This I Believe
I believe that the scent of my children is the closest thing there is to nirvana. When my children were born I was surprised at what an incredibly satisfying physical experience it is to be a parent. The feel of a warm, soft, tender lump of baby on your chest is indescribable. A baby, not an ounce of tension, entirely vulnerable, nestled against you, inspires an intimacy that is difficult to describe or duplicate. And then there is the scent. I found myself breathing in the smell of each child, deeply, as they nestled against me. The tops of their heads, their tummies, their tiny wriggling feet, like freshly baked bread. The smell alone was enough to transport me straight to a deep sense of well-being and contentment. And as they grew, I loved to kiss their sweaty little necks, just to breathe in that lovely scent again, “eau de bebe.”
Sometimes I wonder if giving birth, and caring for my children, somehow awakened primal instincts that make me particularly sensitive to smell. I don’t recall any particular feelings about the smell of anyone else. Well, maybe? I think I do remember being comforted by the smell of my mother as she held me, and feeling safe and warm as I snuggled up with her pillow. When someone dies, I think the most poignant reminder can be the scent they leave behind. The scarf that was my grandmother’s still has a faint odor of her on it. I am filled with warm feelings for her when I catch a whif. Perhaps the scent of those we love bypasses our brain and goes directly to our heart.
As my children grow and separate themselves from me physically, I experience the loss. I feel the absence of daily physical contact with fluffy babies and cozy children, reaching out for me with their chubby arms, crying for me to kiss their boo boos. I miss them even when they are right in front of me. This is the hardest part of letting my children grow up. I still find myself leaning over to kiss their heads, beautiful curly brown, and golden hair, just to catch a whiff of heaven. “Mom, you’re smelling me!” they exclaim. I’m caught. No point in trying to explain.
Grieving the loss of that physical connection with my children, I was sure I would never again have that in my life. And then I met my husband. The first thing I noticed was his wonderful scent. The very first time we were close, I felt this amazing calmness sweep over me. Wow! “You’re smelling me,” he said. And I was. “It’s your life essence” I tried to explain, but he didn’t quite understand it. “I’ve never done this with another man” I said
truthfully, “But your scent is just intoxicating to me.” My children have changed me forever. They have awakened me to the deep connection that comes through the closeness of bodies, through touch and especially through smell. And now this is an important part of the way I experience intimacy.
My oldest child turns 21 this week. I still love the fresh smell of her hair. My youngest child is 16, and I often marvel at the faint scent of baby that still lingers on her. But they are grown now, and my opportunities are limited. My husband still doesn’t quite understand it, but humors me by letting me sniff him when I need to. And I still feel a deep sense of contentment as I inhale his essence.
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