Cooperative News

Celebrating the power of PEC’s working moms

Four of our working moms talk life, love and balance

This Mother’s Day, PEC celebrates a different kind of power: the power of moms.

A mother and son.
PEC Rates & Pricing Manager Natalia Mack with her older son, Sean.

Their energy is nonstop and renewable. Their hearts are perpetual motion machines. Working moms are both weekday champions and weekend warriors, and their ability to manage their many identities — mother, professional, partner, friend and self — make Superman’s Clark Kent costume change seem like child’s play.

To shed light on the marvels of this everyday heroism, four women at PEC opened up about the joys and challenges of being working moms — and how they balance the load.

Meet the moms

There isn’t one model of motherhood, and the four women interviewed for this story are proof. Their children range from a week-old infant to a 20-year-old who recently started as a PEC lineworker. One is a single parent. One has family down the street. Another woman’s relatives are in Alaska. They work in departments as diverse as Power Supply and Member Services.

But all four women agreed on a few key themes:

It’s all about balance

It’s no secret that motherhood is what PEC Rates & Pricing Manager Natalia Mack calls “a full-time job.” When your time and energy are on demand 24 hours a day, the greatest challenge can be finding a balance.

A woman and her three sons.
PEC Member Services Agent 4 Jessica Garcia with her sons Benito (a PEC Lineworker Apprentice 1A), Xzavier and Israel.

PEC Member Services Agent 4 Jessica Garcia in our Manchaca office — a self-described “not going to sugarcoat it” mother of three boys — was frank:

“Some days, you’ll want to cry,” Garcia said. “Motherhood is work. Once you’re a mom, it’s not about you anymore — you have a responsibility. If you come home and dinner’s not ready, you cook it. If your kid needs help with their homework, if you have to go to a meeting, you have to be there.”

Balance can be as elusive as energy or sleep. The women shared the ways they keep it together: carving out time for themselves, keeping rigorous to-do lists, planning ahead and crafting little lifehacks (“I know my oldest child is difficult in the mornings, so I start dressing him before he’s fully awake,” noted Mack. She also gives him bread rather than crackers in the car to avoid crumbs).

All the conversations circled back to a central idea: the importance of a support system, whether it’s family, a spouse or friends.

A woman with her teenaged son and daughter.
PEC Organizational Development Specialist Aline Milam with her teenagers, Lantz and HunterRenée.

“Having a good support network is huge,” PEC Organizational Development Specialist Aline Milam, mother of two teenagers, said. “If my daughter calls me in tears and I know that she needs me, and I can’t answer — as a mother, that’s rough. My only saving grace is that I can text one of my sisters and hope that they have a free minute in their work day to call her back.”

It’s all worth it

On top of the logistical challenges, the expectations that working mothers face — that they simultaneously be perfect parents and successful career professionals — compounds the stress.

“It can be a challenge for women to not feel guilty for having a career,” PEC Key Accounts Manager Dawn Southwell, mother of a 4-year-old and a 10-month-old, said. “Sometimes I see that other parents are able to go to more things than I can, and people make little comments — but at the end of the day, I feel like I’m setting an example for my kids.”

A woman and her family.
PEC Key Accounts Manager Dawn Southwell and husband with children Tripp and Emmersyn.

Serving as an example — proving that the balancing act of happiness in career and family is possible — is a source of fierce joy and motivation for the four women. Milam described the greatest reward of being a working mother as “having my kids see that it can be done.”

“To me, the biggest reward is a strong sense of fulfillment because I am doing what I love,” Mack said. “As a working mother, you feel accomplished, valuable at so many levels.”

For Garcia, the reward is in knowing that she provides for her children: “Everything they want, everything they need that I am able to give them, they have. I have no regrets — the time with your children is so precious. Those three little men at home are my number one.”

“When you’re watching your daughter play lacrosse and she makes her first catch, and you’re so proud — or when your kids say something really sweet or kind or intelligent. It’s just that moment,” Milam said. “You can go crazy the rest of the time, but you have those moments that make it all worthwhile.”

A supportive workplace is vital

The women praised PEC’s generous paid time off policy and, in some positions, the ability to work remotely, which allow them to be more present for their families. But they agreed that PEC’s family support runs deeper — it’s embedded in the work culture.

“The fact that my supervisor is also a parent, so she understands, is so helpful,” Milam said. “But PEC is so family-oriented it doesn’t matter who I’m working with, if they have kids or not; they genuinely care about my family.”

Garcia praised her understanding supervisors and coworkers, many of whom are also hardworking parents. She also appreciates PEC’s family-friendly cooperative events: “They allow us to come together as one, to get to know each other’s children and see how they’ve grown. We feel connected to each other’s families.”

“I think that if you have that family-oriented culture, then you’re more productive as an employee,” Southwell said. “Knowing that you have the ability to take care of issues at home if anything should happen — because your supervisor is understanding, because your work is flexible — frees you up. You can leave your worries at the door. Knowing that you don’t have to bring that in with you makes you more focused.”

Advice for the next generation: ‘It makes you stronger’

Despite the exhaustion, the stress and the daily struggle, none of the women would change a thing. Garcia — who opened her interview promising, “You’ll cry” — also laughed and promised, “You’ll get through it.

“It tests you, but it only makes you stronger. You manage, and you get it done,” she said.

“Don’t be scared” of the challenge of managing your work-life balance, Southwell said. “And don’t feel guilty. Your kids are going to be your kids. As long as you’re there for them when you’re at home, as long as your kids know that you love them, then do what makes you happy.”

Mack, who spoke by phone just days before the birth of her second son, urged women not to doubt themselves.

“As women, we don’t realize everything we can do,” she said. “We hold ourselves back, undersell our capacities. I see so many women not apply for jobs they’re completely qualified for because they’re afraid. But women have the ability to step up to the plate and get it done. We are built for greatness.”

She described herself as feeling invincible after giving birth to her oldest son, noting, “If there’s any time a woman feels like a superhero, it’s after giving birth.

“Do not underestimate your ability to multitask between many life roles,” she added. “Don’t be afraid to put yourself in the spot. In the midst of the fire, something rises up and comes out of you that’s so amazing. Know yourself, and throw yourself into it without fear.”

Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at PEC! Follow us this week on social media for stories from more of PEC’s working moms.