Dear Carolyn: I have a full-time job, toddler, no child care. I am hardly the first to point out how difficult things are right now. Other than my husband, I vent to very few people about the difficulties, simply because there is so little time to TALK to anyone. But on the rare occasion that I do, I find it really hard not to get violently angry at the suggestions these usually wise confidants make. My mom’s suggestion: “Just save all your work for after the toddler goes to sleep.” Which assumes I have absolutely no need for sleep myself and can somehow survive 20-hour days. My friend’s suggestion: “Everyone knows parents are suffering. Just don’t apologize for needing more time to do things at work.” Which is unrealistic considering I still have personal standards, career goals, and a boss who is also on the hook if my work isn’t done or is done poorly.

I know these people mean well. But I just feel that every suggestion being circulated to suffering working parents is unrealistic and sort of adds onto the suffering. Am I being too harsh?

— How to Get By

How to Get By: No, not even a wee little bit.

This originally appeared in 2020, and child-care shortages persist. So you were right when you wrote this and it’s still right now — you’re entitled to all of your outrage. The ongoing conditions for parents are a Pez dispenser of s---, and don’t let anyone tell you it would be candy if you only did X or Y.

It sounds as if you need to say explicitly that suggestions are not helpful because there are no helpful suggestions. Not unless they somehow involve someone else coming in to assume some of the work. The math is clear: You used to have one person over 24 hours doing A or B; now it’s one person over 24 hours doing A and B. This gets easier only if you add a person, add hours, or subtract responsibilities. That’s it.

So, tell them upfront you really just need listening, please, and sympathy/support, unless they can add a person to the rotation or hours to the day or assume a responsibility for you.

I am, utterly and powerlessly, sorry you and the millions got stuck holding the Pez.

Re: How to Get By: Whoa. You whizzed past the husband, named early in the question. What is he doing to make things better? The writer shouldn’t have to be doing two jobs now, toddler and work — she has to be doing 1 1/2, splitting the toddler with the husband.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: No, he’s plugged into the same formula. He’s one person who used to do A or B in 24 hours, now also doing A and B. I just was streamlining. Sorry I didn’t spell that out. Single parents have it harder right now, significantly, but a second working parent is still a Pez situation.

I have no … well, anything for “splitting the toddler” right now, because I think even Solomon flinched.

Re: Child care: For days when this all feels endless, just a small thing, but one that helps me: We. Will. Get. Through. This. We’ve already come so far.

— Mom of Three