You Smell Bad: A Categorization of Odors

At any given moment, I can pick a guaranteed minimum of five smells, generally foul, from my person. Nine times out of ten, the foul smells are not of my own doing, but of a smaller creature in my company. It’s bad enough that the fruit of my womb are responsible for such nasal assaults, and even worse, still, that they find a way to rub them all over my body. To survive, however, we must let go of the things we cannot change.

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There was a time when I cared.

I wouldn’t say that I no longer care that I frequently smell of stomach acid and cedar hamster bedding–we have no hamster, mind you–and I certainly wouldn’t say I’ve grown too accustomed to the smells to notice. No. I notice. But I am defeated. The odors created and sustained by the tiny humans in my home have overcome and reign victorious.

You may find yourself in a similar situation. You may be frantically searching for the source of the acrid bile smell floating around you. Pro tip: check your shoulder. $20 says someone barfed on you.

If you cannot relate, I humbly request that you continue reading and pour a forty for your homies in the stink trenches.

Now that I’ve made my qualifications, allow me to lay out the Categorization of Odors as per the life of a parent.

  • The Bathroom is Upon Us: From diapers to potty training and beyond, bathroom smells will never be confined to just the bathroom. Have you ever felt successfully ridded of a dirty diaper only to find yourself still suffering from the stench of it some time later? Yes, you have. You search frantically for the poop–you know it’s poop–and determine it’s on at least one of you. It has to be. Pro tip 2: check fingernails, elbows, and heels. Yes, heels. I can’t tell you the number of times a child has steathily donkey-kicked a removed dirty diaper mid-changing and escaped sight unseen. Always check their heels. And God bless.
  • The Great Stomach Rebellion: Why, God, did you make children to throw up so often? Maybe that’s not the right question. Why then, God, did you make stomach acid smell so terrible? It offends the senses in a way naught else can. For me, at least, bile/vomit is my hill to die on and it’s quite likely I will die covered in it. Far more than poop, I find myself on a continual hunt to locate the secret patch of vomit that is hiding on something and is apparently immune to every cleaning agent on this earth. Stomach acid is some next level stench and near impossible to remove. More times than I can count, clothes have just been thrown right-the-freak out because the smell cannot be washed out. And that includes clothing that was not even directly vomited on to begin with. I simply am unable.
  • The Aforementioned Hamster Bedding: In 1993, I owned a guinea pig. Chad was his name and Chad’s bedding was powerful in its smells, both soiled and fresh. But as I said, that was 1993, so I would love to know how and why my sons’ room often smells like a small rodent’s cage. I am not exaggerating; God save me if I am. Ammonia and cedar shavings. How and why. Do boys just smell like pee and trees? Is that an inherent quality to men? My daughter’s room doesn’t smell like that. God bless me if I smell like that; I’m 97% confident I do not. I need someone to explain the science of this phenomenon. And then please make it go away.
  • The Creature, Foot: Once in my life, I prescribed to the notion that stank feet fell into category with armpits and pubescent sweat. I had children and quickly learned I had assumed incorrectly. I get it. Feet are skin-covered extremities trapped inside of often partially unbreathable shoes. Fine. What I don’t understand is why something so sweet and wonderful as baby feet should be made to create such a stink, regardless of shoe breathability. Baby sweat doesn’t smell elsewhere. Why, feet, why? Toddler sweat, I will concede, does smell, though. Not quite like a teen or adult, but it stinks nonetheless. I am befuddled and not thrilled that babies can’t be immune at least where feet are concerned.
  • Food, I and Thee are One: Children seem to take quite literally the phrase You are what you eat, for they are either grape jelly or salted processed carbohydrates. Now, neither of those scents are particularly unpleasant to me in and of themselves, but when the little person climbing your body like an oak tree smells of Smuckers and Cheez-Its, it becomes hard to deal. And have they actually eaten either that day? Likely not. But does it matter? Well, no, as both are better than poop, vomit, and hamster shavings.
  • I Stink, Therefore I am: Every human has a natural scent, a unique aroma that distinguishes one from another. I am not quite aware of my own particular scent, but I am positive my husband and children could sniff me out in a crowd. Likewise, I know theirs, stink and all. And while I would choose the Clean Linen Glade plug-in over the Husband and Children plug-in every single time, over time, I have grown quite used to their scents. I daresay I even like them. And these are not their shampoo, their lotions, or cologne. No. It is the scent that says they live. That they are here and they are mine. In and of themselves, their base human scents may be offensive and off putting, but they are alive. And when their stink becomes too strong, a little bleach goes a long way.

Those are my assailants, though I’m sure there are more. If you see me, or smell me, out there in the mean streets of parenthood, send a spritz of Febreeze my way and I will thank you for it. What smell have you become prisoner to?


unnamedStephanie is a wife, mother of three, and blogger at The Mom In Black . A Navy transplant to Virginia at age sixteen, she is, for all intents and purposes, a Fredericksburg native and a pillar in the community. Just kidding. But, you can find her quite frequently haunting the chip aisle of the SuperTarget or rolling her eyes at the car in front of her in the Sonic drive thru. When she is not shuttling her oldest to school or tweeting from the bathroom, she enjoys watching DVR’ed episodes of shows her husband would never watch and perfecting her winged liner sweep. 

As a blogger and humor-lover, Stephanie’s children keep the idea tank brimming with post ideas. Named one of VoiceBoks’ Hilariously Funny Parent Bloggers of 2014, Steph enjoys finding the “funny” in the not-so-funny tasks of everyday parenting. If you ever feel like you’re the only one, chances are you’re not. And that Stephanie has already made fun of herself in a blog post about it. 

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