As mothers and mother figures are celebrated in many places on this date, I was challenged to reflect a bit about motherhood and work.
Why? I became a mother just over a year ago and — bare yourself, a cliché is coming — this is the most challenging and the most rewarding job I have ever had.
Motherhood is fraught with challenges. One of them is finding the balance between ambition, desires and commitments in both personal and professional areas.
Women are still a small fraction of the technology workforce and, for many years, motherhood has been a factor in the development of a male-dominated industry. It was seen as a setback for productivity and has compromised female career progression. As the tech world struggles with the lack of resources, it can only thrive in the modern world by developing policies for diversity and inclusion.
Besides this context, this article is not about giving opinions on parental rights and their legal frameworks. And for the sake of this exercise, I’m assuming that having rights and being able to use them is the default.
This is about places where people come first. This is about empathy.
You cannot have it all
It’s common to set unrealistic expectations about parenthood and struggle when trying to reach standards of perfection while comparing ourselves to others and coping with judgment and pressure from society.
Unless given the gift of omnipresence, parents have to make choices. Time is limited, and so is energy, and it’s hard to split them in a fair way.
The overwhelming feeling of juggling between life and career makes you often wish you could offer parenting as a service to your children. Ask them to upgrade their subscription to premium so you can have more time for them, or to downgrade to freemium so you can have some extra time to meet that deadline.
My take is that children have a lifetime VIP subscription. So, work has to adjust until the balance is reestablished in a scale for priorities.
Returning to work after maternity leave can be a daunting experience. The responsibility to ensure a smooth re-entry should not solely fall on new parents, as they need resources, support and time.
Long gone are the pre-pandemic days when the situation below was so special it made it to the news worldwide. Today, companies are better equipped to provide accommodating environments. Flexibility is key.
Everyone’s experience is different, so flexibility translates into something different for each person. That is why working in a people-first company allowed me for an easier transition, by taking advantage of working from home with flexible hours.
But my path towards work-life balance is not only about flexible schedules. A culture of trust and transparency allows boundary-setting and self-empowerment. A culture of empathy and collaboration makes people a source of good life for each other.
These are not nice-to-have features, these are deal breakers in a competitive tech world where people increasingly tend to prioritize healthy work environments that lead to a healthy work-life balance.
I am quite aware that I am writing this from a place of privilege, in an industry that has been leading an inclusive mindset, with so many more options than other industries.
There is this conflict that might drive us through the guilt lane, no matter the choices we make. But it’s way easier if we can ask for help, seek support, and set boundaries and realistic expectations.