Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Delayed Gratification

In view of the debate ranging on Penelope Trunks "Brazen Careerist" (thanks for linking me, P!) I've sidelined a nice cosy Easter break ode to the sweet and simple things in life here in green and fragrant England, to tackle the controversy of what's best for kids and parents. Or at least, shouldn't that be the crux of an on-line lynching match between a young female 'brazen career-ist' and a father who suggested that, if she wasn't enjoying her kids, she should send them c/o his family in Ohio?! My, the vitriol! It seems quite a few raw and maybe even primordially instinctive buttons were pressed! Anyway my take on the issue involves: 1) BALANCE=HARMONY in most of life; 2) Our attitude shapes our reality; and, 3) there's such a thing as "DELAYED GRATIFICATION"!! ...Gotta love this expression! For all you guys (and women?!) out there thinking, squeeze certain muscles to delay orgasm, well that's it too, gives you an idea of the benefits! But I'm talking more life in general (sorry to disappoint!)

Not having time to check out the definition in the Oxford Dictionary (with 2 kids you learn to prioritise better than a CEO!), I reckon delayed Gratification's all about making sacrifices in the present in order to reap future rewards. Thing is, you've got to keep your goal in mind and the vision fresh, if you're not to get discouraged and give up prematurely and blow the whole thing. Many business start-ups I'm sure go through this process.

Example 1: We squeezed our credit to buy a house with huge redevelopment potential and a big plot. One day, we'll have a 6 bedroom pad with (still) a large garden, in a prime area of London. All well and good. BUT: For the moment, I live daily for my "Vision": whilst 'camping'(slight exaggeration) in a 1930's-styled home with dark, badly-arranged spaces, holes in walls, ants, and currently no money for these refurbishments! But, isn't patience the way to succeed in the end? - one step at a time, as Confucious said? (Think financial meltdown too, the mess we're in - instant vs. delayed gratification had a lot to do with it...)
And on the way, myself and hubby, we're learning important lessons in life and business: manage cashflow/learn to save/how not to WASTE/how to appreciate the present/how to have vision/how to be strategic/how not to rest on our laurels.

Example 2: My husband and I talk about his going to work for a couple of years in the Middle East (instinctively: ARGGGHHH!...). Watch this space! It's a serious plan. Again, not something I long for, admittedly, but if I think "delayed gratification"... I can focus beyond the immediate nervousness: we'd be able to save up enough to sort out house in Example 1; plus bright son's private school fees are currently paralyzing us rather, which would be all paid for (only if the schools are good in Bahrain, which apparently they are). There are other benefits, too quite apart from setting us up financially for the future: Why not cut the fear, slip out of comfort zone?, and use the 2 years to broaden the mind?/discover a different culture?/ Even open up opportunities for a new career for me (new environment, new contacts, etc?, less time doing boring chores...)

Example 3: Child-rearing is all about delayed gratification!! So here my posting goes full circle. Putting one's individuality and independence in the toy cupboard (and possibly one's career) and shutting the door for a few years or months, out of selfless generosity in order to make one's kids better educated/ happier/more stable/more creative, (add your choice in this space)...human beings in the long run. Not forgetting what the experience might do for the parents (I'm talking productive benefits here!)
But then again, it need not be forever, and, as my father (Grumpy Grandpa!) puts it: "Too much of Anything is good for Nothing!" You need balance, and the right attitude. The choice is individual. I never really wanted kids (type A personality) but they have made me a richer, more patient and more rational person. I've come to a natural hiatus, though, now (after 5 years) that's it's time now to learn where they end and I begin so that I can be the more balanced and happier mum they deserve, living out my potential as well as helping them live out theirs (hence this blog!) But I'm patient.... DELAYED GRATIFICATION IS KING! Blessings to you all, do comment!

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