In Boston, many mothers were exhausted. The pandemic had been so debilitating that they wanted to scream.
But they had to persevere because they had to raise children, build careers and finish chores. They have been incarcerated for almost two years.
But one night this month, about 20 mothers gave up their duties. They left their children and homes behind and went to a high school football field.
One by one, they emerged from the shadows and gathered at the 50-yard line.
They stood in a circle under the soft lights and for 20 glorious minutes they screamed and screamed and screamed, said Sarah Harmon, a therapist, yoga teacher and mother who hosted the gathering.
Their voices, carrying years of pain and anger that they could finally let go, melted into a haunted chorus, according to videos of the gathering.
“It was so nice to lose control for the first time,” one mother told Ms. Harmon, who lives in Boston.
One of the participants, Jessica Buckley, said many of the moms weren’t aware of DailyExpertNews’ primal scream hotline, which is available to moms who want to scream, laugh, cry or vent for a minute.
Ms. Harmon, 39, first held what she called a primal scream meeting last year, after her clients suggested it. She counsels mothers who, like her, have gone through various stages of despair, anger and fear as the pandemic continued.
Ms Harmon, a mother of 3- and 5-year-old daughters, said her children were driving her “absolutely crazy” during the pandemic.
At the January 13 meeting, previously reported by radio station WBUR and The Boston Globe, she said many mothers felt bitter.
They wondered why the pandemic was still going on and why children under 5 couldn’t be vaccinated, said Ms. Harmon, the founder of the School of MOM, a mindfulness website for mothers. (Children under 5 are still not approved to receive a coronavirus vaccine.)
That’s why the meeting was so cathartic, she said. For once, the mothers could just let go.
“It’s just amazing how light you can feel after doing that,” she said on Sunday. “I slept better.”
On the soccer field, Ms. Harmon signaled the start of another round of screaming by raising two glowing unicorn sticks belonging to her daughters.
The gathering, she said, unfolded into five parts, the first four of which were a normal scream, a round of curses, a “free-for-all” scream or shout, and a shout in honor of the mothers who were too many. . pressure to attend.
Some moms go out of their way to scream, bend over and throw their arms back, according to videos Ms. Harmon shared.
The fifth part was a contest to see who could scream the longest. The winner, who screamed for about 30 seconds, was Mrs. Buckley, a 36-year-old therapist and mother of two.
“I probably could have kept screaming,” she said on Sunday. “It’s been a very, very difficult time.”
She said she felt abandoned as a mother of 2- and 4-year-old daughters.
“We’re still trying to navigate quarantines and stuff as the country seems to have moved,” she said.
She is one of millions of mothers in the United States who have faced a mental health crisis during the pandemic. So many mothers have been brought to the breaking point as they combine more childcare and housework with their own lives.
Everyone has been touched by the pandemic in one way or another, but mothers often have no place to escape and no time to take a break, said Dr. Ellen Vora, a psychiatrist in Manhattan.
Mothers, unlike their children, usually don’t have the time or space to go through a meltdown, said Dr. vora.
“When you have two to three years of pent-up pressure,” she said, “it’s very healthy to be in a community of other moms and have a big release in the form of a scream.”
Ms. Harmon said she had received an overwhelming response from other mothers to the meeting. Many older mothers told her that they always screamed alone in a closet.
But she says a new generation of moms has normalized the frustrations of their roles — leading to screaming in an open field.
Groups across Massachusetts have now invited Ms. Harmon to lead primal screams.
“The scream resonated for people because it normalized their anger,” she said. “It’s been very powerful and very healing.”