On a cold January night, just outside a local high school in Boston, a group of mothers came together to scream into the darkness.
Led by therapist Sarah Harmon, the 20-strong screamers were there to vent their ongoing frustrations with the pandemic.
Harmon described it as “quite healing”, an opportunity to let out the “intense rage” that mothers have had nowhere else to put.
Twenty of them showed up. Others had RSVPed, but needed to stay away on account of either themselves or other family members being a close COVID contact.
And while they may be on the other side of the world, experiencing Winter temperatures, it was easy here in Australia to relate to the motives behind the group screaming.
These mothers were fed up, exhausted, overworked, underpaid.
Approaching their third year into the COVID-19 pandemic, these mothers were responding to yet another spike in the pandemic: record case numbers, school closures, the loss of accessible childcare, frustrations at kids unable to be vaccinated.
Journalist Melinda Wenner Moyer couldn’t have put it any better when she wrote that parents were defeated long before Omicron. “Now we’ve reached a state of the pandemic where finding the words to describe our lot is simply an exercise in absurdity.”
Australian mothers relate to many of these experiences, which is why the Boston group’s vent was described as being “heard all of the world”.
There are single mothers, new mothers, older mothers, mothers of toddlers struggling with childcare and a lack of access to care support from others. Mothers of school-aged kids, recovering from months of remote learning and contending with safety concerns and logistical challenges at the thought of kids returning to school next week. Mothers caring for children or other relatives with a disability or illness. Mothers who are also teachers and early childhood educators and healthcare professionals, who can not get a break.
Mothers, millions of mothers, who’ve cared for others with COVID-19, often while being sick with COVID themselves.
These are mothers who’ve taken a hesitant glimpse of an optimistic glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, only to see it go dark again.
Overall, they are mothers who so often have bottled up their frustrations. Unable to say or complain on account of knowing that someone, somewhere, always has it tougher than them.
And they are mothers, right? They were long expected to put themselves last, well before the pandemic.
So yes, we heard the primal scream from the Boston mothers on the other side of the world.
And whether you’re a mother or not, you’re also no doubt frustrated, angered, exhausted and facing the uncertainty of what happens next.
I’m sure we could all take a moment to scream into the community. In solidarity.