Friday, October 24, 2014

FAIR is Just the Place You get Elephant Ears - Day 20

Big family life has taught me a lot as a mom.  Some of the adjustments being responsible for 8 backpacks, 20 feet, and 10 heads of hair (well, 9 really ;)) have been bothersome.  Prime example is the beast I'm forced to drive.  It's been called the party bus...and other less flattering names.  Don't get me wrong, I really love what happens inside of's super fun to have room for the whole basketball team and I love road trips with my family all together in one vehicle.  But there's no way around the fact that's it's big and it's ugly.  Part of the deal when we bought it was that the purchase would have to include a really fabulous pair of boots for me, the driver, to off-set the ugly factor of my new wheels.  I like my boots, but the van's still just a evil by-product of having a big family.

Other necessary adjustments have made me a more focused mom and more certain of the essentials.  That is a blessing straight from God.   One of these has been a re-definition of  Fair.  Whether we speak it out loud or not, each of is forced by our kids to make daily determinations of how "fair" works in our families.  Lots of us fight a niggling sensation that we're giving someone a raw deal or worry that the label "Unfair" might rightly apply to us.  Horror - a mom's worst fear!

The word "fair" nearly paralyzed the fun, gracious part of me when I went from 2 kids to 4.  Suddenly my wallet and energy were often unable to say "yes" to as many things as I had before.  In obedience to the golden rule of  Fair my "no's" started multiplying.  "No, we can't get ice cream because I don't have enough money in my wallet for all of us."  "No, you can't get that awesome shirt on clearance because they don't have them in everybody's sizes."  No, we shouldn't rent that movie tonight because everyone isn't home and they might feel left out."   "No, I can't buy you basketball shoes because I can't buy everyone new shoes today."  The "no's" can go on forever and stop every shred of fun in our house as we pursue the Fairness Phantom.  That definition of "fairness" also makes you irrational.

One day, while my mouth was beginning to form one of those "no's" lightning struck my brain.

What if "fair" doesn't really mean even but instead means everybody getting what they need when they need it?

A new dawn of "yes's" began to open up to me as I imagined letting specific, individual needs and opportunities drive my answers instead of the overwhelming force of keeping track of turns and statistics. Our family life was re-born when we decided that "fair" in our family means that needs are met when they arise and resources are available.

It's revolutionary I tell you.  I've found that I can be a fun mom with a limited wallet and energy.  I've started to look forward to moments when I'm alone with one or two children and can unexpectedly pull through the drive through to offer them something that would be off limits when we're a big group.  There's delicious freedom in handing over what I've got rather than using my energy to parcel and divide.  And there's a beauty in a specific child being able to receive it all sometimes.

There's power in the redefinition of fair for the kids on each side of the "yes."  The child who receives learns to feel the warmth of blessing and practice gratefulness.  They also have opportunities to learn what it is to be a gracious receiver in the presence of someone else who is not receiving.   The child who waits and watches a brother receive can find satisfaction in knowing that their needs will be met as they come in the same way.

It's a fact of life we should be teaching our children, that "fairness" isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Fairness expressed in a quest for identical even-ness didn't work in communist Russia and it doesn't work in our families.  It's time our kids find out that FAIR is just a place to get really awesome elephant ears.  When we learn to be honest about our resources and intentional about applying those resources to each individual need, we teach our kids important life lessons.  And we also find ourselves in line for elephant ears more often!

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  1. Amen! don't have nearly as many as you but have one who thinks EVERYTHING has to be fair!

    1. :) Toe the line Momma! It's good for them to learn these lessons!

  2. Replies
    1. Yep, that's the one Craig Hall!! You can't remain anonymous here!!!


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