I never thought I would become a technologist. I majored in Architecture, so working for an IT company was not an obvious path for me. I didn't know I would be a mother. I was an avid world traveler, and I constantly questioned compulsory motherhood.
But here I am today, working at Thoughtworks for six years, and raising two kids.
It was hard for me to restart my career in an entirely different field six years ago. And it was shocking when I realized being a mother in a work environment was so different from my old reality. I never had empathy for other mothers, I never heard their stories, and I didn't even think that different needs would come from this new reality.
But you don't need to be a mom to understand that.
Before I became a mother, working from home was the same as working in a relaxed and peaceful environment. Every time I had a break, I'd grab a cup of coffee and sometimes chill a little. Now, I spend every single break I have with my kids.
This is amazing from a mom's perspective. I love being around them, and it's important that I can meet their needs. But at the same time, I miss those peaceful, relaxing moments that are also crucial to a busy working life.
It's hard to find the right balance when everything is mixed up, and the feeling is that I'm always missing something.
If I had to pick one particular thing that changed my working life tremendously after my kids were born, it's the repercussions of sleep deprivation. It's been almost three years since I've slept a whole night. More recently, with my newborn at home, I have been sleeping short naps (one hour every two hours) all night long.
The impacts of not sleeping properly can be devastating. No wonder that sleep deprivation was a way of torturing enemies in many wars in our history. Can you imagine how bad this can be for someone who needs to focus and work?
These are just a few examples of how things changed for me after I became a mom, and because things were so crazy, I started to believe that mothers couldn't be good at what they did. One day, I started looking around to find other mothers who were successful at their jobs. And I have very successfully found many good examples at Thoughtworks.
Brazil's managing director Marta Saft is a perfect example of this. I am so grateful when I look up and see leaders who are also mothers. It makes me believe that it's possible to do what I want in my career and also be a good mother. I would like to see more examples like this, not only in our company, but also in our society.
Thoughtworks is a good place to be a mom
Overall, Thoughtworkers are super understanding. I never felt pressured or had to choose between my family and my job. For example, I had everything I needed to support my decision to breastfeed my oldest until he was two years old. And that was because my leadership was open to understanding and meeting my needs.
A more inclusive future…
Most of us grew up using language that, instead of encouraging us to notice what we're feeling and what we need, leads us to label, compare and judge. We learned to easily define and name "good or bad mothers". Because of this, a concept of motherhood (very far from reality) was instituted, making us believe that tiredness is synonymous with devotion, and suffering is necessary for maternal love.
The only way I see of really welcoming mothers into work spaces is to be open to listen to them and adapt to their needs. Safe spaces are needed to bring these conversations to mothers who have never had the opportunity to talk honestly about their feelings.
Companies, on the other hand, must invest efforts to adjust to these requirements. And all of this will only happen if mothers understand the mechanisms behind the patriarchal society, which conveniently sold us this image of a superwoman mother, made us believe that we don't need change, or that we don't have the power to demand it.
…and a better world
If you believe in a better world the same way I do, you will probably be thankful to know that I'm doing my best to raise kids who are respectful, kind, aware of social injustices, loving, creative and self-confident. Who knows? They might become our next national leaders! Or someone who you would love to work with, and that would help you grow. I, for one, am already growing a lot with them!
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.