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