No spare time means time well-spent for Ironton mom

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Despite recently receiving the highest award in her career field, Jeri Fields will say that her career is not her highest priority.

"If you don't make the time with your family now, you will never get it back," she said while making Halloween cookies with her daughter. "Three months ago, my mom died. She's the one who taught me that. Life is definitely too short."

Fields, an Ironton resident, an assistant district manager for the Social Security Administration and wife and mother, has managed to find a balancing act between her career and volunteering her time in the several activities involving her son Jerimy, 12, and Megan, 9. She transports four to five children on field trips throughout the year and is an assistant Girl Scout

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and Cub Scout leader. She was recently awarded the Commissioner's Citation Award, the highest award a Social Security employee can receive.

Besides spending the time with her children, car rides have been especially fun for Fields.

"If you have a bunch of girls together, they'll do cheers, sing songs or talk about boys," she said. "That scares me. My daughter is 9 years old. I'm not ready for that."

"I do not," Megan yelled in response.

An understanding employer is one reason behind Fields' balancing act, something she acknowledges many other parents do not have.

"My employer understands that family is the most important thing. If nothing major is going on, I have no trouble getting off," she said. "I'm lucky that way."

At her children's schools, she is usually not alone. Jerimy goes to St. Joseph High School and Megan attends St. Lawrence. These small schools, she said, have several other involved parents and they work well with one another, as well as with the students and teachers.

"It's definitely worth every penny I pay," she said. "Most of the kids know each other and we all get to be like family."

Involvement with scouting, she said, is another major positive for Fields' family. Her husband Shane, a pilot, is a Boy Scout leader.

"It's excellent for kids," Fields said. "It's wonderful. They learn respect, morals, leadership, survival skills … My son never thought he would be a patrol leader, and now he's a senior patrol leader. They gain confidence, and they make a lot of friends."

Fields said she dreads the day when her son may progress into high school and decide he does not want Mom around as often. However, that should not happen any time soon. Her son is a regular Quiz Bowl participant and he was upset one time when she missed the Quiz Bowl.

Sometimes, her schedule has been trying. Her daughter is involved in cheerleading and Fields once had to miss a scouting function as a result. The children both have homework to get done in the evenings, too.

"I have no time to myself," she said.

Nevertheless, Fields and her husband finally had the opportunity to spend some time together not very long ago, even if it was for business purposes. When she was awarded the Commissioner's Citation Award, she and Shane took a trip to Baltimore to receive it. It just so happened that it was the same time as the couple's 11-year anniversary.