What Freedom Would Like For Mothers in America

We’re truly expected to do it all, not complain, not have any resources—and then celebrate being an American? No, thanks.

Since I became a mom in 2022, I’ve struggled with feeling patriotic as an American. If I’m being honest, it’s been an ongoing internal battle since the 2016 election of Donald Trump.

I was at a pantsuit party in New York City where I was living at the time, anticipating an all-night celebration of the first female president—only to go home, silent, in shock and unable to grasp what was happening in my country. The city felt uninspired, lifeless and well, terrified the next day—and truthfully, I think I held my breath most of the four years he was in office. 

When my daughter was only a few months old, Roe vs. Wade was overturned on a summer day.

I was having a playdate with a new mom friend when the news alert dinged on my phone. I gasped, looked down at my tiny daughter, and immediately my eyes welled up with tears. Again, I was in disbelief—just like I was that cold November evening. I couldn’t believe my child was about to grow up with fewer rights than I had—than even her grandmother had. 

Now, my daughter is two and I’m about half-way through my pregnancy with her little sister. I’ve always wanted to have a daughter and now I’ll be a “girl mom,” and I can’t help but shudder at the thought of putting on red, white and blue to celebrate America. I refuse to put her in a sparkly dress with a flag on it that feels like it’s betrayed me. Betrayed her. Betrayed the future of women in the land that’s meant to be free—but is anything-but for mothers. 

I know I’m not alone—as fireworks light up the sky and the nation celebrates its ‘independence’ on July 4th, a growing number of mothers in America will find themselves grappling with feelings of disillusionment and disconnection from the patriotic fervor. 

The ideals of freedom and equality seem distant in the face of inequities, inadequate support structures and policies that fail to address their unique challenges and needs. This Independence Day, many mothers are reflecting on what true freedom would look like in America—and why they don’t yet feel it.

The current political climate in the United States has intensified these sentiments. Policies and legislation around reproductive rights, maternal health and childcare have left many mothers feeling marginalized and undersupported.

Leigh Higginbotham Butler, founder of Akina Connect, articulates this sentiment well: “For many women of color and Black women in particular, the present political climate and persistent racial inequities make it challenging to feel patriotic, particularly in the spheres of maternal health and reproductive rights,” she explains. 

The disparities in maternal health are stark: Black women face a significantly higher risk of pregnancy-related complications compared to their white counterparts, highlighting systemic racism in the healthcare infrastructure.

Moreover, the erosion of reproductive rights has further alienated many women, as unjust restrictions disproportionately impact women of color, denying them access to necessary health services and safe abortions. This lack of self-governance over their bodies has deepened the sense of exclusion from the core values of freedom and equality that America purports to uphold.

Erin Erenberg, CEO of Chamber of Mothers, an bipartisan advocacy group founded and run by moms, echoes this discontent, pointing to the neglect of mothers’ needs and voices. “Mothers are fighting a sense of frustration with current law and policies, and a frustration with our ability to create change as quickly as we need,” she says. 

Despite being a significant economic force, with mothers in the U.S. controlling over 84 percent of household discretionary spending, the lack of paid family and medical leave, widespread childcare deserts and an increasing maternal mortality rate highlight a profound disconnect between the contributions of mothers and the support we receive.

The frustrations of mothers have been further compounded by the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw nearly three million mothers leave paid work to shoulder the responsibilities of educating and caring for their children amidst lockdowns. This period underscored the undervaluation of care work and the disproportionate burden placed on women, a reality that was starkly highlighted when lawmakers failed to pass critical supports like paid family and medical leave and childcare infrastructure.

We’re truly expected to do it all, not complain, not have any resources—and then celebrate being an American? No, thanks.

Mothers envision a country where their needs and contributions are recognized, valued and supported by robust policies and practices that enable them to thrive both as caregivers and as individuals.

What Freedom Would Look Like for Mothers in America

From affordable childcare to societal support, here’s what could empower American mothers to thrive, not just survive.

