Now that I stop to think about it, it was my enhanced sense of smell that first gave me a hint of the superpowers that were to come as I made my journey into motherhood. Right from those very early days of pregnancy, before my body had visibly begun to reveal the new life growing inside it, I could feel myself changing. Some days the superpower was decidedly unwanted: the nausea rising up from dog poo on the pavement at twenty paces, my stomach churning as meat began to brown in the oven, closing doors and opening windows to get as far as possible from the source of the discomfort. Mainly though it made me feel strong, powerful. As if I was more in tune with the world as my body underwent this most primal of transformations before unleashing its creation on the world.
Once my baby was born, smell as superpower began to abate. In its place came new strengths, all rooted in the overwhelming desire to protect this little creature against all odds, to nurture him and help him flourish.
Perhaps as part of this, though, my sense of smell has never quite been the same as it was before I began this journey. There are the smells that I would never have believed that I would find so sweet: the scent of my sleeping companion’s milk-tinged breath as he snuggles up to me in the morning; the cheesy whiff of his toes released from tiny shoes after a day spent toddling; even the nappies, the smell of which I will pretend to merely tolerate as I inhale deeply to check if he needs a change, secretly hoping for that silage aroma that shows that everything is working as it should.
There are smells too that once I might not have noticed, or found inoffensive if I did, that now set alarm bells ringing and change my demeanour to one of defence. The curling odour of cigarette smoke that I am ashamed to admit I might have sought out in the past, a faint memory of an old addiction still wanting to be sated: its poisonous charms no longer lure me in but rather repel me as I cross the road in search of cleaner air. Those roads, too: years lived in London had inoculated me against their toxic fumes, or so I thought. Now though I am painfully aware of the fog the traffic emits. I would rather not tread pavements next to busy roads at all if I can help it, and if I do console myself that at least my baby’s sling lifts him up above the line of the exhausts.
Finally there are the smells that I have always loved that I am lucky enough to enjoy more frequently through this new way of life that motherhood has ushered in. The salty spray of the sea that seeps through the air into my nostrils on our walks around the neighbourhood, the delicious freshness of grass after the rain as I crouch down to his level to search for daisies, the heady perfume of the organic coconut oil I use to soothe his skin.
There are many changes I have undergone as I’ve become this creature called a mum, but there’s one thing that’s for sure: never in my life has life smelt quite as sweet.
Thanks to Sara at Mum Turned Mom for inspiring this post with her prompt: ‘My favourite smell’.