New research suggests working mothers are more hurried, more guilty, probably at work because they enjoy it as much as because they need the money, possibly making their children unhappy, but they are also happier.
I'm going to say a huge HURRAH to that. It's certainly true of me. Work isn't always perfect, and the pressure is sometimes intense. But I enjoy the professional side of my life. Do I enjoy it as much as the mothering side of my life? And if forced to choose, would I choose it? No, and no, of course not.
Perhaps it's because there's an important unvoiced aspect of work/life balance which is the importance of that balance. Work/life needs to be in balance, one shouldn't dominate over the other, but the two are parts of a whole, they support each other. Lose one and the other loses part of its semblance.
Two good friends of mine are annually told by their accountants and sometimes their husbands that they don't have jobs they have paid "hobbies". This is seen as something vaguely comical, like they are being taken in. As though work has no function unless it is linked to high and often disproportionate remuneration.
To me this completely misses the point. Call them paid hobbies or work, to many women, maintaining a professional self is key to the ability to main the "life" self, the ying/yang if you will not just of being happy people but of being happy and capable mothers.
Incidentally, none of these mothers has fat, unhealthy, layabout children. In fact, none of my working mother friends has more unhealthy children than any of my stay at home mother friends - who also incidentally work very hard at many unpaid tasks.