Support for Maternal Health and Reproductive Rights

Butler emphasizes the need for increased funding for community-based programs that provide culturally competent care and support to Black mothers. Expanding Medicaid and private insurance coverage to include doula support and midwives would be a significant step towards addressing the disparities in maternal health. 

“We need to be active advocates for our own freedoms and hold those speaking on our behalf accountable,” she asserts. This advocacy is incredibly important—if not dyer—since limiting access to abortion has been shown to have a significant impact on maternal death rates, with numerous studies and real-world examples illustrating the grave consequences of restrictive abortion laws. 

The correlation between restricted abortion access and increased maternal mortality can be attributed to several key factors, including unsafe abortion practices, delayed medical care and the exacerbation of existing health inequalities.

Advocacy for such changes can be driven at the community level, where mothers can push for local and state policies that prioritize maternal health and ensure equitable access to reproductive services.

Comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave

Erenberg highlights the critical need for comprehensive paid family and medical leave that supports all family dynamics and care responsibilities. “Freedom for mothers would look like eliminating barriers to ambition and valuing care work,” she explains. 

Policies like the American Families Plan, which proposed paid time for various care scenarios, underscore the value of care across a spectrum of circumstances. As Erenberg summarized, this package provided paid time to care in a variety of scenarios: adoptive parents bringing home a new baby, care for aging parents, and care for self in the cases of loss or domestic violence. This plan also provided for universal preschool. 

“What we loved about this policy is that it underscored the value of care across a spectrum of circumstances and provided space for families to truly juggle the care work that every American will face at one point or another. It also didn’t presume care as a burden for a woman to carry alone,” she adds. 

Affordable and Accessible Childcare

One of the most pressing issues for mothers is the availability of affordable, quality childcare. The lack of accessible childcare options forces many mothers to leave the workforce or struggle with financial constraints. Plus, in many cities around the country, waitlists for reputable childcare providers are many months to many years long, leaving mothers to shoulder the responsibility of caretaking until a spot opens up. And of course, depending on your zip code, can cost thousands of dollars per month—per child!

Expanding childcare infrastructure and ensuring it is affordable would significantly relieve the burden on families and allow women to remain competitive in the workforce. 

Representation in Leadership

Increasing the representation of mothers in positions of power is crucial for driving policies that address their needs. The current underrepresentation of mothers in Congress highlights a significant leadership gap, Erenberg points out.

Encouraging and supporting mothers to run for office and actively participating in voting can help bridge this gap. Erenberg recommends moms get involved with initiatives like Vote Mama Foundation, which supports mothers running for office, are essential in this effort.

They discovered in their Politics of Parenthood Report, among the 541 members of the 118th U.S. Congress, just 37 are moms with children under the age of 18.

Only three of these moms are serving in the Senate, where they are outnumbered by dads of minors 7:1.

In fact, there are three times more men named ‘John’ in the Senate than there are moms of minor children.

This Independence Day, as the nation celebrates its freedom, many mothers in America are reflecting on the freedoms they have yet to fully experience. The challenges and inequities they face underscore the need for comprehensive policy changes and robust support systems that truly value their contributions. 

By advocating for maternal health, reproductive rights, paid leave, accessible childcare, and increased representation in leadership, mothers can work towards creating the country they want to live in and bestow upon future generations. 

For myself, for all women and mothers—but mostly for my daughters, I’ll continue being an advocate. It will be a lifelong journey towards true freedom and equality for mothers in America—fueled by the resilience, passion, and unwavering commitment of mothers to create a better future for all.

My girls, your girls and all girls deserve to have equal rights over their bodies, their career dreams and if they so choose, their families one day. 


  • Lindsay Tigar

    Lindsay Tigar is the co-founder of Mila & Jo Media, an award-winning journalist, two-time entrepreneur and mama to Josefine. She's also a parental leave certified executive coach. She's a frequent-flier, Peloton addict, and a coffee and champagne snob. Her friends are her family and her lifeline. Lindsay calls Asheville, NC home but spends much time in Denmark, her husband's home country.  Follow Lindsay on Instagram. and visit her website.

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