### Embracing Parenthood: When “I Can’t Do This Anymore” Becomes a Mother’s Mantra

Maybe the first time I expressed these sentiments was during my 15th week of pregnancy, when I found myself hospitalized for an IV infusion of anti-nausea medication after enduring six bouts of vomiting within a day, unable to even retain water.

Alternatively, those words might have escaped my lips amidst the prolonged ordeal of a failed induction, laboring ceaselessly towards the C-section I had hoped to avoid, yet stalled at a mere 5cm of cervical dilation.

It is conceivable that I initially vocalized these feelings to my spouse following another sleepless night dedicated to triple-feeding our infant – a cycle of nursing, supplementing with donor milk via bottle, and then pumping to eke out the meager supply, all while battling fatigue.

I distinctly recall uttering those same words just last week, as my toddler’s fever forced us to stay home, disrupting my already overwhelming workload.

“I can’t do this any more.”

And yet, despite the unyielding demands of childcare and professional obligations, I persevered, as I always have.

Parenting in the United States often resembles an arduous endurance test, akin to running a relay race without a designated endpoint for passing the baton. We press on, fatigued and strained, in footwear and bodies ill-equipped for the marathon of responsibilities. Instead of medals or accolades, we cling to the hope of securing the survival, safety, and well-being of our children.

In a nation devoid of paid leave, lacking universal childcare, healthcare, and diaper assistance programs, and plagued by a concerning maternal mortality rate, the task of nurturing healthy and thriving children becomes increasingly daunting as income disparities widen.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic marked a breaking point for many parents, juggling full-time work with homeschooling amidst a health crisis, navigating a landscape devoid of adequate family support systems. Even in a society that prioritizes family well-being (which ours does not), the challenges remain formidable, amplifying the strain on resources and support networks.

For Margo Steines, author of the forthcoming memoir “Brutalities,” the experience of contracting Covid-19 in 2021 while caring for her baby solo during quarantine epitomized the overwhelming burden faced by many. Balancing caregiving, work responsibilities, and personal health amidst isolation underscored the relentless nature of parental duties.

Similarly, for Shai, the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer served as a poignant moment of despair, questioning the feasibility of raising children in a system marred by injustice. Despite enduring subsequent trials and tribulations, she persisted, navigating the complexities of parenthood in a society fraught with systemic challenges.

Amanda Montei, author of “Touched Out,” reflects on the intrinsic limits of motherhood, acknowledging the fine line between meeting children’s needs and addressing personal boundaries. Recognizing and respecting these boundaries is crucial for maternal well-being and familial harmony.

Rather than romanticizing parental struggles, we must acknowledge the systemic barriers that exacerbate these challenges. Building a community based on empathy and solidarity, rather than glorifying individual resilience, can foster a sense of collective support and understanding.

As we confront a future fraught with environmental crises, social inequities, and systemic failures, it is imperative to equip our children with the resilience and critical awareness to navigate their own moments of despair. By fostering open dialogue and envisioning a world built on mutual care and structural change, we pave the way for a more compassionate and sustainable future.