At this point, "pandemic burnout" feels like the understatement of the year—especially for mothers. The utter exhaustion of motherhood during a pandemic begins in our bones and just works its way out through our undereye circles and grey hairs. And because this is simply where we're at with no end in sight, a group of moms decided to gather outside and just...let it all out.
Between Covid-related school and daycare closures, working from home with kids underfoot, the anxiety of having children under five who cannot yet get vaccinated, and just the overall stress and worry that has comprised our daily lives since March 2020—well, moms are fed up. So a group of 20 mothers in Boston took a "break" from the never-ending pandemic suffering for 20 minutes to self-soothe by letting out one primal scream after another at a local football field.
The event was organized by Sarah Harmon, a therapist, yoga teacher and mother. This is the second pandemic group screaming event she's organized—the first one was in March 2021.
"It was an Arctic night but people came out anyway and we just screamed at the top of our lungs and then we hugged and went on our merry way and it was quite healing," Harmon tells WBUR News. "I'm hearing my moms and my clients talk about their struggles...it's culminating in just this intense rage, and they have nowhere to put it."
If you're wondering what the collective rage of 20 moms sounds like, here it is:
I don't know about you, but that sound alone is almost as relieving as doing it myself in the middle of the woods in my backyard.
"This is exactly what I need," Ashley Jones, who lives in Charlestown, Boston, and has a 3-year-old son, tells WBUR. "It's a safe place to be with other people feeling the same thing with having a kid who can't be vaccinated."
According to the New York Times, the gathering consisted of five different parts: four normal screams for round one, a round of swearing, a "free for all" of shouts, and one big scream for the moms who couldn't attend.
Jessica Buckley, a 36-year-old therapist and mom of two children who are under five, says she could have kept right on screaming even after it was over.
“It’s been a really, really tough time," she says. “We’re still trying to navigate quarantines and stuff when the country seems to have moved on."
As a mom to one fully vaccinated six-year-old and one utterly vulnerable two-year-old, I co-sign all of the above. My toddler won't wear a mask longer than a few minutes. It's winter. Indoor play areas and gatherings are pretty much all a no-go because everywhere we go, no one is masked. She was six months old when the pandemic hit, and she doesn't know about library storytime with a bunch of other kids or the touchy-feely children's museum that was a huge part of her big sister's toddler life. Cabin fever set in for all of us after the holidays. Bundled-up walks around the neighborhood in single-digit weather can only do so much.
And now just typing this, I feel my own scream bubbling up from the depths of my stress-laden gut.
After the screaming session, each of the moms hugged and laughed and took photos with one another in the freezing cold. And while the conditions that brought them together are anything but ideal, at least they left the gathering knowing they were far from alone.