The nurturer, the warrior and the blogger
I was in the middle of writing tersely phrased demands for work when my four-year-old son interrupted me. “Mama, look at this!” He showed me a new toy.
“That is awesome, sweetheart!” I told him with a forehead kiss before he scampered off to continue playing.
When I turned back to resume writing my work email, I was struck by the dissonance between these two equally truthful, divergent aspects of myself: my gruff, brusque contract manager self and my nurturing, gentle one as a mom. Sometimes the two overlap, such as when someone behaves threateningly in my son’s vicinity, but usually the two exist in different times and spaces. The opportunity to see their contrast through this work/mom convergence left me feeling ponderous. Also grateful.
In flesh, people sometimes find me abrupt or prickly. This doesn’t bother me, because these are parts of who I am. This is all the more so given my last eight years of professional experience. Working in contract management means I have to listen well, communicate well and be amicable as often as possible, but also be extremely comfortable transitioning swiftly to no-holds-barred, unequivocal boundary-setting in cases of dubious behavior: That is unacceptable, and you must remedy it immediately for this discussion to continue.
Eight years in contracts have shown me there’s a reason there’s a no-waiver clause in most contracts. This paragraph usually reads something like:
A party’s option to not enforce any provision of this agreement in any particular case shall not be construed as general waiver of that provision by such party.
For example, let’s say Bob and Sue have a contract stating that Sue will pay each correct invoice within 30 days. By agreeing to allow Sue to pay one invoice within 90 days instead of 30, Bob’s not revising the contract. He’s just granting a one-time exception, which it’s his right to do.
The thing about exceptions is that some Sues are set up to push exceptions as far as they can, so that exceptions become the rule. Seeing enough of this why-not-120-days-this-time?! kind of pushing has made me inclined to set clear, hard boundaries earlier sometimes than is warranted. In contracts as in the rest of life, the earlier boundaries are made totally clear, the less boundary testing there is down the road.
Seeing this boundary-pushing has also made me better appreciate people who show no interest in forcing exceptions on others, but who focus instead on coexisting peaceably.
I’m uncomfortable with people who push too hard, too fast, but I’m also uncomfortable with those who are too charming too quickly. As safety expert Gavin de Becker recommends, charming behavior doesn’t warm me to a person but instead makes me ask myself, “Why are you trying to charm me? What are you trying to conceal?”
All this got me thinking about blogging. I feel fortunate to have found a community of forthright people who accept me at my most nurturing but also at my gruffest. My blogging community is full of people who don’t try forcing me to feel or think any one way, but rather offer their thoughts kindly and freely, allowing me insight into their worlds without confrontation or demand. That’s not to say there are no challenges or disagreements, but that even those are thoughtfully presented.
This acceptance is lovely, really, for a skittish contracts manager. I’m thankful for this community, including–but not limited to!–folks like the bloggers behind QBG_Tilted Tiara, the ramblings, Commentality, You’ve Been Hooked, I Want A Dumpster Baby, Transitioning Mom, The Lucky Mom, FiftyFourandAHalf, Peg-O-Leg’s Ramblings and Single Working Mom. Thoughtsy especially gets where I’m coming from right now, though she might disagree with the non stick figure parts of my next (pregnancy related) post!
I am honored to be part of this blogging community.
I’m the kind of person who finds something she likes and sticks with it. If I find a good dish at a restaurant, that is my dish forever. If there’s a horror movie playing at the theater, that’s what I’ll watch, whether or not it looks especially good. I will follow the same blogs and be content with that line-up nigh endlessly.
It’s easy to look at the community I’m already part of and call it great, which it is. But recently, I’ve tried peeking out a little further. I’ve found new-to-me bloggers who make me feel hopeful about the state of the world, such as: steady she goes, mybrightspots, Taste of Sherri, A Ph.D. in Blackgirlology, A Wild One Within and The Modern Teen.
Thus community grows.
As I reflect on the imminent last trimester of my pregnancy and what I hope for the next few months of my life, I know there’s a lot of change in store. I’ll handle it as it comes, and learn to navigate it until it is second nature.
I take comfort in knowing that some things won’t change too much. Foremost among these are my relationships with many people. Some of those relationships are with friends and family who know me in flesh and blood. Others are with those such as yourself who know me only through my words online, but who nevertheless support me both when I am skillful and when I am unskillful, when I am nurturing and when I am all sharp edges and corners.
This is my thanks to you. Thanks for being here, and thanks for letting me be part of your “here,” too.
I am grateful for you, whether or not I ever get to saying it just right. So grateful.