But women’s candor isn’t always met with acceptance, especially when it comes from mothers who are being honest about their partners and children. “I worry about vocalizing being frustrated because I get the ‘Well, it’s your choice to have four kids,’” Shauna says. “And I do think about that sometimes—there are people who’d kill for the situation I’m in, so I need to be grateful for what I have. So I try to keep that mind-set, but at the same time it shouldn’t prevent me from feeling frustrated or venting.”
“I think it doesn’t matter what your circumstances are—motherhood is still really, really hard,” Laura says. “Growing up, some of my family would say that anger was ‘unladylike,’ and now I think that’s the most toxic thing you could ever say…and it’s also not true. Everybody has the capacity for anger, so why is it that moms are expected to suppress it? Everybody needs a way to get it out.”
Plus, mom rage can be productive. Moms aren’t just enjoying a weekly (or daily) bitching session, then folding another load of laundry or rushing to another drop-off; we’re running for office, voting in local, state, and federal elections, and staying politically active to ensure our anger becomes a catalyst for institutional change—change that would make it easier to raise children in a country that has historically and perpetually failed families, especially black families and families of color.
“There’s really such sisterhood in anger,” Jamie, 37, a mom of two and writer living in Connecticut, says. “I feel like so often our anger is turned against us in these totally manufactured ways.”
For Jamie, who says the majority of her mom friends are online, raging about the current political climate is cathartic, motivating, and an important release that gives her space both apart from her children and to envision a better future for them.
“It’s nice to rage with anyone about politics, but to specifically have moms—because I feel like they’re angry about it in the precise way I’m angry about it a lot of the time—to rage with is really, really nice,” she says.
Jamie says she talks to her mom friends about everything from climate change to the Iran conflict, the ongoing wars the United States is already involved in, and abortion rights at least once a day, every day.
“Being able to talk to somebody about it through the lens of motherhood—what about the long-term ramifications of this?—is cathartic,” she says. “It helps to know that you’re not alone and there are other people who care about this. It helps me remain politically active because, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I feel like you can engage somebody via motherhood.”
The collective and righteous anger of American moms was felt during the 2018 midterm elections, when a record number of moms were elected to Congress. As a result, the first-ever Moms in the House caucus was created, where moms on both sides of the aisle (21 Democrats and four Republicans) can, as Representative Debbie Waserman Shultz told the Washington Post, not only “be [in] support of one another but also to help each other be successful, to use it as a way for us to advance an agenda and collect our power, to move things forward.”
It took one block of relentless bitching before my simmering frustration abated. My friend softened too.
Very few things in life are certain, particularly when it comes to parenthood, but one thing I know for sure is that another moment will present itself that will leave me indignant. And in that unavoidable moment—my one-year-old throwing a toy directly on my big toe, my five-year-old screaming that he hates me because, yes, one must wear pants to school, another anti-abortion bill forcing—I will know just who to call.
Danielle Campoamor is a reproductive justice and abortion rights activist and freelance writer, published in the New York Times,
the Washington Post, the Guardian, and more. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner and two children.