Championing Working Moms in Honor of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has been celebrated since the early 1900s and is an opportunity to honor mothers and their influence in society. At Essential, we recognize our employees are our greatest asset, and we are committed to supporting them in both their professional and personal lives. In honor of Mother’s Day, we sat down with two of our “comms moms”—that is, two members of our communications team who wear many different hats at work, but a most special one at home: mom.

We spoke with Blair Meadowcroft and Sarah Courtright to discuss the most rewarding and challenging parts of motherhood, how they assuage “mom guilt” and what Essential does to support working mothers. Happy Mother’s Day!

Blair Meadowcroft is the manager of digital experience for Essential overseeing all things digital across Peoples and Aqua. This includes websites, intranet, social channels, multimedia, e-mail and digital marketing. She has been with the company for more than five years, starting as the Electronic Media Manager for Aqua. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a Communications minor from Shippensburg University, and she is a new mom to Arden, age 7 months.

Sarah Courtright is the communications manager for Essential, primarily handling external and corporate communications and managing the team who oversees media relations and comms state support. She is relatively new to the company, starting her career here less than a year ago. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business & Marketing from Central Michigan University and has nearly 20 years of experience in the water and wastewater industry. She has three children, 5, 4, and 1.5 years old.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a mom? The most challenging?

BM: “By far the most rewarding is just being a mom — it provides more happiness than I could have imagined. Arden is a joy of a child—so happy and easy and hilarious! We love laughing back and forth at each other. It’s so much fun watching her grow and learn new things. As far as what has been most challenging for me, honestly, I would have to say my struggles with breastfeeding. I always thought this would be a huge part of being a mom and naively assumed it would come easily as it did for the other women in my family, and when I wasn’t able to, it was incredibly upsetting. When I later shared my story with others, I learned that many had struggles with breastfeeding, but no one seemed to be talking about it. Being able to have this open dialogue with other women experiencing something similar really helped me.”

SC: “The unconditional love is the best part of motherhood. My heart truly feels like it has exploded; with love, joy, pride… so many positive emotions. I didn’t understand how much love I could experience until I become a mom – it is the greatest gift. I have this innate desire to protect my children, be a better person and make the world a better place to benefit them. I think the most challenging part is when I have fallen short of my own expectations of being a parent. Parenting can be exhausting and messy. There are days where I could have practiced more patience, been kinder or handled things differently. I have to remind myself to give grace and do better tomorrow.

What have you learned from your children?

BM: “I learned to really stop and focus on what’s in front of me, put away all distractions and be in the moment. I love just spending time with and playing with Arden. I feel so lucky to be her mom and want to enjoy every moment I get to have with her, so I try to prioritize her when I’m with her.”

SC: “I love seeing the world through my children’s eyes: all of the wonder and awe, the learning and exploring. Their curiosity and observations have given me a refreshing insight and restored some magic in my world. My kids have truly led me to want to be a role model. They’ve taught me ways to be a better person.”

One of the biggest struggles for working mothers is the guilt – how do you handle mom guilt?

BM: “Having a baby changes how you are able to spend your time. The ultimate goal is finding a good balance, but it’s definitely a struggle. There is guilt associated with dropping her off at daycare, but I know she is well cared for, and it allows me to be fully focused on work while at work, and on my daughter outside of that.”

SC: “The best advice I received was to be present in the moment. The guilt comes from what you aren’t doing, so be present in what you are doing. Whether I am working late, folding laundry or playing with my children, if I can stay present on that single activity, it helps. You have to redefine your priorities. My family is the most important thing in my world, and that helps keep things in check.

How does Essential support working moms? Why do you stay here?

BM: “I have felt very supported by my manager and all who I have the opportunity to work with, and have been given flexibility as needed. I stay because I love my team and the role that we play in the company. From day one, I have had the ability to do things I like, and I’ve been invited to have a voice and a seat at the table. I am proud to work for a company whose mission I truly support, as well as the difference we get to make in our communities.”

SC: “Flexibility—working from home, allowing appointments, and understanding that we are people—parents—in addition to employees is huge. This is a demanding job; we’re on call 24/7 which can make it feel like there are times of imbalance, but on the other side there is understanding for family activities and grace for sick children and unexpected appointments. In 2022, Essential added parental leave, which is a fantastic benefit as it supports parents and provides precious family bonding time. I stay because I love the work we do to provide and protect Earth’s most essential resource. I feel a huge privilege and responsibility to the environment and the communities we serve. I love the team, the company mission and how communities thrive on what we do. I heard Chris Crockett say ‘It’s our job to minimize our footprint and maximize our handprint in the community,’ and that really resonates. Who can’t get behind that?”

What advice would you give other working moms?

BM: “Be prepared to give yourself grace. Your reality may be different from how you envisioned, but that’s OK. It takes time to get settled into a new routine and to get used to a new schedule and priorities. It’s challenging but so rewarding.”

SC: “You always lose when you compare yourself to others, so don’t. Be sure to give yourself lots of grace. Build a tribe and keep your calendar organized.”

What can society do to make it easier for moms to continue their careers? How can we best support them?

BM: “As a society, we need to refocus traditional roles and normalize dual parent working households. Nowadays, men and women both have work priorities and home priorities, and we need to recognize the role that each play.”

SC: “That is a great question. The world is not structured well for dual working parents. If you think about school schedules, doctor office hours and business hours in general, it doesn’t fit when both parents are working. As a result, one career usually has to take the hit to accommodate this impossible paradox. This makes having a successful career and being a successful parent feel mutually exclusive. How do we close the gap? It requires us to acknowledge that moms bring an incredible skillset that adds value to an organization versus being a weakness. Having partnership at home with equal distribution of tasks and parenting responsibilities. And in the workplace, having flexibility, equal pay and equal opportunities are important.

How will you be celebrating Mother’s Day?

BM: “I’m not sure what we will end up doing, but it would be great to see my mom and have all three generations together for my first Mother’s Day.”

SC: “Before I was a mom, I was a plant lady. So, it’s a tradition to visit a greenhouse and plant our purchases as a family. Plus, I hope to sleep in and enjoy a morning off!”

Thank you, Blair and Sarah, for playing such wonderful roles as our resident “comms moms.” You are great examples of working mothers, and we hope you feel supported and appreciated both at work and at home. This month, we’re honoring all of our employee moms and everyone who plays this maternal role in our families and society. Happy Mother’s Day!