Standing over Violet, wiping off her highchair and face after she gummed down some Cheerios, I smelled the smell of baby. Not the sweet, yummy, baby smell that grandmas and other older women always report when they take a whiff of a newborn's head, but the sticky, oaty, scent that accompanies a growing human who has begun to eat real food, take real craps, but not really wash themselves.
Shawn and I bathe Violet every other day, more frequently if needed, so I'm pretty sure the smell isn't a hygiene issue. I don't even know if it comes directly from Violet though I know she causes it. Right after a bath, Violet smells like her soap, a lightly-perfumed lavendery concoction that, when combined with a certain baby giggle, is probably the root cause of all the spoiled little girls in this country. And even when she is covered with sticky biter-biscuit residue, has peas mushed in her neck-creases, and has a full diaper, she doesn't stink, not really. The diapers smell bad, yes, but they are easy enough to change and dispose of and most of the visible food can be wiped away.
I wonder if having a baby living in your house isn't kind of like sharing your home with a cat. When someone walks in who doesn't have a cat, they can tell right away that one lives there. I love cats, grew up with cats, don't have a cat right now, but probably will own a cat in the future. The thing that I never realized until I did not have a cat living in my house is that cats, as clean and fastidious as they are, have a certain feline odor that is impossible to disguise. It probably has something to do with those scent glands near their whiskers they are always rubbing on your legs and sofa. No matter where you put the litter box or how often it is emptied, the cat smell is a part of your house and easily identifiable to those people who do not have a cat.
I assume the infant smell is the same. No amount of Clorox in the Diaper Genie or Dreft in the laundry can hide the baby smell. Even if we were able to find enough closet space to contain the papasan swing, the Cruise n Crawl Jungle, the Sit to Stand Activity table, the Rainforest Jumparoo, and every other large, colorful, molded Playskool monstrosity that sits in our living room screaming "Baby Lives Here!," I am sure that someone without a baby would know that we had Violet. All the baby stuff has a smell and that smell permeates your home. From the artificial, sterile, lemony/powder scent of baby wipes, to the MRE aroma that accompanies anything packaged by Gerber, to the indescribable smell of plastic covered in drool that is all of her toys, Violet has marked her territory at the Pierce house.
The other funny thing about the smell that is Violet: I love it. I remember going to babysit when I was younger and smelling the baby smell at my charge's house and being sooo happy that my house didn't smell like that. In all likelihood, my own house with two teenage boys and a gross pre-pubescent girl probably smelled much worse, but it was our smell. And now, just like that, the baby smell is our smell, too. And I wouldn't trade it for all the cleaning ladies in the world.
OK, a cleaning lady would be pretty awesome. Maybe I would just ask her not to scrub the highchair too hard...