SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane woman was one of three mothers profiled in a New York Times article about juggling work obligations, childcare and online schooling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The article titled "Three Mothers on the Brink" profiles three working moms from around the United States. Liz Halfhill, from Spokane, is a paralegal and a single mother of an 11-year-old son who is learning remotely. Halfhill is also going to school to get her associate's degree.
The article also profiles a working mother from Maryland with two daughters, one who has autism, and a mental health counselor from California with a young daughter.
The story follows all three women over the course of several months while they juggle work obligations and childcare simultaneously.
Halfhill spoke with Up with KREM Tuesday. She said she didn't anticipate how much the article would ring true with parents across the country in the same situation.
"I guess I didn't realize how far reaching it would be, and all of the feedback I was getting from parents was like 'we feel exactly the same, yes this is what I'm doing yes,'" Halfhill said. "I was crying for like two days because I felt emotional about how everybody felt pain I guess."
Throughout the pandemic, Halfhill has been juggling the demands of her job with arranging childcare for her son and finishing her own schoolwork.
"Some days are so busy they feel like they don't even exist," Halfhill told NYT. "It’s like I just went through 24 hours and I don’t even remember any of it because I was just, go, go, go, move, move, move.”
Halfhill told the New York Times about a unique way she and her son manage the stress by doing something they call the "primal scream."
"If we're frustrated we just 'Ahhhhh' you know? It's totally acceptable in our house to do it in a moment of frustration," Halfhill said.
And there are endless things to be frustrated about amid the pandemic.
Childcare options are few and far between. Sometimes Halfhill drops her son off at the Boys and Girls club, sometimes a neighbor can watch him, but other times she's left making the difficult decision of working from home when she knows her bosses would rather she go in.
“I don’t think they would fire me,” Halfhill told NYT, “but the possibility is always there.”
However, there have been some opportunities amid the pandemic that Halfhill wouldn't have gotten otherwise. She said the pandemic has allowed her to spend more quality time with her son than she's gotten in years.
"We made it through societal collapse, we were scrappy. It should not have had to be this way. But it was and we made it through,” Halfhill said to NYT.
Halfhill's son Max told KREM he isn't the biggest fan of online learning, but his mom has been kind and accepting through it all.
Halfhill said she doesn't have any advice for other parents, because she's still figuring it all out herself.
"The whole point of the article is I'm struggling too, however you're doing it is fine, don't feel guilty, just if you can keep going, keep going however you can. It's ok to not be perfect right now," Halfhill said.
"I just know that I saw a really great quote by the New York Times and it said 'It's not burnout it's betrayal,' and the point of that is that we have these systems around us that haven't supported us very well through this, and we're feeling bunt out," Halfhill said. "And we put it on ourselves like 'oh I could be doing better I could be doing more,' but I think we're doing all that we can, and at some point things have to come back through vaccination or however it works, at some point we'll have our systems back that support us so it's not your fault. It's just the way that it is."