taking it down. Am I really going to publish this on the most widely read internet news source in the world? Am I OK with the word “Pothead” coming up every time someone googles my name? Does HuffPost even have the nerve to publish it?

My husband, Phill, talked me out of removing it, even though his family will probably have the strongest reaction. He said to stick to my motto, “Be Bold, Be Brave” and that one day our daughter would appreciate me for it. So I left it up.

The next day, much to my absolute surprise, I got a personal e-mail from one of the top editors at HuffPost saying how much she loved the piece and wanted to feature it. Wow! Humbled and a little nauseous.

She asked if I had a personal photo I could send them, or would I rather they use a stock pic. I thought about it for a few minutes and decided that using my name was “out” enough for me, for now, and that an image of me smoking pot, right next to the one of me being arrested in China, would greatly diminish the message of our Tibetan Freedom protests in 2007. Something I’m very proud of.  Whereas this blog is about something I do to cope with life’s stresses, rather than something I feel truly powerful about.

I suggested they use something not so obvious, like a breakfast table or a domestic scene, but they went with an image of a woman smoking pot, taken from the nose down. Some of the comments online were about how they liked the blog content, but found the image “inappropriate” or “seedy”; which was interesting, given the topic of breaking down stigmas. Why is she seedy with a joint in her mouth? Why does seeing it  make it suddenly “inappropriate”? I’m glad they used the picture they did.

I’ve refrained from responding to comments online so far, instead enjoying the debate unfold outside of me. But this morning, I had e-mails for interviews from HuffPost Live and ABC news, so I suppose I’ll have to join the conversation further. It’s a good thing I’ve had some media training in my years of activism, let’s hope I come across as intelligent and upstanding, rather than fulfilling all the stereotypes associated with the word “pothead”.

If you want to tune in, I’ll be on HuffPost Live on Friday March 21st at 10:30am EST.

And here, again, is the link to the blog, which went viral yesterday: Confessions Of A Pot Head Mom

Truthfully,

Kiri Westby

About KiriWestby

Kiri Westby is an international women's human rights activist, a blogger and an author. She has worked actively to advance the rights of women and girls in areas of armed conflict since 2000, and spent time in Chinese prison for her activism in 2007. Kiri is also an avid traveler, a devoted partner and a mother.

24 responses »

  1. I feel sorry for any bad repercussions your article brings you. As a fellow SAHM and pothead (and Coloradan) I feel as though I live a double life even in a state where it’s legal. I used to own a very successful preschool before I closed doors to raise my own family. If any of my clients knew I had a medical license they probably would have ran the other direction. I had one mom liken pot to heroin as she told me a story from her own “professional” experiences. I also hid pot use from family for many made it known pot=bad. When I became pregnant with my second child I developed a rare life threatening condition that left me vomiting up to 40 times a day. The doctors threw so many prescriptions at me, that didn’t work, and the baby’s health became a concern to me. I ditched the scripts and picked up the pipe. My family saw first hand the benefits of marijuana (it got hard to care to hide it). I survived almost a full 9 months and gave birth to a HEALTHY baby. That would not have happened with out the pot and I want to shout from the roof tops but don’t feel liberated to do so. My husband’s family would disown me. I fear it would harm my future career. We need more brave peeps such as yourself to break through the ignorant stereotypes. Until then I hide with my pot in my closet. Which is hard for me. I am an over sharer.

  2. Hi Kiri! You have fans in far-flung places! Where I live in the south, marijuana is still (regrettably) illegal. Since I work with children, I don’t always feel free to express my opinions publicly. I have a story that might interest you, however, which I’d love to share if there is a way to message you directly here on your website. Much gratitude for your willingness to be honest with the world, despite the risks! Keep writing – your narratives are so valuable to our rapidly-changing literary environment.

    • Thanks Emalee!
      It’s been quite a roller coaster! Amazing to see who in your life supports you and who will drop you just for admitting that you smoke pot…no matter how occasional or responsibly. I understand your hesitance to support me publicly and applaud your willingness to go out of your way to send me a note. I’ll take all the support I can get!
      And I’m super interested in your story! Email me: kiri.westby@gmail.com
      Thanks again and have a great day!
      Warmly,
      Kiri

  3. Amen sister! I live in Colorado and my fellow mom friends and I love this article. Instead of a glass of wine many of us opt for the legal Colorado kind after the kids are down for the night. The guilt is too much so thanks for calling it out!

