In which I ponder…delayed gratification



Long ago, when I first moved in with the boyfriend who was to become my husband, then the father of my children and then my ex husband, my mum decided she wanted to buy us a set of saucepans.

She embarked upon this with the same method and enthusiasm she has for other projects that involve the purchase of anything beyond a few florets of cauliflower. Much research was done, extensive meta-analysis of all things saucepan and many, many phone calls to me to tell me in enormous, death defying detail about saucepans she eventually did not buy.

I wanted to tear my hair out. Or possibly hers. Why did she have to make such a meal out of everything? Why could she not just go out and buy a set of saucepans like a normal person, rather than causing me to lose the will to live on a regular basis regaling me on the subject of badly constructed handles and poorly fitting lids?

In the end, we were presented with a box of really rather unremarkable saucepans. These saucepans were, apparently, the perfect storm of kitchen implements – just the right quality, just the right number of pans and at just the right price. Mum was pretty proud of herself and we were mainly pleased that we were never going to have to discuss saucepans again.*

This evening, some 26 years later, I made dinner with those same saucepans – which still have every single handle and lid in tact and look like they will last for at least another quarter century.

It’s got me thinking about the importance of taking your time to decide what you want and to make the right choices.

These single years have been lonely. There is no doubt about that. Divorce can be isolating at any time in life but experiencing it when you’re a new immigrant with no, or very few, real, reliable, longstanding friends around and no family, creates a new layer to feeling alone that can eat away at your insides.**

There were moments, early on, when I might have been tempted to go along with something – with someone – because I was so afraid of being alone, I would have been able to persuade myself to ignore the instinct that was telling me – ‘no….he’s not the one’***

But I knew they weren’t the one, and I also knew I wasn’t ready. Being alone – learning to be alone – is important. Especially after the (spectacular) breakdown of a long marriage. I knew I needed to spend some time processing what had happened, so that I could take responsibility for the things that I had done to contribute to it, and to get clear in my heart, as well as my head, about what wasn’t mine to torture myself about. I needed to try to understand – as best as you can ever understand the actions of another person – what had happened, so that I didn’t inadvertently repeat the same mistakes. And I needed to rebuild my self esteem so that I would know that I deserved better, that I was worthy of someone who was worthy of me.

It’s been a long wait.

But maybe, like saucepans, relationships are more likely to be high quality and lasting if you take your time, do your research and don’t settle for second best. There’s no rush. Because it’s starting to look like the old adage might be true – that the best things come to those who wait.

*of course that was incorrect. We had unwittingly started a never ending discourse on saucepans. How are those saucepans I bought you going? Did you cook this in my saucepans – the ones I bought? etc etc…

**when it would be way more useful for it to eat away at your outsides, rendering you sadly lonely but satisfyingly and alluringly slender

*** OK I still am. But I’m still not afraid enough…