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Celebrating Working Moms: A Delicate Balance

The recipients of the 36th annual Outstanding Mother Awards each gave poignant acceptance speeches on what it means to be a mother today.

The recipients of the 36th annual Outstanding Mother Awards each gave poignant acceptance speeches on what it means to be a mother today and how they attempt to juggle high-powered careers with motherhood.

This year’s honorees were Jill Granoff, chief executive officer of Vince; Mary Dillon, ceo of Ulta Beauty; Norah O’Donnell, cohost of “CBS This Morning” and Brooke Shields, actress and author. The luncheon, which was held Thursday at The Pierre hotel in New York, was hosted by Mindy Grossman, ceo of HSN Inc., and benefited Save the Children’s U.S. programs. Laurie Dowley is chairwoman of the National Mother’s Day Committee.

Dillon, a mother of four children, dedicated the award to her mother, who had six kids of her own, “mostly for not letting the inmates run the asylum.” When she’s asked how she makes the balancing act work, she replied, “I believe you have to celebrate your choices.” Dillon feels there’s a lack of flexibility that still exists in the workplace today that can create real obstacles for working mothers, and she’s been working to make improvements. To be a successful economy, all people who want to participate should be able to do so, she said.

Granoff offered advice to the working moms in the room: Make time for the important things, and let go of the small stuff. Marry well, and find a partner who will share equally in parenting and family responsibility. Build a strong support network and hire the best team possible. She also said it’s important to have a positive attitude and lead by example. “My mom [who attended the event, along with her husband and two sons] is my greatest role model. She taught me to work hard and to raise the bar, to be humble and kind to everyone and be grateful for the things I have,” said Granoff. She said she’ll never forget when one of her sons took the memory chip out of her BlackBerry so they could enjoy a family vacation. “That was a strong message,” she said.

O’Donnell, who has six-year-old twins and a five-year old, said, “Mothers are the most important voice in the world.” She pointed out the statue of Atlas holding up the globe at Rockefeller Center and said, “Why is that a dude? It should be a woman....Everything we are we owe to our mothers.”

Shields, who entertained the crowd with several self-deprecating parenting stories, said she shared the honor with her mother and her two daughters. “Some of us were never taught to be children, and none of us were taught how to parent our individual children. You show up and it never feels balanced. It feels more like ‘Riverdance,’ on sand,” she said.

Prior to the luncheon, Shields was asked what she hoped her two daughters would get her for Mother’s Day. “I don’t want them to get me anything. I want them not to fight and to tell me they love me,” she told WWD. Shields said she was incredibly honored to receive the recognition, admitting, “I feel frazzled most of the time.”