    • Hi, not sure how to comment…hope I did it right….Kiri – Thank you for your bravery in writing this. I am an educator and deal with this issue in our middle school. We have students whose families have taught them pot is something ver very bad; we have young students experimenting with and trying to be cool; and I have many students who are confused. They love their parents but are not sure if they are moral because they use pot.

      I lead conversations with students struggling with questions of pot. I remind them that it is simply not legal when a person is under 21. We also talk about parents being able to drive, to buy a house, to drink beer and to have sex……but it’s not the best idea for middle school students do these things.

      I am not here to judge their parents or to tell these students it’s ok for parents to use pot or that it is immoral.

      Times and laws are changing and we must find the best way to support each other as well as our children. And as a fellow parent I can say I support you in making the right choices for yourself and have to trust that just like getting drunk or having sex….you won’t get stoned off your gourd in front of your children. But your the mom….society has to trust you’ll make the best decisions for your family just like it does with many other things. You’ve got my support, if it matters. : )

      • Thanks Kristi,

        It does matter to me! I’ve already lost some friends and family over this, so I will take all the support I can get…especially from educators and other moms! For what it’s worth, I don’t get drunk or stoned in front of my kid. My husband and I don’t fight in front of her either, not that we fight a lot, but when we have a disagreement, we save it for later when her little mind doesn’t have to come to terms with such adult complexities (she’s 3). She is, and always will be, my priority in life. When the time comes, I hope she can feel safe, loved and supported to talk to me (or her dad) about substances at school and social functions and we can support her to make smart, well-informed choices…to me, that is parenting.

        Did you see this YouTube video, made by a teen about my blog? Check it out, your kids might find it relatable: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eYHALS9OoZk

        Thanks again for your support and for being there for our kids as they grapple with the choices presented to them!

        Kiri

    • Thanks Brigid! There is so much guilt and judgement around marijuana use! That’s why I use the word pothead in my blog, cause for many folks, anyone who smokes weed is a pothead (no matter how seldom or responsibly). I knew there were other moms out there who felt like I do and I’m really grateful you took the time to tell me so!
      If we keep up the good, open, honest parenting and our kids are going to be just fine!
      Warmly,
      Kiri

  4. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I could have written this article.I hope someday that I can. Let the haters hate. They don’t understand. I appreciate you. Thank goodness for you.

    • I actual have referred to this message a few times of the past few days, as the shit was hitting the fan in my personal life for doing something so bold and new.
      So, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for taking the time to comment and show your support!
      Keep being vocal,
      Kiri

  5. Good afternoon, Kiri i.e. Toker article… My friends laugh @ my honesty of tell’g people i indulge.
    well said, well written, a great read & damn funny. I would like to throw a lill’
    encouragement as in, A POT HEAD imho, is not a 3/4 times a wk smoker,,,NO ! you guys out there
    may call them stoners, or the pot heads, you and yours even at once a day R indulgers.
    R you up for a suprise? should your friends, other moms, family members etc.etc.
    be as truthful as U, your go’g to gain a whole lot of new friends. So watch and hope for
    us here in the south, as we in FL. are look’g fwrd 2 Nov. ballots to see where we may go on the
    medical/legal home front of where you guys now stand and enjoy……
    Again thanx for the great insight, and good chuckles

    ” What ? theres no telling, here hold my wine stand back and watch “

    • Hi Scott,
      Thanks for the support and funny note! It’s true that for people who already smoke pot, I’m not a pothead. But for those who liken pot to crack, I am. Which is why I used the word. I’ll be thinking of y’all down South this November and meanwhile, we’ll keep blazing a trail for you to follow (pun very-much intended!).
      Be well,
      Kiri

  6. I am at stay at home mom who wishes I lived in a state that made it okay for me to be honest about the choice of stress and pain relief also. I’m interested in the response you have received from family, friends and other moms. Can you update us?

    • Hi Joni,
      Thanks for writing and for sharing. I don’t think we talk about pain enough in this country and I know lots of folks who prefer marijuana to prescription painkillers for long term pain management. So thanks for bringing it up. The response has been crazy! Some good, some shocking! I’m working on a follow up blog on what happens after you come out of the pot closet! I’m filming With ABC’s 20/20 next week, an hour-long special on all the implications of legalization, and will publish my piece shortly after that experience.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      Warmly,
      Kiri

  7. I have never heard someone out this so bluntly, I myself am a full time working professional, mom of one, and I’m a pothead. I don’t drink alcohol but the green is my weakness. I commend you 100% on your bold act.

