Do you feel having children changed the way you work or the importance you give to your work?
Questions always arise. There’s a lot of judgment out there, either way, whether you’re a full-time professional and people think ‘How important is your family to you?’, or you work part-time and other working women judge you. At the end of the day, I think it’s a very personal decision, and people have to really listen to themselves and find out what truly matters to them. I think that this can also change over time. For me, right now, I know I need my job. I thrive in that. I’m too extroverted to be at home with a child alone. I’m too curious, I need the intellectual stimulus. That’s the way I personally function.
For me, as much as I loved the magical first months with my son, after the first 2-3 months of maternity leave, I got bored. But, and I will really make that point as it’s so important, I realized after talking to a lot of my friends, if you’re not passionate about your job, that’s a much harder trade-off to do. But if you love going to work, the trade-off doesn’t feel as painful. For me, I was so passionate about my job in Brazil, I loved my team, I loved being at work every day, it wasn’t hard for me thinking about going back to work, or to drop off my son at daycare for the first time. It was just the right thing to do and it felt like that was really good for him, too. I thought he would be exposed to other kids and to real life early on, that it would make him grow. At the end of the day what you must give to your child is quality time, that’s more important, I think, than quantity. People can think another way, and maybe that’s a way for me to justify my choice, it’s possible. But it’s a choice that’s mine, that feels right to me.
Soon I’ll have a second child, I don’t know how this will impact me. It’s a different job, a different city. Will I feel as passionate about going back? You can’t plan it. I saw it with some friends who were very career-focused. The day they had to drop off their child at daycare the first time, their world broke apart, and they had never expected that of themselves. You don’t know how you’ll react. I believe that it’s important to listen to yourself, and to stand behind your choices. Don’t let others doubt what your choices are. Others will ask questions, they will challenge what you chose. You have to feel comfortable with yourself.
I think for me, I love being a mom, but I know I wouldn’t be happy just being a mom. I have high expectations towards myself to prove that it’s possible to do that: To be a great mom and a full-time professional. I would love my son to grow up with a dedicated, loving, passionate mother, who is also a figure outside the family context, someone he can be proud of one day.
You’re a mom and a boss. Do you ever feel like you suck at being a mom or at your job? What do you do to tune in?
This is a very good question and yes, of course I doubt myself in either role, very often - they are after all intrinsically in conflict. I don’t know that I’m very good at tuning these feelings, or addressing them in a very conscious manner. My balance is sports. I do a lot of exercise and I know that it helps me ground myself and recharge. But it’s not exactly a spiritual activity...
I also find a lot of comfort in conversations, especially with people who have a very different reality from mine. It helps me to put things in perspective to remain aware that others have problems much more grand and unmanageable than my own. It helps me realize that what I deal with is so trivial, that I can do it. It’s a very weird way to gain optimism, but it does help me.
I’ve always found inspiration with people who have different backgrounds, often more challenging than my own - I see that in many of the friends I chose, the husband I chose. To me, it gives me strength knowing that other people have dealt with much harder things, and I learn tremendously from them.
Maybe this is also one of the reasons why I’m really into podcasts. This is another way for me to put things in perspective, to remind myself that life is so much bigger than my own reality.
My longtime favorite, which isn’t really a podcast, it’s a radio show, is ‘This American Life’, of course, which has basically become an incubator for so many other amazing podcasts. I think currently ‘Ear Hustle’ is one I’m most into - it’s made by prisoners at Saint Quentin State Prison, and it’s fantastic.