Down The Rabbit Hole (Or Slow And Steady)

Motherhood is… a marathon not a sprint.

Despite my heroic start to our Boston adventure, I quickly lost my mojo.  My UTI antibiotics kicked in immediately, but they made me nauseous and lethargic.  A few days later I woke up with pinkeye, and the day after that, Riley’s nose congestion morphed into an ear infection.  Back at the urgent care center, the doctor said to me, “You look familiar,” to which I responded, “Yup, I was your Saturday UTI.”  Then I pointed to Riley and said, “And here’s your Tuesday ear infection.”

Actually, it was a double ear infection.

Needless to say, things weren’t going as planned.   I felt like crap.  Riley felt like crap.  Dylan didn’t want to do his summer homework in Massachusetts any more than he did in Florida.  He was whiny, easily overstimulated (in a sensory way), and having a hard time listening.  Riley started asking, “When are we going home?” and both kids became a never-ending pitchy chorus of “I want a snack” and “I want Kefir” without the pleases and thank yous.  I began taking a sleeping pill daily to stave off anxiety-induced insomnia about nothing and everything.  Like a kid who begs her parents to send her to sleepaway camp only to get there and feel lonely, sad, and homesick, I wanted to go home.

I watched Dylan closely.  I figured he was next to fall down the rabbit hole, and I couldn’t help but imagine the ailments – a rash, strep throat, a broken bone? – that might land us back at urgent care for a third time.

In truth, I’m the one who fell down the rabbit hole.  (I stepped in dog poop, too.)  I had a good cry in the car the next afternoon on a solo trip to the “mah-ket” (when in Boston…).  In the parking lot, I texted Mike because I couldn’t talk without sobbing. After a supportive back and forth with tears splashing on my iPhone screen, he texted, “Persevere.”


On that long (but short in hindsight) flight to Boston with two kids, five bags, and a brutal UTI, I found my footing at baggage claim when that man asked me if I needed help.  It was in that moment that I knew I was tough as nails…if I chose to be.

I needed another moment.

Thankfully, it came.  (It always does.)

The morning after my cry, the boys and I met my sister and her kids at the local ice skating rink.  Despite my inner turmoil, we’d been spending some great quality time with family, and Dylan and Riley were in cousin heaven!   All three of my sister’s kids – ages three to nine – skate or play ice hockey at home in San Francisco.  On the contrary, it was almost two years ago at an ice skating birthday party that I finally realized I needed to have Dylan evaluated for sensory processing disorder.  After that long ago disturbing experience, if Dylan wanted to ice skate with his cousins, I sure as hell wanted to make it happen.

I have never seen Dylan so determined.  He hugged the wall for a few laps.  He leaned on a stack of milk crates for a few laps.  Every time he fell, he got right back up, and in the end, he held his own.  There was no fear or anxiety, just pure resolve, courage, and pride.


I guess you could say he had a moment.  Since he’s mine, though, I basked in the glory, too.  (Mamas can do that if they want.)

(p.s. Riley tried to skate, too.  Tried is the key word.)


A few days later, after Dylan’s cousins were back in California, I took him back to the rink.  (His idea!)


As we worked our way around the ice and he gained confidence, he inevitably skated too fast and lost control.  I reminded him to stand tall, hold his head high, and slow down because going too fast would make him lose his balance and fall (down the rabbit hole).

“Slow and steady,” I told him.  “It’s a marathon not a sprint.”

And then I took my own advice.


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2 responses to “Down The Rabbit Hole (Or Slow And Steady)

  1. Teacher2mum

    Yes, a marathon not a sprint – so we all get to stop for water sometimes. I hope the illnesses are now over.


  2. It’s so fortuitous to come across this post right now, because I’ve been mulling that over these past few days — what it means, exactly, that motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. I get that it means, “pace yourself for the long haul”… but from your post, I also get that it maybe also means, “You will hit a wall, and think you can’t go on, but then something will happen to re-energize you and you will find the strength to surge ahead.” It can get so exhausting to keep hitting those walls. I have a beautiful 1-year-old girl and she is as lovely as can be, and in daycare full-time Monday through Friday, and I still get overwhelmed by the monotony and demands of childcare, even as her voice and presence make my heart soar. That constant push/pull is crazy-making but I try to think of it like yoga… breathe through it, the difficult parts will pass and there will be sweet relief. Still, sometimes, a person just needs a day off! Thanks for sharing your experience.


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