You know that cringe-inducing, stomach-dropping feeling you get when you hear a car’s tires squeal in the distance from someone slamming on their brakes because they’re about to hit something or someone? Well, that’s how I feel every time Matty sneezes. Every time he sneezes no matter where he is in the house or outside, I stop in my tracks and wait. 89% of the time his sneezes are followed by loud, terrified, inaudible screams and subsequent sobbing, shaking and running to safety — er, “safety”. If there’s anything Matty hates more than flies, it’s a sneeze followed by a wad of snot.

They say it’s funny how kids change your life but always fail to mention these types of changes, the kind you could never fathom. I mean, feeling the same way about a possible impending car wreck in the distance as I do about a possible byproduct of a sneeze inside my home is absolutely ludicrous but also 100% part of my life. I get nervous driving alone with both of my kids, not because it’s dangerous but because children’s temperaments change quicker than I could blow out a candle. A fly could appear our of nowhere. A child could drop an m&m or a toy car. Abbott could hit Matty with a stick. Matty could sneeze the biggest sneeze he’s ever sneezed with more snot than I’ve ever seen.

That’s what happened this morning on the ride to school and it took everything in me not to flip on my hazards and pull over to the side of the road. And actually it wasn’t just one sneeze it was three sneezes, timed moderately apart. As Matty screamed and kicked the back of my seat in terror, snot just sitting in large chunks under is nose and around his mouth, I cursed my own ineptitude to successfully teach him that sucking in through his nose it actually not the same as blowing it — a lesson we had worked on for the umpteenth time just before we left the house. I tried consoling him, straining to see the “damage” through the review mirror. I handed him napkins and again cursed my own ineptitude to teach him how to properly wipe his nose as he smeared the snot and his tears all together in wide streaks back and forth across his face. In case you’ve ever wondered why we’re all sick all the time, this is probably giving you a lot of insight into how that might be.

“Buddy, just wipe it off. We’ll be at school in a minute.”
“No, NO, nooo. *inaudible, high-pitched screaming* GET IT!”

And to think I had been worried about wearing pajamas to drop-off; silly me. I looked back to see Abbott with a look of pure confusion and ‘get me the fuck out of here’ on his face. I handed Matty napkin after napkin hoping he’d eventually figure out how to manage is own cleanliness.

Upon opening Matty’s door when we arrived at the school my stomach turned, the amount of snot lodged between the high neck of his half-zip sweatshirt and his chin was alarming; for a split second it seemed like an abnormal amount and I wondered if I should Google it but instead I used the rough brown napkins to wipe it all up as quickly as possible. When I lifted Matty out of his car seat, I asked him to wait on the sidewalk in front of the car while I got Abbott. As I was unbuckling Abbott, I watched Matty on the sidewalk and noticed the sunlight shimmering high on his cheek, near his eye. As I focused more, wondering what it was, I realized the shimmer was being caused by a giant chunk of snot that was just sitting on his cheek. As the dads in their business attire unloaded their neatly dressed kids, there I was in sweat pants, an oversized sweatshirt and a handful of wadded up napkins hollering at my snot-covered child to come back to the car because I missed a spot (I missed a snot? MOM JOKES ARE REAL).

BUT I did remember both of their stuff animals for the Noah’s Ark parade so I had that going for me.

Parenting has changed me and my life in a lot of ways — some of those ways are very obvious, some of them are very subtle. Some of the changes are welcome and some will take a little getting used to. I get nervous when kids sneeze now and I have to de-fly the car before I put my kids in it — I’ll let you guess where those change fall on the spectrum from fun to borderline psychotic — but no matter the inconvenience or level of odd, I’ll always advocate that they were (and are and will be) all worth it.

Have a great weekend. Relish in the big things, the little things and all the things in between.