    • Thanks Kelseyjanna,
      It’s so helpful for me to know others are out there…parenting first, work second and then relax. This is how us highly functioning, working, pothead moms do it and we shouldn’t be ashamed!
      Grateful,
      Kiri

  8. I was happy to read the article as I laid in bed last night. I live in Canada, where pot is NOT legal, however we have a much more laid back approach to it. I admire your courage in writing this article and immediately followed your blog! I am a pothead mom too, and though it’s no secret to most people, I’m not sure I could write about it and share it with the world. I know my children are very well cared for, but I’m always scared that someone will call children’s services at the thought of a pothead mum.

    Kudos!

    • Hi Ladybird Magpie! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and follow my blog. I will follow you back! I did a radio show out of Vancouver this past weekend and it was fascinating. One caller actually compared me to a crack head and said she felt sorry for my kids! So I get why it’s not easy to come out of the pot closet, even to friends and family, much less the whole world!

      Sounds like you’re a great mom to me and I applaud your daily work to keep your kids very well cared for…it’s the hardest job in the world and all of us moms need to relax sometimes!

      Someday this will discussion will seem silly, but for now, it’s still taboo and I really appreciate all of the support!
      In solidarity,
      Kiri

  9. Wow. This is funny and well-written. I love the double entendres.

    It takes a lot of inner strength to come clean with your skeletons. I wonder how many of us could admit our own demons in such a public forum for the world to judge? I know I couldn’t. Thanks, Kiri for taking such a bold step.

    • Hi Jen!
      Thanks for complimenting my writing! It’s been a crazy week! You really find out who your friends are when you come out of any closet. I think of all my gay friends, losing family and community to be honest about who they are, and it pales in comparison. Thanks for your unwavering support all these years, it really does mean the world to me!
      Love you Cuz!
      Kiri

  10. Kiri – thank you so much for your courage and honesty in addressing this very sensitive topic. I myself am a father of three, in grad school, and I have to admit that I am a dedicated smoker as well. Actually- vape-er as i’ve switched almost exclusively to concentrate. Also, I am a dedicated, concerned father and former teacher who plans to get into family counseling as a profession, and worry constantly that people in the ‘straight’ side of my life will learn of my choices and judge me for them, despite the glaring and obvious double standards etched into our society. I absolutely love to smoke; it stimulates me, helps me focus, helps me appreciate subtleties, and allows me to loosen the bonds on the ‘boxes’ i build in my mind about how life is and should be approached.

    By all appearances, I am not ‘that guy’. I dress up nice because I work in a university, I am a non-threat because I have three children under 6, and I am by all outward appearances motivated, responsible and mostly pleasant. I am constantly frustrated that people in my own neighborhood can sit (I live in a downtown area) on their porches and drink malt liquor and yell belligerently at police as they drive past, but I have to tuck away into a corner of my apartment to vaporize a dab, with the blinds closed and music turned up (lest someone hear the suspicious sound of a blowtorch).

    I know there are legions of us out there, the quiet potheads parents, calmly, responsibly tending to our children under fear of becoming pariahs in our own communities, yet in our own hearts knowing the healing, restorative powers of the herb, and taking refuge in it as our personal needs dictate.

    I also have a blog dedicated to the glories and furies of fatherhood, which I hope you have time to see. I know you are busier now though 🙂 I have not yet had the courage to broach the subject, though it comes to me often as i sit at the keyboard.

    Best to you in your journey, and I’d love to get our kids together for a playdate if we ever find ourselves in CO!

    ~Derek

    • Hi Derek,
      Thanks for the honest comment and the support. It’s been a crazy week and I’ve lost some friends and family over this. But I’ve also received thank you notes from parents all across the country. There are many of us who are highly functioning, contributing, members of society. Yes we are parents, yes we smoke pot and it’s OK. But for so many people, it’s not OK yet and it’s up to us to change those stereotypes and perceptions!

      Send me a link to your blog, I’d love to check it out. I’m working on a follow up blog about what happens when you come out of the pot closet and will post it in a few weeks, after I film with 20/20…if I thought writing a blog about smoking pot was coming out, wait until I’m on national TV! Oh well, let the haters hate! It’s time to have this conversation, as evidenced by the popularity of my blog, and so let’s have it in a major way! I think that’s something my daughter will be proud of someday!

      I truly appreciate the support and would love a play date if you’re in the area! (And three under six! You deserve whatever relaxation you can find friend!)

      Be well,
      Kiri

      • A little late to the game, but as an attorney for a large law firm who smokes regularly and is a new mom, I really appreciated this article.

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