Smells Like Mom

You smell Chanel No5.

Now, you’re eleven years old and mom is getting ready for work. You’re still in your pyjamas sitting at her makeup table as she moves quickly to ready for her day. The hypnotic elegance of her perfume lingers in the air and elevates the whole world.

Nothing evokes memory and emotion like our mother.  Nothing evokes memory and emotion like our sense of smell.  Memories of childhood smells are abundant: baking, new shoes, bath time, a woolen sweater, your mom’s Chanel No5.  Scent can take you there.

Our sense of smell is closely linked with memory.  This is true more so than for any of our other senses. Our ‘smell cells’ are linked to that part of the brain that affects emotion and long-term memories.  Simply speaking, when we smell bread baking in the oven for example, the neurons in the upper part of the nose create a reaction which is passed to the brain from the olfactory nerve.  This connection, referred to as the limbic system has a powerful connection to memory, mood and emotion. Smells ring bells.

Studies have found that days-old infants can recognize the smells of their mother; by 2 weeks a baby prefers the smell of its own mother’s milk. And, it’s been shown that familiar scents (like Mom) can soothe an infant. No surprise, Mom is often our first smell Muse.

Whether your mom is still here with you (in the physical sense) or with you in spirit, it’s easy to ring the bells of your memory with smells that evoke warm moods and memories of days gone by. What smells like Mom to you?