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By 11 am

By 11 am, I am on the verge of collapse. On any given day. I didn’t know exhaustion until I was forced to become invincible, one day to the next. “Please, give me a minute. I am not an octopus,” I yell to my eight and five-year old boys when they hurl commands at me. Attempting to catch my breath like a first-time swimmer flapping her arms, struggling to stay afloat, struggling not to drown—this is what parenting during the pandemic feels like.  Some days, I want to cry because I have nothing left of myself to give. Not only am I parenting during a pandemic, but I have been forced to take on the role of “co-teacher” as well, to ensure that the boys are grasping some of the lessons being taught remotely. They both refuse to be in separate rooms, “away from the distraction of siblings,” as the virtual-learning handbook mandates. On the contrary, it is loud, messy, and full of distractions because they prefer to be huddled in the kitchen with me, …