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Lives of Doctor Wives: The Sweet Life

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Sweet Life

Have you guys heard of the marshmallow experiment? It's the one thing from my freshman-year-of-college child development class that stuck with me, instead of, for example, something useful like how to navigate the way-harder-than-two-which-wasn't-actually-terrible-at-all threenager year, or what the appropriate response is when your child asks how his baby brother got in your tummy in the first place and this immature mother's first reaction was to blush and change the subject to anything else, literally anything.

I digress. The marshmallow experiment was created at Stanford about forty years ago. Children from ages three to six were offered a marshmallow, and then were left alone in a room with a promise that if they didn't eat the marshmallow until the test administrator returned, they would receive a second marshmallow. The test examined delayed gratification, and follow-up studies indicated that the kids who were able to hold out for that second marshmallow did better in life later on. Look it up. It's cool stuff.

I tried to go off sugar for a week a while back, and I lasted about six hours. I confessed my failure to my husband, Michael, who suggested we try it together. And do you know what? We did it. When I thought I HAD to have chocolate chips, he talked me into eating a banana. When he was craving soda, I encouraged him to drink milk. And we both, somehow, gave up late-night bowls of ice cream.

I'm not sure if Michael and I would have passed or failed the marshmallow test as children. Despite my near-crippling weakness for sugar, our life outcomes are good, so we might have done ok. But as his class is getting ready for their halfway party this winter (two-point-five years done! And...two-point-five years to go.  Not including fellowship), I've been thinking a lot about that lesson in child development 101: delayed gratification pays off, eventually. Someday, these years and years of studying and supporting and debt and stress and anxiety will result in a better prize than a marshmallow, that's for sure.  

And based on our own little sugary experiment, Michael and I are stronger together. When he's craving a shorter residency and better hours, I'll encourage him to remember what he loves about his field. When I see my friends flying out to vacation in Cabo, he'll remind me that we'll get there, and in the meantime, we can drive out to Kansas City for golden weekend if we want. And together, we'll get through it.  

(I'll confess, though, that we're back on sugar now, and I'm suddenly craving s'mores. With extra marshmallows.)



Blogger Mountain Mom said...

Good for you for supporting each other. I didn't last in the 'no sugar' thing either. Couldn't sleep from a head cold and took some Nyquil at about 1 in the morning the start of the challenge. Guess what Nyquil has in it?

September 4, 2014 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Mountain Mom said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 4, 2014 at 7:21 PM  

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