There are a few reminiscences I have from when I was small that always give me comfort. I remember watching soap operas while sitting in a laundry basket when my Mom ironed clothes. I remember the yellow plastic mugs that always held hot chocolate on chilly days. And I remember the smell of JOHNSON’S® baby lotion after my nightly bath.
Memories like these faded as I journeyed through high school, university and tried to navigate the complicated life of a young adult. Then there was a ring. A wedding. A condo. And a house. I was growing up. A new passport. A better hairstyle. Well, maybe not better, but different at least. And then a flutter in my belly that wasn’t nerves. Somebody would call me Mama pretty soon.
Anxiety set in as I realized I’d never changed a diaper and had no idea how to raise a child. When my first son was born I was a bit clunky – like a baby foal finding its legs for the first time. The feeding went well, and the holding and things. I remember waddling to find a sandwich on the hospital cart at 2am and being able to easily find my room because it was the loudest. I wondered if my baby’s screaming was irritating the other new parents or waking their babies. As hours became days, the crying didn’t stop. Even worse, my own tears started too.
Being at home felt odd – mostly because I couldn’t believe the hospital would send us away with that amount of crying. Surely, we were doing something wrong.
Eventually, after reading a hundred articles and trying even more remedies for colic and acid reflux, I kind of gave up. Prop him up with pillows, they said. You must obviously change your diet. I can’t BELIEVE you’re still eating dairy! (insert sigh of derision). Have you tried administering chamomile tea?, they asked. Yes. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Judgement. I have tried it and it didn’t work.
Six months in, I sported a tearstained face and feeling of profound failure while my husband ran a warm bath. He had just been to the store and bought a few more things to ‘fix’ the colic. I walked into the steamy room and stopped. That smell. The comfort from my childhood flooded my senses and I wept freely – but this time in delight. It wasn’t the hot chocolate or the feeling of being nestled into a basket of laundry, but the smell of JOHNSON’S® that took me right back to peace. He had poured the JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME® baby bath into the tub and moisturized his own arms with JOHNSON’S® baby lotion. The former – along with JOHNSON’S® baby shampoo – were the scents of my past. Wow. The baby and I climbed into the bath (we always bathed together instead of fussing with the sink or baby tub).
Somehow that moment changed myself as a mother. As I breathed in the familiar scent that connected me to generations past, I realized that parenting this baby is my story. My job was to feel whole and comfortable and confident. The colic would pass. I would focus on our love, the skin to skin contact and try to cherish the crying instead of changing it. This, too, would be a fleeting moment and someday I would miss the crying as much as I miss bathing with my newborn.
That day changed me, and still, when I am full of stress and anguish I massage JOHNSON’S® baby lotion onto my skin after a bath to center myself. Something tells me that when my two boys are parents, they may turn to the same scent for comfort and fond memories of their gentle, loving childhood.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by JOHNSON’S® but all opinions are my own.