PBS American Portrait


A Mom Makes Sacrifices After Facing Unemployment

Kat, like many middle-aged Americans, has the responsibility of providing for her children. However, Kat, a bartender and housekeeper, lost both of her jobs at the start of the pandemic. Now she must figure out how to pay the mortgage and her health insurance, keep food on the table and provide for her household, including her autistic son.

AIRED: October 26, 2020 | 0:02:13

- As a middle-aged woman, um,

I feel like...

Right now, that I'm up in the air

as far as my life.

Usually, most middle-aged people are--

their homes are paid for.

They're about to head into retirement.

Their life is on track.

With me, I'm 51 years old,

I'm unemployed,

and I'm just trying to stay ahead of the game.


Okay, I'ma get ready

to finish prepping the rest of this dinner

while my daughter makes jokes.

- Hello! [laughter]

- I love being a parent.

I love answering questions,

giving them advice,

giving them encouragement,

telling them my little pearls of wisdom

that I learned,

and I always say, "I love being your mom,

"and thank you so much

for coming out of my birth canal."


My son--he's autistic.

You see my critic.

You happy about me cooking?

Yeah, you happy about me cooking?

My son also has hyperactivity disorder.

I was afraid that if he had an episode

where he was hyper, he was running, and--

like, what if the cops see him acting this way?

And I was afraid that the cops was gonna shoot him, so...

thank goodness that we found a medication

that will help him very much.

So we have to pay for our health insurance

and all of that.

Before the pandemic, I was working two jobs.

I was a bartender, and I was a housekeeper.

I lost my jobs in March,

and it was quite a blow,

because I was used to working and providing

for my family.

If you was a young person,

it would be okay.

Everything is a possibility,

you're willing to try new things,

you're not worrying about the risk involved

or what you might lose,

and you're not going gray.

So now I'm living off of unemployment.

Something's gonna have to be sacrificed.

It's just gonna be a long road, a scary road.

[serene music]