“I just want to maintain okay.

I don't even want to be great

right now. I just want to be okay,

I want to feel okay.”


These moms were doing it all. Then the pandemic hit

We spoke to mothers across the country who have been affected by the pandemic. Listen to their stories.

By Jazmin Goodwin, CNN Business

MacKenzie Nicholson
MacKenzie Nicholson

MacKenzie Nicholson

New Hampshire


MacKenzie Nicholson lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire, with her husband and two kids, ages 7 and 4. She was laid off from her nonprofit job in healthcare advocacy in June 2020 and has since struggled to re-enter the workforce without childcare. Her second grader has just returned to in-person learning after spending more than a year at home. But her younger child remains at home. When Nicholson was laid off, she could no longer afford preschool tuition so they lost their spot at the only licensed daycare in their area.

Being a mom

“It is so lonely. And I'm not

okay. I am not okay, I am

struggling. Oh, I'm

struggling. I cry, like, all day

every day, you know what I

mean? It’s a multitude of

things, right? Like, it's

financial stress, it's

relationship stress with my

husband and I, because I'm

exhausted at the end of the

day. You know, it’s me and

my internal … thoughts.

Like, I feel like I'm failing my

kids, I am not meant to be a

teacher. I am terrible at this

… I'm so quick to get

frustrated. And I'm not

patient … It's sort of that

internal dialogue breaking

me down, and I'm not okay.”

Powering through

“I want to be real with

people. And I want people to

know, like, ‘Hey, you

screamed at your kids today

because you lost control,

like me too.’ And I feel

terrible about it. But like,

we're all under stress, let's

work to be better together.

Let's talk about it. Let's lift

moms up so that they know

that like they're doing the

best they can.”

Redefining work

“I have struggled to get a full

workday in, ever since the

pandemic hit. And it's an

interesting shift in my

thinking, right? Because I,

before the pandemic, I

would have said like, ‘Nope,

absolutely not, like work has

to come first, that eight

hours have to get in before I

can do any of the ancillary

things.’ And now it's like, ‘No,

my, my family has to come

first, to the detriment of our

financial security.’ And I feel

that for moms everywhere,

like even moms … who have

less resources than I have

or less support — like I don't

know how we are not all in

mental institutions, right


Tammy Purdie
Tammy Purdie

Tammy Purdie



Tammy Purdie lives in Ashburn, Virginia, with her husband, 22-month old son, and nephew who’s in the 11th grade. Before the pandemic hit, Purdie was making a six-figure salary, but then left her consulting job in May 2020. Now her family lives on one income from her husband’s financial services job, and relies on his insurance benefits. Since parting ways with her employer, Purdie has been focusing her energy on starting a career in interior design, a longtime passion.

Being a mom

“I am a stay-at-home mom,

right now. It's a bit of a

challenging time for me, just

because I have been so

accustomed and trained

and just kind of used to

working, working, working. I

mean I literally just hit the

brake, it wasn't even slowing

down to then stop. It was

just like the brake had hit …

It's been very challenging.

I'm now kind of developing a

rhythm with my little one …

he's still very young, so

watching him change is also

kind of changing me and I

have to adapt quickly.”

Powering through

“I do think that as part of my

higher purpose, bigger

purpose … kind of full

picture of what Tammy can

do, I do feel like design is a

big piece of that. And as I

step away from the

corporate world and in

accounting, and pursue this

design, a very different

field, I am relying a lot on

God to guide me. Because

it's a little scary at first, like,

to be honest, it's moving

away from what you're so

used to doing. And what

comes as almost second

nature to you, to now

moving into … this new

chapter, this new journey

that you so much love, but

you don't necessarily have a

map to how it's going to


Redefining work

“Everything happens for a

reason, and I am looking at

this as though, you know,

God wants me to pursue

something else. It's almost

like this time is for me to

reflect and figure out what's

best for me.”

Daniella Knight
Daniella Knight

Daniella Knight



Daniella Knight lives in Alexandria, Virginia. She and her husband have three kids, ages 3, 5 and 9. Before the pandemic, she worked part-time at a property management company and part-time as a pediatric sleep consultant, and her husband worked full-time at a legal services firm. They worked opposite shifts because they couldn’t afford childcare. Then the pandemic hit and schools closed, and suddenly they were working from home while trying to homeschool three young children. When it was announced her children were doing virtual learning again last fall, Knight made the tough decision to quit her office job at the property management company because the situation was unsustainable. While it has put some strain on the family's finances, it has allowed her to have more flexibility to support her husband and children.

