Listen. My children will be happy to tell you how I smell.
For the record, I don’t always smell bad. Sometimes they say I smell like skin or like the sun or like a campfire or like the bathtub, though that last one certainly isn’t always a good thing.
Most of the time, though, when my kids are pointing out how I smell, they use words like “puke” or “sweat” or “geez, Mom, did the dog roll on you?” and “yeah, Mom, did the dog roll on you after rolling in poop?” And then they giggle, but not one at a time. Nope, they giggle all together, because Maligning Mom is a sport for them; a team sport where they each know their positions and the importance of passing the ball and how to anticipate each other’s moves so they can score, man. So they’re precious little angels, is what I’m saying. My kids are DOLLS.
The other night, though, as I was laying in between my 8-year-olds while they were drifting off to sleep — a ritual I continue even though they’re too old for it, because it soothes all three of us and in my old age I’ve learned to give and take soothing wherever I can — one of them snuggled further into my side and breathed deep and whispered, “Mama, you smell like mint.” I pulled him closer and he snuffled and sighed before he went limp with sleep and contentment, and it was one of those moments of mamahood that rooted into my heart. Mama, you smell like mint, he said, and it brought back my memories of how my mom smelled when I was little and snuffly at her side. I know exactly that smell of safety still, and with it I can hear what my mom’s voice sounds like with my ear on her chest — the echo, the low vibrato, the hum of her conversation as I drifted off to sleep myself.
I left my boys’ room that night happy and content, fulfilled for the moment just to be present and love my babies and to smell like mint, and I shuffled into the bathroom to get ready for bed myself.
I brushed my hair, and I brushed my teeth, and I hummed to myself as I undressed.
Which is when my shirt caught on my skin and ripped a patch of it right off, just underneath my armpit where it’s soft and vulnerable.
“The?” I muttered, shirt still stuck around stung skin.
I tried to see what was causing the problem — duct tape, I figured, though how I’d managed to duct tape my shirt to my ribs, I didn’t know — but I couldn’t see well enough to know what was stuck or how to dislodge it.
So I pulled and peeled the shirt off, a little more gingerly this time after my first misguided attempt to simply tug the whole thing off in one fell swoop like a normal person.
That’s when I found it. The wad of chewed up gum adhered to my shirt and my body. Not my gum, of course. Someone else’s gum inside my shirt. A child’s gum, I’m assuming. A child’s chewed up, spit out gum. And not fresh, either. Nope. Not fresh. This was the kind of gum that’s been chemically transformed into super glue by at least one trip through a washer and a dryer.
Mint gum, to be specific.
Which is why I smelled like mint.
So, just in case you want to know how to smell like mint, too, I took a picture for you.
I’m currently considering placing more used gum in other strategic body locations, because, honestly, this is the best I’ve smelled in a long, long time.
P.P.S. If you actually ARE Pinteresty, I love you times a million. I do. True story.