Photo courtesy of Sam Millam

Marijuana Makes Me A Better Mother

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I laid in bed for what felt like the millionth night in a row, unable to fall asleep, my mind never stopping. Each hour I checked the clock… eight hours until the kids wake up. Seven hours. Six. Just fall asleep, I pleaded with myself. As I waded into the four and three-hour countdown, my anxiety increased. For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with insomnia, with a brain that refuses to stop thinking. It is a time in which I take this struggle for granted. A time before I will decide to try medicinal marijuana. A few hours later, just as expected, a little hand pried at my eyelids.

“Wake up, mommy! It’s morning!!”

'Just bite a corner off the first time and see how you feel. It’ll take a couple of hours to feel it,' she told me.

I groaned and tried to roll off the bed to make the little people of the house some breakfast, my body heavy, my mind groggy. I couldn’t continue this way, but what options did I have? Before children I used Ambien for a time. Melatonin. Exercise. Going to bed sooner. Going to bed later. Tossing the alarm clock with the little red lines that I would count each time the number changed. Not reading in bed. No TV in the bedroom. Blackout curtains. Nixed the caffeine intake. I felt helpless and hopeless, resigned to a life of cursing the sleep that evaded me.

“Have you tried marijuana?” A friend asked, a little hesitant. Marijuana use can bring out big reactions in people, and she wasn’t sure what mine would be.

“No, I haven’t. I didn’t know it helped with sleep. I actually don’t really know anything about it at all.” And my venture down the 420 rabbit hole began.

I grew up in a state that is still very anti-weed and I moved to one that has legalized it and treats it like the beautiful medicine that it is. I’ve seen that glowing neon green plus sign in shop windows all over town, but had never wandered inside. I’ve never been a big alcohol drinker, and I always felt that marijuana fell into that same category, although cannabis was likely to leave me feeling less sloshy than drink.

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After much research on the different types of strains, sativa versus indica, and their effects, I was ready to take the plunge. I left my kids with a trusted adult and drove through the night toward a shop that had good reviews. I pulled into the parking lot, feeling a giddiness that I hadn’t felt since I was old enough to legally enter a bar for the first time.

“Here goes nothing,” I texted my friend, attaching a photo of the outside of the shop. The inside was clean and artistically designed. It wasn’t at all like the image I had in my head; sofas everywhere, smoke permeating the air, sticky floors, and an air of unkemptness. My small-minded opinion of the marijuana industry was painted by my experience working as a 911 dispatcher in a deeply conservative state. I wasn’t against it. I was just ignorant towards what it truly was, and could be.

I tentatively approached the counter; there were two men and a woman. I beelined for the woman. Looking at their selection, I realized I hadn’t researched anything at all. What the heck is flower, pre-rolls, and grinders. They had row after row of little jars full of little green buds. What was I supposed to do with them?

“I’m a first-timer. And now that I’m actually in here, I realize I don’t know anything about anything.” I told her. She smiled in an endearing way, rather than patronizing, and explained everything. I told her I didn’t want to get stoned, I just wanted to be able to sleep and feel less anxious while still being alert enough that I could take care of my family in case of a night time emergency.

“You’ll probably want some indica,” she told me. Sure, OK. I’ll take whatever you’ve got.

I walked out of the shop with my discreet brown paper bag full of little pill-shaped containers full of fresh bud, a narrow tube with a joint, and a gorgeous carton full of weed-infused gummies. “Just bite a corner off the first time and see how you feel. It’ll take a couple of hours to feel it,” she told me.

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Before bed, I bit a corner off the gummy and went about our bedtime routine as usual. After the kids fell asleep, I was feeling sleepy too, although I was expecting to lay awake for hours. I could either stay in bed or get up and do some work. I decided to stay in bed and try to fall asleep. To my utter surprise, I woke up to pee and saw that it was four in the morning. I had slept a solid six hours. No tossing and turning required to get there. I did my business then fell right back to sleep until morning. For the first time in ages, I woke up feeling like I could function and be present with my kids rather than feeling sleepy and irritable all day.

I’m able to get a solid night's sleep. I’m more playful during the day.

I ventured on to smoking it as well, which made it easier to judge how much I was getting and kicked in faster than the gummies. Fast forward three weeks, and I looked and felt like a whole new person. The dark circles under my eyes fading, my attention during the day clearer, and my patience much stronger.

I realize how useful it can be as a natural anxiety reliever. Of course, using it responsibly is a given, just as parents who drink alcohol have to decide what is the right amount for them. Marijuana has transformed how I feel throughout the day, and definitely how I feel during the night. I’m able to get a solid night's sleep. I’m more playful during the day. As a solo parent right now, my mental health is mandatory when I’m the one holding my household together, so taking care of myself has to be a priority. Marijuana has provided a welcome relief to my anxious mind and restless nights, making me a more patient and relaxed mother for my kids.

As expected, daylight was peeping in through the edge of the blackout curtain, and a tiny hand touched my face. But this time I was already awake, feeling rested. “Wake up, little one. It’s morning!”

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