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‘There’s No Backup’: Single Moms on Quarantining with Kids

April 11, 2020

This podcast was originally published in NPR’s Here and Now

I started taking the pandemic seriously when schools closed. I’ve never seen day-to-day life change so drastically for so many Americans.

Friends began posting pictures with their kids online, with #homeschooling. I couldn’t help but wonder: How the hell would a single mom juggle everything in this new normal? It feels untenable.

I’m not raising kids so I reached out to single moms in the Bay Area area to find out. Call it morbid curiosity, but it’s also a study in human resilience.

Two moms agreed to keep regular audio diaries during the first three weeks of the regional shelter-in-place orders. Rachelle Rasmussen, 39, lives in Santa Clara, California, with her sons, ages two and three months. She’s nursing both of them.

Trained in accounting, she left her job to raise the children while her husband worked. That plan fell apart last summer when, in her first trimester of pregnancy, he physically attacked her. They separated after the domestic violence incident.

“The man who was supposed to be my rock became the rock that instead shattered me,” she says.

In one of her audio diaries, Rasmussen put her specialized bike on Facebook Marketplace in hopes of selling it. She had bought the bike new for $1,300 and listed it for $600 — but interested buyers only offered her $300.

In another, she chronicles taking a nap with her kids and driving to a friend’s house to pick up hand sanitizer.

One day, Rasmussen felt a tear roll down her cheek though she wasn’t sure why.

“I think it’s because I was kind of missing my husband in a way,” she says. “At the same time, I was just sad for his choice to do what he did. But I think I’m strong, a strong woman.”

Listen to the podcast here

Help us expand our reporting on single mothers:

If you’re a single mother, we want to hear from you: What additional challenges do you face with coronavirus confinement? What worries you the most? What do you need help with?

Send us your voice recordings at We want to grow this important conversation on our social media channels and broaden the space for single moms to share their experiences publicly.

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