The Rise of the Warrior Mom

Forget the flowers. Send us indestructible Wonder Woman shields and Captain Marvel’s superhuman strength for Mother’s Day. We need it.


This year’s Mother’s Day ads should merit a collective eye roll for their out-of-touch constrictive portrayals of motherhood. The real-life daily pressures on moms are increasing, and the man sitting in the Oval Office is only making it harder to be a mom in America.

On our TV screens, however, the picture looks a lot different. We see flowers in soft focus, zoomed-in images of delicate sparkly jewelry and close-ups of cloyingly sweet perfumes—all positioned as the centerpieces of Mother’s Day. Soft. Floral. Delicate. Overly sweet smelling. That’s what our consumer culture is selling and buying on Mother’s Day. But we’re not buying it.

We aren’t pretty and pastel parents. We are Warrior Moms.

We have grit and persistence. We’re running for office like never before, and our votes helped to elect the most diverse Congressional cohort in history. (We funded our sisters running for office in record amounts, too.) We’ve also been the majority of people taking action and speaking out to protect policies like the Affordable Care Act—a force which, against all odds, helped save healthcare for 30 million people. (Twice.)

We’re tough and effective. We’ve become half of the entire paid labor force. We are 64 percent of breadwinners. Women, more than 80 percent of whom become moms, are the force that fuels our consumer-driven economy, and when more of us are in corporate leadership, the corporations make more money.

Moms change more than diapers. We’re changing the world. And we have a lot of work to do.

Being a mom is now a greater predictor of wage and hiring discrimination than being a woman—and moms of color experience compounded wage and hiring discrimination. In fact, moms with equal resumes to non-moms are hired 80 percent less often and given much lower starting salaries than non-moms. (Men, on the other hand, get a wage boost when they have kids.)

For every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers, Latina mothers are paid just 46 cents; Native mothers are paid 49 cents; Black mothers are paid 54 cents; white, non-Hispanic mothers are paid 69 cents; and Asian/Pacific Islander mothers are paid just 85 cents.

These numbers prove that gender justice, racial justice, maternal justice and economic justice are intertwined. One never happens without the others.

We have some work to do. Many moms love flowers—and that’s okay!—but more of us want and need equal pay for equal work, healthcare, paid family/medical leave, affordable childcare, an end to maternal mortality, fair treatment of immigrant families and other economic security and justice policies that lift our families, our businesses, our economy and our nation. (Policies which, by the way, many other countries take for granted and are eminently doable.)

A wave of warrior moms, of all ages and stages in life, are rising across the nation to win these policies—with our voices, our marching feet and our dialing fingers. Divided, we face discrimination; together, we are an indestructible force.

Warrior moms are rising because childcare now costs more than college, and because Black and Latinx families spend more of their annual income on childcare than anyone else. Warrior moms are rising to stop the inhumane and unfair treatment of immigrant families, including the separation of children from their mothers. Warrior moms are rising to save the lives of women dying in childbirth, a healthcare crisis that is particularly devastating for Black women. Warrior moms are rising to win paid family medical leave. Warrior moms are rising to advance gun safety so our children’s lives aren’t on the line as they go to school and out to play. Warrior moms are rising to stop police brutality and challenge the prison-industrial complex.

We’re winning, too. The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act was signed into law. The Affordable Care Act was saved from legislative repeal. We won a historic, bipartisan, $5.8 billion increase for the Child Care Development Block Grants. Trump and his cronies weren’t able to pass the Trump Tax Scam 2.0. The House passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. And as we head into 2020, nearly every Presidential candidate, Democrat and Republican alike, is at least paying lip service to family economic security policies like paid family/medical leave.

This Mother’s Day, don’t think fluff—think tough. And if you’re still looking for the right gift to mark the occasion, consider a superhero cape.


Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is the author of Keep Marching and Executive Director and CEO of MomsRising—an on-the-ground and online grassroots organization of more than a million people who are working to increase family economic security, decrease discrimination against women and moms and build a nation where businesses and families can thrive.