header photo

The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics

ISSN: 2472-7318

Who cares for me? A reflection of burnout during the time of Covid

Brittany Coomes

Table of Contents

Keywords: parenthood; childcare

Categories: Parenting as (Im)possibility in Impossible Circumstances; Reflecting on and Refusing Racial and/or Gender Inequity

My first and only child was born in the time of Covid. This was, of course, exacerbated by the fact that I moved over 1,000 miles away from my family. To say this year has been hard is an understatement.

Before Baby came, we were hopeful, bright-eyed expectant parents. News slowly began to leak of a scary and confusing virus. Were we to wear masks or not? Stay away from people totally or maintain 6 feet distance? 

The fear continued to grow as Baby’s due date loomed near. And then, it popped. Baby had arrived.

Everyone needed something from me Baby needed fed, partner needed sleep, family needed communication and invasive answers to their questions. In this chaos, how could I focus on creating anything more? How could I focus on me? Who would help?

Who cares for the mother?

But time passed, and I created a routine to survive the chaos (with still no sleep). Finally, Baby was old enough to go to daycare and I went back to work — teaching full-time. I cried expressing milk that first time in my office. I had to leave the baby-centric world I built to start writing again  lesson plans, individualized education plans, student grade reports. I hated it and myself. 

I resented writing as it drew me from my child. But I found support. The women working at the daycare became a vital resource. At times, I loved them more than my partner. They were mothers themselves. They knew. They didn’t say anything when I was wearing the same clothes as the previous day or when my hair hadn’t been washed. They encouraged. They cuddled my baby. THEY knew.

They knew the time and unending energy sap that is Baby. They knew the feeling of motherly guilt. I can never do— be—enough. The workload continues.

They lived my experience. They helped those in my experience. But who helps them? Who cares for them?

Eventually, I began to understand the process of writing at work. I got good at it. I started to produce the required writing quickly, giving me free time. I started to look for projects that interested me. 

I could write poetry again. My other baby, an open educational resource, was finally published. I started my own blog and learned I am terrible at writing code. But that’s okay, I can learn. I can write.

I care for myself. I still have days where I love the daycare women, but first I love myself. I care for me.

More than a year in, I feel hope. I am no longer stuck in a position I can’t control. The chaos still exists, but I create. 

Who cares for you?



Brittany Coomes now lives and teaches in Ohio. She graduated with a M.A. in Rhetoric and Writing from The University of Findlay in 2016.   

Table of Contents