Mothers and Kids, and the Scents That Bind Us

Jos Plumeria

When I was pregnant with both of my sons I had the all too common and very dreaded smell aversions. Perfumes unfortunately were one of them. My aversion to perfume was so strong throughout my pregnancies that I literally could not look at a bottle of perfume, much less wear it. Because I am a midwife, I am around pregnant women a lot and I am continually amazed by those pregnant women who can wear strong and plentiful perfume and I have to suppress my desire to ask, “How can you do that?” Now that those days are far behind me, I relish in my fragrances and everyday I appreciate my ability to enjoy the glorious natural essences of the perfumers featured here on Scent Hive, including Roxana Villa and Ayala Sender who are also posting pieces today on their blogs regarding scents and motherhood.


Being a mother, I am of the biased opinion that my little boys possess their own enchanting smells, which create within me a meditative feeling of maternal longing as they sit cozily on my lap. Inhaling the oils from their scalps, the saltiness of their hard earned sweat, and the earthy grime in the creases of their palms; all of these being the most splendid of natural essences I will ever experience. These daily olfactory encounters bind us to our children in ways I’m sure we will never truly comprehend. Taking in their scents while reading to them at night, trying not to hold on too tightly while listening to them read as they learn new words; I attempt to put into practice my recent eastern philosophy reading, live in this moment, breathe this aromatic breath.


I don’t think my sons will ever associate a specific perfume with me. I change fragrances too frequently to ever have a signature scent. Chances are neither one of my sons will write about me wearing In Fiore’s Dayala the way in which Beth wrote so poignantly about her mother wearing Shalimar over at Perfume Smellin’ Things. (My moments of self-importance are few and far between enough that I think I can get over that). Instead, I try to pass on the deep love and affinity I have for the flowers that bloom here in the Northwest, especially in the spring. It’s blissful to have my older son point out lilacs to me on a walk or have my younger one point out his favorite “white flower” and his favorite “pink one” on our meanderings home from preschool.


My hope is that the experiences of flowers and appreciation for their beauty and fragrance will last with them beyond these innocent elementary school years. Maybe the joy that little blossoms bring to them now will continue with them or at least resurface in unexpected ways and foster the growth of our bonds. But at the very least you can be sure they know their mommy’s favorite flower in the world is plumeria. This is not because I am some model of perfect motherhood and my sons envision plumerias whenever they see me. It’s simply because the couple of times we have all been to Hawaii together I am constantly huffing the blossoms exclaiming, “this is my favorite flower in the world!” And also because I reminded them a few minutes ago…just to be sure. I also asked them how they would find me if they couldn’t see me or hear me, and my older son said, “by your perfume.” I just left it at that.


Thanks to Helg of Perfume Shrine for asking me to be a part of the Mothers and Kids, and the Scents That Bind Us project. It was an honor to be asked and a joy to write this piece. Please visit:

Perfume Shrine for Helg’s piece

Smelly Blog for Ayala Sender’s piece

Illuminated Perfume Journal for Roxana Villa’s piece

Posted by ~Trish

Photograph by Trish’s husband 


11 thoughts on “Mothers and Kids, and the Scents That Bind Us

  1. Trish,


    I, too, would have been unable to tolerate perfume during pregnancy. I find it interesting that while I explored aromatherapy during their little years, I didn’t open the door to perfume exploration/learning/loving until both were well into their childhood. Maybe *I* needed them to be past that raw, open, speed of light evolving stage, too.

    And certainly, perfume would NOT have done any help to the queasies of pregnancy. I did, however, follow my mother’s trick of keeping cut oranges with me, especially when I travelled…simply smelling them, and sometimes sucking them, did help to quell the nausea. I found it interesting when my second midwife recommended the same…

    I am with you entirely on the accept/embrace the moment approach. There is joy in connecting the moments, there is joy in the moments themselves. I remember Beth’s post about her mother’s scent quite well; it is beautiful. And I remember thinking as I read it, “but this could never be me.” Nothing wrong with that; just different.

    Am responding a bit telegraphically today, as I am trying to take in each of the posts your quartet has written. Off to another…thank you so much for your beautiful contribution. Happy Mother’s Day to you, and all of your readers.

    1. SS,
      I was fully in the midst of my perfume craze during my second pregnancy, so once beloved scents like Hiris are goners for me now.

      Beth’s post still moves me when I read it, and I hope my readers take the time to pop over and see why I referenced it.

      Thanks so much for coming over and I hope you have a lovely Mother’s Day!


  2. Trish,
    I love this post and can relate to so much here! As usual, I seem to have taken a totally different perspective on “Mothers and Kids, and the Scents That Bind Us.” Gosh, I’ve got an entire part two now to write about as I ruminate over my pregnancy and years with Eve.

    The intention that you hold with your boys is so lovely and I am sure that they will be very conscious of the olfactory horizon that lies before them.


    Happy Mother’s Day my dear,

    1. Thanks Roxana,

      At least for now they have a real love of flowers and that’s a joy I cherish.

      Happy Mother’s Day to you too. What scent will you be wearing?


  3. Trish,

    how lovingly you have illustrated your affection for your kids. And how brave of you to go through more than one while being a midwife. (It would be crazy for me!)

    And of course I like that you point out that searching and finding out the smellies in the world is much more than just perfume and plumerias feature so strongly in your household! (and what a wonderful blossom too!)

    Happy Mother’s day to you and your kids :-))

    1. E,
      One of theses days I will attempt to grow plumeria! It will have to be indoors here, but I know it can be done. Just takes time…and might have to wait until my boys are a little older 🙂

      Happy Mother’s Day to you and your kids as well!

  4. Trish,
    What a beautiful post! I love frangipani too. Ah, there are so many fragrant flowers I love… But unfortunately frangipanni absolute smells nothing like the real living flower…
    These flowers look gigantic though – is plumeria in Hawaii so large? (or it must mean that your sons are very young…). I can so relate to your interactions with your sons, because of my 4 wild brothers. They will always fall asleep on me in the car and were so cute even though they sweat all over my shoulder… And I liked holding their little grimy hands (they played outside a LOT).
    I sometimes wonder if we’re not overwhelming out little kids with wanting to be close to them…

    P.s. I wasn’t yet into wearing that much perfume when I was pregnant, but I don’t remember “good smells” bother me. I was, however, very sensitive to strong body odours of strangers on the bus, that was very unbearable (think sweaty men on the bus in Tel Aviv). I had to turn my head the other way to avoid the odour.

    1. Ayala,
      I have to restrain myself from squeezing them too tightly sometimes. Literally and figuratively; give them the space they need. Especially now that my older one is going to be a big 2nd grader!! LOL.

      That picture was last summer when they were 3 and 6, so yes, little hands. But the plumeria blossoms there are amazing!

      I am a tropical floral lover, but there is something so captivating about plumeria/frangipani. Of all places, I read a fantastic article about plumeria in the Hawaiian Airlines Magazine that I highly recommend. It’s really informative and interesting!!

  5. Only a month late in reading this, but I just had to let you know how touched I was by your words. I love this Trish!

    Happy belated Mother’s Day!


    1. Thanks so much for reading Dom. I hope you are well and maybe getting a bit more sleep with your little one 🙂

      Let’s meet up soon!

      Miss you,

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