A few days later, my friend Cristina--fellow Mother of a Teenage Girl--messaged me to report that her daughter had remarked that "fair is overrated." Which made me think of a whole post about overrated things. Which I suggested Cristina write. Which she, being just that fabulous, ran with. Which is why you're looking at this list right now.
Thank you, Cristina and Jordyn. Don't take this the wrong way, but you are both very, very nice.
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The summer of 2016 was the first since 2005 that I've had an entire summer with my children and husband. When I started in public school administration in August of 2005, my son, Adam (AJ), was one month shy of turning four, and my daughter, Jordyn, was nineteen months. Since that time, I've had approximately three weeks with them each summer, and often it was interrupted.
In July, I learned I was going to have to have major surgery, which meant my mom (an angel in disguise) would be spending a lot of time with us. During one of our trips in the car, to who-knows-where because we did not travel last summer, we were discussing some topic of minor importance when Jordyn proclaimed, “Fair is overrated!”
I knew that my friend Elizabeth would appreciate this profound statement and shared it with her. She, not surprisingly, responded, “That would make a great article.” I initially thought, no, I do not want to write about how being fair is overrated. But then I quickly realized she meant that many things are overrated; write about that.
With surgery approaching quickly, I thought I would have plenty of time to write this article; after all, I would be bored and recovering. Ha! As I sat at my kitchen counter after taking my children to the bus stop for their first day of school, I had some uninterrupted time. Please note: this was the first time ever that I had been able to be involved in the first day of school with them. I was usually preparing for 800 other students to arrive on their first day, or I was having my first day as a classroom teacher myself (last year). My surgery allowed me to get up and cook breakfast and take them to the bus stop. And the opportunity to write this will be added to my little moments of enjoyment that I'll chalk up to "Mom’s list of important moments"-- which is not the same as my children’s!
It only seems right to begin this list with the one that started it all; the rest are in no particular order.
1. Fairness. After spending over twenty years in education, hearing my daughter say these words at age thirteen, and as the summer Olympics ended, was heartwarming. Life is not fair; this is a lesson all parents try to impart to their children but are never sure they understand why. I certainly did not expect to hear this from my daughter, who has attended three middle schools in less than a year and participated in multiple try-outs for club and school sports and whose brother started a new district as he entered high school and who also has tried out for multiple sports.
My children rarely received special recognition when they attended the middle school where I was the principal because, after all, the assumption would have been that they would have only received it because I was the principal. After years of training focused on building children’s self-esteem, plenty of experience with no-cut sports, and having our personal life totally upturned when my new superintendent offered to buy me out of my contract a year ago for no apparent reason, I can say this: fair is overrated. My children have both learned that in ways I never hoped they would. Yet, they have grown into such a mature perspective on life. They are becoming people I am confident will understand this life lesson well, and it will take them far in life.
2. Name brands. This is a two-fold issue. First, name brands and trends flood the market and add to social issues at school. I've always been a proponent in favor of school uniforms...having been a product of Catholic schools, clothes never played an issue in our days. Children can have many more pieces of clothing that cost less and look just as nice. On the other hand, many of the name brands are made with a quality that cannot compare, but our philosophy in the Eyre household is that we will buy what we know fits well, wears well, and that we can afford. TJ Maxx, Zulily and many other discount stores enable us to afford name brands. This also allows for our children to truly appreciate when they do get a name brand item, and they take care of it because they understand the value and the gift that it is.
3. Perfect parties. Both my husband, Mark, and I are educators, serving mostly the middle school and high school populations over our careers. As a result, I often thought that our children were suffering because neither Mark nor I have patience to add more children to our home on a regular basis, let alone plan the “perfect party." There were times that due to lack of time and energy our children did get great parties--that we paid to take place elsewhere. But it was never because we were trying to keep up with the next family. (I cannot use "keeping up with the Joneses" or "keeping up with the Smiths" because they are real friends in our lives!)
4. Planned mother/daughter or mother/son days. Due to the often limited amount of time I had available, I thought creating these days was so important--to add to the memory of bank of my children’s experiences. But I quickly learned this was more about me than them. Most importantly, I learned that unplanned spontaneity created the most fun, loving, memorable experiences. Stop trying to "create" and just try to enjoy the moments along the way.
5. Being in a position of power. It was never because of the "power" behind the job that I truly enjoyed my position as a middle-school principal. Instead, I loved being able to make a positive difference with students, teachers and parents. The power in the position was in the daily impact I could have. You have that opportunity in any job; it’s what you make of it. Make the most of being kind, positive, and a model of Christian decision-making.
"The power in the position was in the daily impact I could have. You have that opportunity in any job; it’s what you make of it."
6. Making a lot of money. Yes, there can be ease in how much money you bring home, but I quickly learned that the money I was earning came at a huge sacrifice: my family. My children often thought of my first home as my office and my second home as Meijer (our grocery store). I realized very quickly that we can be happier if we are living more moderately and placing a higher value on our time together.
7. Speaking your mind. One of my strengths--yet one of my weaknesses--is speaking my mind. I learned very quickly that not all people appreciate complete honesty. Complete honesty comes at a cost, so I have tempered my outspoken nature to be more positive and thoughtful when answering questions. I often turn my thoughts over to God in prayer: let Him be the revealer of the truth, not me.
8. Being social. Comparing yourself to others often comes with the more social you are. I craved interaction with others always. That came with a cost, though. Although I did not realize that I was comparing myself to others, being social can have that effect, and I was exhausted. Everyone has their issues, problems, etc. No one is perfect. I am much happier surrounded by my immediate family and those we hold dear. I certainly appreciate my introvert husband more than before and treasure our alone, quiet, comfortable time.
9. Mentioning plans, ideas, etc., out loud to your children. I have learned it is best to keep things a surprise. Kids hear an idea and hold you to it; they think it is a promise. Then, if it does not come into fruition, they are disappointed, and you feel like a failure as a parent. Life happens, plans change; let plans evolve more spontaneously...children will be more excited, and parents will enjoy them more.
10. Trying to do things by yourself. I started thinking about this article over a year ago, even before Jordyn's proclamation, and this item had a very different meaning then. At that time, I was focused on how important it is to have a circle of friends who will pray for you--I dubbed them my prayer warriors--because I could not face my life’s challenges without prayer, God, and my faith. These are still existent in my life, but they are more embedded. This fall though, this point took on a different kind of meaning. Our family lost my sister-in-law, Michelle, very unexpectedly. We needed so much help during this season, and it was a time when my outspoken nature was appreciated. I asked for the help we needed and said "no, thank you" to the things we did not need at the time. Friends and family who did not know how to help were given the direction they needed, and I was given the assurance that lessened my stress.
On the other hand, these are some of the things I've learned to treasure...
2. Quality time.
4. Priceless time in the car with each child individually.
5. Planning and preparing meals.
6. Completing projects.
7. Reciprocal, quality friendships.
9. Keeping my mouth shut: nodding, smiling, and praying for God’s guidance.
10. My faith, especially my alone time with God as the sun rises or sets, as I soak in the fields around my home in the country.
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In case you're just dying of curiosity, here's the link to that Parent.co piece. But a word of warning/mom-vent alert: if Mother's Day is your favorite holiday, you'll probably want to skip this one.
This post may have been shared at some of these blog bashes.
Photo credit: Billy Frank Alexander