Stories from the “Pressure Cooker”: U.S. Women Navigating Motherhood and Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Alison Happel-Parkins 1 * , Katharina Azim 2, Mary Neal 3, Keishana Barnes 4, Edith Gnanadass 5

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp. 1-20

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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the difficult juggling act women in the U.S. have to do between parenting their children and working outside the home. The pandemic has also led to a decline in maternal mental health, particularly among mothers with young children, mothers of color, and those with previous mental health issues. The authors noted these experiences in their own lives as mothers with children and observed them in the lives of the women around them. These observations informed the design of this narrative inquiry study, in which we used semi-structured interviews to explore mothers’ shifting ideas and experiences of mothering, work, and family life during a global pandemic. We used creative analytic practice (CAP) to compose reflexive researcher conversations around the interview data that enabled us to highlight nuances in the data, show more transparently our meaning-making, make visible our researcher subjectivities, show uncertainties about aspects of data interpretation, and create a more accessible data representation.

Keywords: Mothering, COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. women, Narrative inquiry, Creative analytic practice.