The Illusion of Fair

As I recall the months between July 1998 and November 2001, I remember a particular value that a woman tried to live her life by.

That value was Fairness.

That woman was my Mom.

I moved back to Fort Wayne the summer of 98, back to the home I spent most of my childhood living in.  A few months before I returned my Dad passed away.

Three years before moving back I became a divorced Dad and was living about an hour away, in the same community as my ex-wife and we shared parenting with the help of her parents.

But when my Dad passed away after receiving the news of incurable cancer a few months earlier, I switched my people priorities.

It was a huge struggle emotionally as to what direction to go.

My new family (wife and kids) had been my priority as a husband and Dad.

Even when divorce entered the picture, I stuck around fighting for joint custody as my kids Dad for the first 3 years.

See, I didn’t think it was fair that one person could end a marriage without the agreement of the other, but gave in when I saw no other choice.

But I also didn’t think it was fair for my kids to be stuck in the middle and lose a relationship with me, their mom or grandparents.

That’s why I stuck around, for the love of my 3 kids, wanting to create as much fairness in their lives as possible despite circumstances they were beyond their control.

And quite frankly, I was not sure what to do next except what I was doing.

Enter the reality of my Mom in the spring and summer of 1998.

She needed to move to a smaller place without stairs.

She used a walker and cane and literately would have to crawl up and down stairs to get from the main floor (where the kitchen was) to the basement (where the laundry and a bathroom were) or the 2nd floor (Bedrooms and another bathroom).

She wasn’t mentally frail, or aged.  She turned 65 in 1998.  But she had health issues including stress fractures in her legs that were related to the osteoporosis she had which were the last of several other health issues she had dealt with as an adult.

Being her one and only offspring, I felt an obligation to do what I could to help her achieve a move to a more reasonable place.

Looking back on this decision I made, I also know that I wanted a change in my own living circumstances and this was a temporary solution.

Was it fair?  For my kids, I doubt it.  I had promised them to stay with them despite their parents divorce.

For my ex-wife, I did what was fair and faithfully paid child support.

For everyone, I was also faithful in my involvement with my kids visitation.

Except one weekend in June.

It was a weekend that involved a trip to New England to attend my cousins wedding.  It was a trip my Mom wanted to take and I wanted to go too.  So we went.

In the pit of my stomach, I knew that despite all of the fun I was having visiting family and seeing a part of the country I had not visited since my teens, something wasn’t fair.

That something was due to the weekend I was gone was also Fathers Day weekend.

The first Fathers Day that my kids would spend without their Dad.

That wasn’t fair.

It has taken time and talks, but my kids and I have gotten through that and other life events.

Life isn’t fair, so we make the best of what we have at any given time.

You may wonder what this has to do with politics or government.

As I said at the beginning, I spent nearly 3 years sharing a home with my Mom, the last 3 years of her life and saw the importance she placed on everything being fair.  She wanted even distribution of things at Christmas time for her 3 grandkids,  Everyone got the same number of gifts or same amount of money spent on them, at least that was her goal.

Fairness is what our government officials say they are looking to create too.

Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Liberals, Progressives, Moderates, and Conservatives all have some area that they say isn’t fair and they want it to be more fair than it is.

Sorry, but life doesn’t work that way.

Not in this country, or nearly any nation on earth.  There will always be unfairness.

So do we give up?

No.

Please no.

But be very, very careful Mr/Mrs Politician and Bureaucrat.

When you play with the balance of power and fairness, there are unintended consequences.

And as I look at the example of my three kids and two stepkids now…

I see that each have adapted to whatever unfairness has occurred in their lives and adapted over time.

Which are lessons for all of us.

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