Pregnant with her third child, Jamie Murdoch is also caring for her mother who's on dialysis. The Brooklyn native, her 14 year-old daughter and her 4 year-old son recently moved in to Jamie's mother's one-bedroom apartment in Ft. Greene on quick notice.
"My landlord sold the building and we had to move right away. I started to look around for another place but nothing is affordable around here and I needed to be close to my mom so moving in with her was the best option."
In the meantime, she's stashed nearly all of their belongings at the CubeSmart facility on 945 Atlantic Avenue.
"Everything is in here—practically everything we own. I have the day-to-day things at my mom's place but the three of us are staying in her living room so there's not much space."
This Brooklyn is very different from the one Jamie grew up in, where her parents owned a house and almost all of her neighbors were African-Americans. Now, with gentrification, the addition of the Barclay Center down the street and an influx of neighbors of all nationalities, the neighborhood feels less familiar.
"My first apartment when I was 17 years old was $500 a month for a one and a half bedroom. My last apartment, which had two bedrooms was $1500. Now I can't find a one bedroom for that price. I'm fine with the changes and the diversity but I wish we could keep some affordable housing options around here."
When she had her son, Jamie left her job at the Department of Education, and then her mom got sick so she hasn't gone back to work. On a daily basis, she's busy enough with the challenges of the caretaking "sandwich": getting her kids fed and off to school and making sure her mom has her medications, gets to doctor appointments and has enough to eat. Her partner lives on the other side of Brooklyn and he helps out when he can, though she admits she's not good at waiting, and does what can be done at any given moment.
"It's a lot to manage and it can be overwhelming with the pregnancy hormones. But then I take a moment for myself. Then I take a deep breath and get up and do what I need to do. This is my mom. I'm thankful she's here. And I love my kids to death. I wouldn't change anything about them, and I actually miss them when they're at school."
In 2018, Jamie plans to look into going back to school, ideally in healthcare administration, and ideally with an online program, which she says is the most realistic option right now for her schedule.
"I'm a little nervous about what I can actually handle but I'd like to get back to work. I miss having a job."
Jamie is looking to move out to her own place before the baby comes in April, but for now she is keeping her focus on taking care of everyone and staying ahead of her responsibilities.
"It will come together. All I can do is keep pushing through."