The Lie of “Fairness” and the Distribution of Princess of Grayce by Theressa McMorris

The title for this blog has actually been on a “post-it” note on the back of my IPAD for probably 3 weeks. I woke up at 5 this morning with this blog on my mind, when it occurred to me that for the last five days I had fallen for the “lie of fairness”. You see, I was in a snit the last 5 days because I was being treated unfairly. We will get back to my “snittiness”.

The title for this blog mcame out of conversation that I had been having with someone whom, I think, anyone would say has gotten the short end of the stick. You would say, life has treated him unfairly. He sustained significant life-long physical damage based upon someone else’s error. That is unfair. I think we would all agree but this led me some questions that make me terribly uncomfortable. What makes something unfair? What if there is no such thing as fair? What if fair is a myth?

As a mom, I am often asked to distribute “fairness”. My daughter, Sarah Grayce, is the great monitor of fairness in our house. My husband and I are convinced she will work for some U.N. peace-keeping force someday. Because she has two older brothers, she often gets the short end of the stick. So I am asked to distribute fairness and sometimes I find that tantamount to impossible.


As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I am asked to do the same thing. I am asked to adjudicate right and wrong and then to pronounce judgment and punishment. (Thankfully, that is not my job. No matter how much people ask for it.) But on some level it is my job as a mom. So I struggle with what is fair. I struggle as a mom and as a therapist. So my daughter, Sarah Grayce, leads me to the answer.

When Sarah has been so horribly wronged by her brothers, we talk about using our words; we talk about fairness; we talk about responsibility for self and responsibility to one another in this little family. Then we find solutions…most of the time. There are some times that we don’t. Then Sarah and I talk about her name. I named my daughter Sarah Grayce. Sarah means Princess. Grayce obviously means grace. So I talk to her about distributing grace and considering it is her middle name, she thinks that’s cool. I explain to her that things are not always fair but that is where grace comes in.

So maybe fair is what we aim for but coming short of it; we find a greater gift of grace and forgiveness. In my work with conflicted couples, the wounded member often is seeking something that they actually cannot and do not want to find. She may be hurt that he had an affair. How can one possible distribute fairness in that mess. What they find in time, generally speaking, is grace and forgiveness. It is quite a journey.

Here is the real kicker. If everything was fair, I am afraid that I would probably have more problems. I would certainly have more speeding tickets. I would certainly have more people mad at me. I would probably not writing this column. If everything was fair, I think we might be paying $5 at the gas pump. Oh, yeah, that one seems to be closer to fair.

So back to my snittiness. I realized this morning that I had been in a snit for five days because I had been treated “unfairly” by a group of people. Let’s say I was for arguments sake. O.K. — AND. So what. So, I was treated unfairly. So, I have put more energy in than they have. So, they judged me harshly. So, I wasn’t given a chance. It happens. It will continue to happen. I have been and will continue to be unfair. This is life. I think I have wasted enough time being snitty.

I was sufficiently hurt. I have sufficiently processed it. It is time to be about the business of getting along with one another — offering grace and forgiveness. I think I choose today to be the administrator of my daughters name. I choose today to be a benefactor of grace and forgiveness.