Aviator and mother-of-six Anne Morrow Lindbergh once noted that "by and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off." Today, when nearly 75 percent of American mothers with children under 18 work outside the home and still bear the brunt of household chores, Lindbergh's quote seems especially prescient.
In surveys, working moms who "do it all" say that time--not money, sex, or glory--is what they really need more of. The dedicated working mothers featured here are no exception, yet all are finding surprising ways to navigate the trade-offs, triumphs, and disappointments that come with raising kids and building careers. Here's how they're doing it.
38, Episcopal Priest, Rumford, RI
Several months ago, my daughter Lydia had a school dance recital. I knew I had an important meeting with my church administrators the same day but didn't realize both events were at 1 pm until I woke up that morning. At breakfast, Lydia announced, "Today is my dance recital!" When I told her I had made a big scheduling mistake, she burst into tears, and my husband looked at me like I was an alien. For 10 minutes, I was torn about what to do. But as my daughter sobbed, it became clear that this dance recital was the most important thing in her six-year-old world, and I needed to make it just as important to me.
I've been a priest since January 1999. My job is nebulous--even my family asks, "What exactly do you do?" Well, everything! This past Lent is a good example. Our church was planning a retreat; I had to write the Sunday sermon and deal with lots of administrative work; and several people in our congregation were dying, grieving, or hospitalized. I wound up working so hard for 3 weeks straight that I could hardly move, so I scheduled a light fourth week. Then I learned that a woman whose husband had recently died had taken a bad fall. I didn't make it to the hospital because my family needed attention, too. These are the tough choices I have to make on a regular basis.
I learned how to carve out time for my kids the hard way. I found out I was pregnant at the beginning of my last year of seminary, and I purposely stretched out my course work over 2 years to adjust to motherhood. Lydia was already 18 months old when I started my first job, but it still wound up being a lot harder than I thought. I was working a 50-hour week with only Monday off--typical for a priest. One afternoon, I was complaining to a friend, who said, "Of course you don't love your life. Look at everything you're trying to do!"