Single moms who chose to quit their jobs have to navigate child care, health insurance and financial concerns largely on their own. But some have also found a sense of relief.

Calling It Quits is a series about the current culture of quitting.


In 2020, J. Marie Jones, 43, was working as the digital communications director of a government agency in New York City. Before the pandemic Ms. Jones, who is divorced, had had a team of other people who made it possible to juggle work and parenting responsibilities with her daughter, Kaiya, now 12.

But when pandemic shutdowns began, she was left as the sole adult providing child care. “I would have to say, it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.

Time at home also raised new concerns about her daughter’s school performance, prompting Ms. Jones to become more involved in her daughter’s schooling. That involvement had a dramatic effect on her daughter’s academic achievement. “She had a complete 180-degree turnaround academically,” Ms. Jones said, noting that her daughter, who has A.D.H.D, is now back in-person at school, reading at grade level, and for a time‌ no longer required medication. (She has since gone back on‌ school days only.)

When her workplace began requiring all employees to return to the office, Ms. Jones decided to quit her job and focus on her new online business, selling inspirational journals she has filled with affirmations and scripture verses. In 2022, the business, Affirm the Word Literary, made six figures in gross sales, and she has sold about 20,000 journals, she said.

During the toughest times during the pandemic, Ms. Jones said she maintained her spiritual connection through the virtual programming of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, where she is a member. She credits her faith and habits for getting her through. “I really believe in journaling. I think it saved my life, just writing down affirmations every day, scripture verses and prayers,” she said.

Was it worth it? Though getting health care was a major concern, Ms. Jones said she was able to find Medicaid coverage quickly through the New York State’s insurance marketplace. She now works part time with another government agency, on a hybrid, remote schedule, while still expanding her business and spending time with her daughter.

“Now I show up to things. I’ve been to all parents and teachers conferences, I’ve walked her to school,” she said. “I think that feeling alone — the very first time I walked to the school — was just surreal.”