Her Recession: Spokane mom shares pandemic struggles with the New York Times, learns she isn’t alone

SPOKANE, Wash. – Sometimes, a simple message goes a long way. Liz Halfhill has sticky notes scattered around her home that say, “Stop and breathe.” It’s a method her therapist asked her to do.

“They work. I mean, I kind of calm down if I’m stressing out and I look at them,” she told 4 News Now.

However, in between those moments, she’s more than just tired.

“The only way to describe it is complete exhaustion,” she said.

As a single mom, it was a struggle for Halfhill to juggle virtual learning with her 11-year-old son, Max, on top of working full time as a paralegal.

Halfhill, herself, is a student at Spokane Community College, finishing up her associate’s degree in paralegal studies. At one point, she also switched jobs in the middle of the pandemic. It’s become a lot.

The stability she had before the pandemic is gone.

“You are on a seesaw, right? And there’s seven different things and you have to balance it all,” she continued. “When something like school or child care or working in an office is stripped from under you, the few things that are really dependable, like if you don’t have those, it just becomes even harder.”

One day, it became too much. Over the summer, she found out her son wouldn’t be going back to school in person for the fall. In the middle of a conversation with her sister, she found something that could possibly help.

“She said that she had seen on Instagram an NY Times parenting piece and was asking mothers to submit their stories, so I did,” she said.

Halfhill’s story made it into a New York Times’ piece called, “Three American Mothers, On the Brink.” The article followed three women in different parts of the country for months, sharing their everyday experiences of being a mother in a pandemic.

They all had different situations, but the underlying message was the same. The mothers in the article, and many others across the nation, are juggling a lot right now. Ultimately, they knew there was no end to their tiredness and work just yet.

“I would lay in bed many nights over this and think ‘I don’t want to wake up and do it all over again, I just wish I had nothing to do,'” Halfhill said.

The article was shared nationwide and received many responses. Those responses meant a lot to Halfhill, who realized she isn’t alone.

“It made me cry, because there’s so much pain, for all sorts of moms across – sorry – it makes me cry now,” she said, getting emotional. “There’s just pain all over the country for all sorts of different moms, and parents, in general.”

Reports are detailing how women are taking on more responsibilities during the pandemic. Some have had to quit their jobs, choosing instead to stay home with their child.

The January jobs report highlights that crisis yet again. Another 275,000 women stopped working or looking for work in January. The National Women’s Law Center says more than 2.3 million women in the U.S. left the work force since last February.

As the sole provider for her kids, Halfhill didn’t have a choice.

READ: Her Recession: Spokane steps up in a big way for single mother

“You get home at the end of the day, and as a single parent, there is no dinner waiting, there is no laundry folded, those are all your jobs, too,” she said.

Though it’s work, she’s happy to do it to be with her son. The last 11 months have been tough on her, but she’s making it through.

“I almost have this attitude of like, the only way out is through. I just have to keep going, keep making adjustments, and hopefully there will be an end to it. But, if not, I’m prepared to keep chugging along,” she said.

Sharing her story, her message, with other moms across the country helped her. It made her realize she’s not the only one who needs to stop and take a breath from time to time.

“However you’re doing it, it’s okay as long as you’re getting through,” she said.

Halfhill says her situation is getting a little better now. She’s back working in the office and her son will soon be heading back to school on a hybrid schedule. Though that came with some obstacles of its own, she’s figured out child care for him during those virtual learning days.

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