A Will to Work
Ask Carol Evans, the CEO and president of Working Mother magazine, and you'll hear that working motherhood is often misunderstood and unfairly bashed. Her anger over the negativity she's encountered resulted in her recent book This is How We Do It: The Working Mothers' Manifesto. The book includes accounts from Evans and other women as well as the results of Evans' "What Moms Want" survey of 500 working mothers nationwide, which reveals that nearly 80 percent of working mothers say they feel fulfilled.
"Twenty-six million mothers in the United States today work full- or part-time," says Evans. "We raise strong and happy kids, fuel the economy, earn money to keep our families safe and secure, and accomplish numerous important tasks in a day at work. That's not to say there aren't a lot of challenges and stress—there are—but moms are not giving up their personal joys, professional ambitions, or emotional well-being in the pursuit of work/life balance."
So what's the secret? "We do it with old-fashioned elbow grease, with humor, with sleepless nights," Evans writes. "We do it with the help of family and friends who pitch in, with great babysitters and caregivers, with husbands who learn how to support us (or not!)." She adds that working women cram more into the day than "should be humanly possible." "We do it by finding confidence in our own choices. And, increasingly, we do it with the support of our workplaces," she writes.
Like the majority of women in the "What Moms Want" survey, the women interviewed for this article report that in addition to working outside the home for financial reasons, they receive great satisfaction from their careers, which ultimately plays a role in helping them achieve the balance they seek in all facets of their lives.
"I'm happier working than if I wasn't working. I'm actually a better mom and a better wife, and probably a better employee," says Mary Stewart Lewis of Chattanooga, Tennessee, from her cell phone as she and her three-year-old son drive home from a baseball game outing with clients. This Bell South corporate saleswoman says work nourishes her self-esteem.