Before I became a mom, I was a bit anxious about my ability to take care of offspring. Would I be able to hear my newborn’s cries of distress? Would I understand my child’s first sweet words? Could I take care of my children despite my deafness?

I need not have worried. Once I crossed the threshold into motherhood, I was pleased to discover my hearing loss adequately compensated with an otherworldly ability to gather information by scent. This skill has served me well over the years, covering every stage of development in my children’s lives. My olfactory sense enables me to:

  • detect a dirty diaper from 20 feet away (Infant stage)
  • determine who ate the missing cookies (Toddler  – Preteen years)
  • know if smokers have been around my children (Teen years)
  • smell TROUBLE (Early Adulthood)

Consider the following exchange between my teenage daughter and me just before she turned 18:

“Where did you go?”

“To a house.”

“What did you and your friends do?”


If she won’t give me details, I’ll find out for myself. I call my firstborn to me and begin sniffing.

“I smell cigarette smoke! Have you been smoking?“


I raise her hands to my nose. She’s telling the truth.

“Let me smell your breath!“

She rolls her eyes and lets out an exaggerated sigh. Hmmm. No alcohol or tobacco scent.

“Okay, you can go.“

Before she departs for her room, she gives me the evil eye and says, “Mom, you’re like a HOUND DOG sniffing me all the time!“

Aren’t the teenage years precious?