Thursday, September 20, 2012

Something Positive: A Childhood Memory

Does it seem like Dr. Momsie has become a Negative Nancy?  I just noticed that I seem to do a lot of complaining lately - complaining about Jr.'s daycare (which I really love), complaining about free-range parenting, complaining about the pressure on teachers, complaining about irritating parenting advice.  And, now, I'm complaining about complaining! 

Mama’s Losin’ ItSo today I take a break from complaining to write about something positive.  I'm taking my cue from a writing prompt provided by Mama Kat at http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/.  I want to stick with the theme of my blog (parenting, children, psychology), so let me tell you about a memory from my childhood that always makes me smile.  Emotional memories are often tied to our sense of smell.  Everybody knows this, right?  You catch a whiff of something familiar and immediately are taken back to a childhood memory.  This is just part of the amazing-ness of your brain.  Your "primary olfactory cortex" (smell center), has a direct link with your amygdala and hippocampus (emotion and memory centers, i.e. limbic center). Only a few synapses (brain connections) separate the olfactory nerve from the amygdala and hippocampus.  Olfaction is the sensory modality that is physically closest to the limbic system, and so smell-induced memories are particularly potent. This olfaction-emotional memory tie is often most strong for negative emotions (i.e. the smell of hot metal connected to memories of a car accident).  But, pleasant memories can also have olfactory triggers.  Let me tell you about mine.

A pregnant woman's nose is ultra sensitive.  One molecule of doggie scent or car exhaust odor can seem to be a massive cloud of stench.  Usually, this was a negative thing during my pregnancy with Jr., leading to nausea and extreme irritability (ok, so everything led to extreme irritability).  But, one lovely morning, as I was running in my neighborhood, a smell hit my olfactory nerve that immediately invoked a pleasant memory.  I can't even describe the smell, but I know it was good.  It immediately took me back to this:

No, it wasn't the smell of raisins.  It was the smell of my grandparents house.  But, not really my grandparents house, as they lived in a town with an oil refinery, so the smell was really quite unpleasant.  But, something in their house.  Maybe grandpa's cologne or their fabric softener.  Or, maybe the plastic of those silly California Raisins figurines that were all the craze in the late 80's.  We looked forward to many things during our trips to Grandma and Grandpa's: climbing their apple tree, sneaking a peak at MTV, sitting in Papa's lap, taking walks with Grandma, and going to the store to get new California Raisins toys.  I don't remember playing much with the raisins, but I do remember wanting more and more (isn't that what kids do best?)  I'm sure my sister and I would cleverly set them up in their band formation right before we glued ourselves to the tv to watch Jem and the Misfits. 

However insignificant they were at the time, those darn raisins have carved a memory in my brain.  A pleasant memory of sweet times with my grandparents and my sister.  A memory that makes me smile.  A memory only able to be recalled by the nose of a pregnant woman.

11 comments:

  1. Yes, whatever happened to those California Raisins? My best friend's parents house smelled like cigarettes (I know), soap and something else and I always loved being there.

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    1. Funny how even smells we think wouldn't be too pleasant (cigarettes) can evoke positive memories :)

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  2. I love this and how you anticipated visits to your grandparents. Since I will be such an impossibly old grandparent -- this gives me such hope that my children's children will find something lovable about me.

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    1. Ah, don't worry. Grandparents are always lovable! The older the better! ;)

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  3. Smells are probably one of the best triggers of my memories.. both pleasant and not so pleasant. My favorites... the smell of Autumn, burning branches in the Spring, a barn yard (strange as it sounds), bread and rolls baking. And much more!

    Thanks for the reminder of how wonderful our senses are!

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    1. Aren't autumn smells the best! I started burning all my pumpkin scents this weekend and couldn't resist getting out those autumn decorations. Thanks for the comment!

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  4. Ok, I had no clue how scents affected memory! Great lesson today. =) I love your memory of being with your grandparents! That's wonderful. I'm always surprised when I smell something and it makes me think of something I hadn't thought of in years, sometimes decades! Our bodies are amazing!

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    1. Olfactory memories can be such a pleasant surprise, huh? Thanks for the comment!

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  5. The smell of baby powder reminds me of grandma and grandpa and the smell of baking reminds me of you! I loved getting "rasins" at grandpa's! I loved watching Jem's and rocking out with you! Most of all, I miss my sissy! Love you!

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  6. Smell of baking reminds you of me!? That's flattering. Hmmm, I think the smell of pickles reminds me of you. Just kidding ;)

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  7. Nicole and I were just talking about the "pickle" thing two days ago. Almost died laughing when I read this. What wonderful daughters I have.
    Missy

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