Smell This, MaMa!

Warning: This post may be too graphic in the description of body fluids to be comfortable for some

I have been living with a perpetually blocked or runny nose throughout my life until I became pregnant with Matthew. Overnight, my blocked nose cleared up and I could smell many things that eluded me most of the time, when my nose was blocked. And of course, that was also when the problems started.

Ask the Man and he will probably tell you that I react dramatically to odours. From cigarette smoke, distinct metallic smells in perspiration and blood, to a particular strong odour some shops that sell clothes emit. It’s always that one smell that suddenly makes breathing difficult and my eyes water, and I will most definitely gag and cough. (And the Man will look at me as if I have gone mad, but he will never understand.)

I can also smell coffee and the sulphurous odour, after one has consumed asparagus, in the urine. And don’t get me started on how adverse I am to the various odours I can pick up from poop. (The Man is probably rolling his eyes as he is reading this)

With my ‘heightened’ sense of smell, I was suddenly disadvantaged to be a hands-on mother. I gagged at the sour smells of vomit from the babies – Matthew regurgitated lots of milk when young, luckily Megan hardly any, and my little niece Natalie did some. But poop smells really torment me – back when the kids were babies and soiled their diapers several times a day, to now when I enter the ‘fragrant’ toilet to help wash their bottoms after they are done cleaning up after themselves (just to be doubly sure).

So you can imagine I am extremely skeptical, cautious and wary when someone asks me to smell something, especially when I don’t know the source of origin, or the smell has not reached me yet.

Megan and I were walking hand-in-hand along a familiar path we have walked so many times I did not even realize when I had let go of her hand. Suddenly, she stopped in her tracks and with her quick reflexes lifted her little hand almost to the bottom of my nose, while saying something to me. With my almost-equally fast reflexes, I recoiled from her fast approaching hand, while saying “What?! What?!”, almost in panic. Oh please, not something smelly she has touched and asking me to share it too!

Oblivious to my physical rejection of her hand, she brought her hand to her nose, smiled her pretty smile and then stretched out her palm again towards me. I forced myself to calm down and listen carefully to what she was saying. “MaMa, you smell my hand. My hand now smells like you. Mmm, so nice. I love it!”

I relaxed, and embarrassed of my rejection, brought my nose to her hand. True enough, her hand smelled exactly like my favourite rose-scented hand cream. Through holding hands, we shared not only a mother-daughter bond, but also our smells.

And the Man, who had witnessed the whole scene, was rolling his eyes and chuckling to his heart’s content. Glad I brought some comic relief …


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