met Laura Grennan on a cold morning this past winter in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In a gray sweatshirt, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, Grennan was pushing her daughters in a double stroller. Angel is her 2-year-old, and her 3-year old is named Isis—like the Egyptian goddess, Grennan is quick to explain. “I love Egyptian mythology,” she says, “so I just picked the name out of a hat, and I thought it was beautiful—until, of course, all the news of the terrorist group came out.” She sighs. “But we work around it.”
“Working around it” is something Grennan, 30, has had to become very good at in her life. Grennan grew up in foster care. Moved around a lot. Dropped out of high school. By her mid-20s, she had found some degree of stability—gotten her GED, held a series of jobs she liked. “I’m kind of a Jill-of-all-trades,” she says. She’s worked in an eyeglasses lab, done retail, and most recently, taken tickets at a “witchy tour” in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. She had been bringing in a steady, if modest, paycheck for several years by the time she and her husband were expecting their first child.
Then came what Grennan calls “the downward spiral.” “It’s one thing and then you lose another thing and then you lose another and it just keeps going.”