Being a mom

“You can't have both, and

that balance, and you're

always like, ‘Okay well, I'll

sacrifice my shower, I'll

sacrifice my sleep.’ You

know? ‘I'll sacrifice my

exercise.’ And, you know,

your self-care, the stuff that

you need is always the stuff

that comes last.”

Powering through

“To be able to make this

work, like I worked ungodly

hours and had to not say

‘yes’ to a bunch of things

that they wanted to do. Like,

do I take on less work? And,

you know, spend these

precious moments with

you? Or do I make that

sacrifice? Because I know,

I'm investing in your

financial future.”

Redefining work

“It was difficult for me to

leave my job, because I

really did enjoy it … I was

doing well helping the

company reach its goals. I

had built them a new

website from scratch. I'm

not even a website designer

or anything … We were

growing clients and I had

gotten my real estate

license. I had my first

transaction so things like

that. I was feeling very


professionally … Now, not as

much. I try to remind myself

that I'm doing what's best

for the family and for the

kids. It feels very thankless

some days.”

Darsheen Sargent
Darsheen Sargent

Darsheen Sargent



Darsheen Sargent lives in Renton, Washington and is a single mom to an 11-year-old. In the spring of 2020, Sargent was forced to take an indefinite leave of absence from her job as a home health aide because she did not have childcare for her daughter. Since then, Sargent has been staying at home to help her daughter with her online classes and look after her. Sargent is receiving unemployment benefits and hopes to return to work once she finds a suitable childcare solution.

Being a mom

“I keep going and going and

I’m there for everybody else.

But it's like, who's there for

me? And I wish I did have

that help, where I can say

‘Okay, what do we do? How

do I make these decisions?

What's the decisions that

we have to make?’ It’s me

having to make all the

decisions of how I handle


Powering through

“I’m trying to be strong, and I

know that in my life just

growing up, I've always had

to kind of be … well not kind

of, I was like the caretaker

of my siblings, myself, my

kids. And so I just had to

reflect back like, I know, I

made it through those

times. I know I'll make it


Redefining work

“It’s hard having to make

that choice to say, ‘Okay, do

I still continue to stay

home?’ ‘How do I work this

out?’ ‘Or how do I slip in a

little bit of hours?’”

Patricia Liu
Patricia Liu

Patricia Liu



Patricia Liu lives in Seattle and has two kids, ages 5 and 2. Before the pandemic, she and her husband both worked full-time in sustainability and materials management and marketing, respectively. After their childcare program closed, Liu and her husband juggled working from home and caring for their kids before she was laid off in March 2020. Liu has been unable to find a job that is flexible enough for their current childcare needs. She has since taken up part-time advocacy and volunteer work in support of parents and children, including testifying for the Fair Start for Kids Act in Washington state.

Being a mom

“When I was working full-

time … at my various jobs

like, I always wish I had

more time to spend with my

kids and less time focused

on work, like that just wasn't

a balance that was okay

with me. And then the

pandemic hit, and then I

was with my kids all day,

every day 24/7. And I was

just … it was stressful, that's

literally the hardest thing I

had to do ever, in my life.

That was so hard. And not

because I don't love my kids.

I mean, it's just that I wasn't

used to not having that

adult interaction and just

being able to do things on

my own without being

interrupted constantly. Like,

kids require a lot of


Powering through

“It's hard to be vulnerable.

It's really hard. That's like, I

think one … of my biggest

faults is like, ‘No, I'm fine.

Like, I'm solid.’ No, but I'm

not, you know, like, …

everyone has those


Redefining work

“I think a lot of women are …

asking themselves the same

question: Is this job making

me happy? Especially with

so many women out of the

workforce now, because of

this pandemic. And after

losing childcare, for

whatever reason, you know

are they willing to put up

with a work environment

that doesn't value women?

Are they willing to put up

with a work environment

that, you know, faults you

for being a woman, like, get

paid less? You aren't up for

… as many promotions as

your male counterparts?

Like, that's all such bullsh*t.

And I can feel myself getting

tired of it, I can feel

other women getting tired of it.”