Will You Still Love Me When I’m No Longer Young and Beautiful?

I’m not gonna lie to you, Marge. I think I’m beautiful. It sounds so wrong to say it, but I have eyes. I can look in the mirror. (I won’t kid myself and say what I really mean is that I’m beautiful on the inside. We all know I am the vain, flighty sort.) Sure, I’d look much better if I made any sort of remote effort to dress well or wear makeup, but I am really far too lazy and practical.

I used to tell Hapa Papa all the time that I was the better looking half of the relationship. He would retort, “For now…

Don ‘t all fight for him at once, ladies. He’s all mine.

Because although it may not be objectively true, it certainly is culturally true. (The only thing I’ve got going for me is that I’m Asian so I should age well. But Hapa Papa is half Asian, so it really could be a toss up.) After all, men allegedly just get better looking and more attractive as they grow older. (Personally, I think the thicker bank account has more to do with this “attractiveness,” but I digress.) Women, on the other hand, do not. Apparently we shrivel up and turn into desiccated old-lady husks as soon as we hit twenty-five.

Sometimes, I really despise American beauty standards.

Anyhow, I bring this up because a few weeks ago, I heard Lana Del Rey’s song, Young and Beautiful, on So You Think You Can Dance. I know I’m the leaky sort anyway, (from many parts of my body – but I blame that on babies and hormones. Too much?) but I teared up. I found the chorus particularly sad, lonely, and true to the insecurities we all have from time to time.

Will you still love me
When I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

– Young and Beautitful, Lana Del Rey
(You can find the full lyrics here.)

I initially heard it as more of a woman desperately trying to convince herself that the person she loves will still love her. But perhaps it is more the quiet declaration of a woman confident in her lover’s long-spanning love. I don’t know. Personally, I tend towards the cynical, but that’s a different topic for another day.

What this song really does, though, is make me feel sad and melancholy.

I think of Fiddler On the Roof’s song, Do You Love Me?

I remember the vows people make when they marry – to love and cherish the other person for better or worse, until death do they part – and that these vows are supposed to be the answer to the poignant question, “Will you still love me?” And yet, the question still has to be asked because in our American culture, people are disposable and vows aren’t really all what they used to be. 

I think about infidelity and how people always ask if the other woman is younger and more beautiful as if that’s a valid reason to leave a wife. 

I think of Hapa Papa and how I was a little dismayed after having Cookie Monster because my stomach got all poochy and my body was a little lumpier than before and how Hapa Papa told me he thought I was beautiful because my body grew and birthed Cookie Monster and wasn’t it worth it to have him even if my body had changed?

So is it any wonder that the song stirred up a longing to be loved that deeply and steadfastly? I’m just so grateful that I am.

Here’s the song for you to enjoy. I’ve also included the video for the dance. I won’t tell if you get something in your eyes.

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“They look like good, strong hands”

There has yet to be a dead horse that Hapa Papa won’t beat and this quote from The NeverEnding Story is merely one of them in his repertoire. He takes secret (well, not so secret anymore) delight in making me cry just from saying these six little words, “They look like good, strong hands.”

GAH.

I can’t even fully articulate WHY hearing these words from Rockbiter chokes me up. Before Hapa Papa is even halfway done saying it, I am already yelling at him to stop it already. It’s just. I can’t. Blergh.

It’s just so sad. I think of my kids and failing them utterly regardless of how hard I try and them slipping away. I think of all the horrible tragedies that could befall them and I feel so small. So powerless.

It perfectly encapsulates my terror at all the things in the world that I cannot (and perhaps, should not) protect them from. It’s the saddest scene in the whole movie.

Oh wait, it’s not the saddest scene in the movie after all. It’s tied with Artax in the Swamp of Sadness! GAH^2!!

Now leave me be. My entire face is leaking.

Protecting Your Family: Money Series Pt 3

Sometimes, in the midst of nursing Baby3 or holding Gamera or staring at Cookie Monster, an insidious sliver of fear sneaks in and attempts mightily to dampen and ruin the joy of having my children. Sometimes, it is a nameless, general fear of suffering such as thoughts of my kids getting cancer, or getting hit by a car, or abused, etc. Other times, it’s a fear of my own death or Hapa Papa’s and that our demise will cause suffering to our children. (Yes, I know. My brain can be my own worst torture device.)

Once, when Cookie Monster was around fifteen months old and we were re-sleep-training him, he was crying super hard from his room. As any parent who has sleep-trained before knows, listening to your precious baby scream bloody murder is utterly horrible. Of course, I let him cry but my sadistic brain forced this scenario into my head: What if someone came into our house and murdered Hapa Papa and I and it was a weekend so my mom wouldn’t swing by our house until Monday and Cookie Monster was stuck in his room because of the gate and we were dead and covered in blood and he’d be crying and starving and thirsty and surrounded by our dead bodies for at least three days until my mom came by and it warped his brain and he turned into Dexter?

Hapa Papa woke up to me weeping in bed and Cookie Monster crying in his room. He thought something horrible had happened (something horrible did happen – albeit fictionally) and when he found out why I was weeping, he just shook his head sadly. I told you. I’m crazy.

Anyhow, two things bring me comfort as I teeter on the brink of hysteria obsessing over such happy occasions.

1) Statistically speaking, the odds of something happening to my kids or my husband and I are very slim. After all, the majority of people that I know of made it through childhood mostly in tact and live relatively normal, normally allotted suffering-type lives. So, just playing the odds, everything will be fine.

2) I beg God to be merciful and ask for more faith that no matter what happens, to believe and cling to the hope that God is good and will take care of me and my family and loved ones regardless of circumstances. This is very difficult so often, after praying, I resort to Method One of playing the odds. I know. I have such little faith.

These two courses of action are all mental and usually helpful in the middle of the night (which is when these fears sideswipe me the most). However, they are very impractical in terms of daily living. Thankfully, I am a financial advisor and though I am slow to take my own advice in the more morbid areas of my profession, at least I know what to do.

So, here are some steps I’ve taken to financially protect my family in case something happens.

Disclaimer: I am a financial advisor and own a financial advising firm with my mother. I am not being compensated by any entity or company for the following information. I am ONLY explaining what I do for my own family. If you should so choose to take this advice, please realize that it is not customized nor tailored for your specific situation. I am not dispensing personalized advice for you or your family. I am not responsible in any way, shape, or form if your investments rise or fall due to market conditions. YMMV. You have been warned.

1) Get enough life insurance. What amount is enough? That depends on whether you have kids (and how many), a spouse who works or stays at home, your spend rate, etc. For us, we took out approximately 10x Hapa Papa’s earnings on his life and 5x his earnings for my life in a combination of term and permanent insurance. We took out insurance on me even though I don’t work because while I may not bring in income, I do provide a service of monetary value (eg: childcare, house cleaning, etc.).

We got a combination of term and permanent insurance because although it is cheaper to just have it all be term insurance, we realized that term insurance is like car insurance: once you stop paying, you have nothing. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have term insurance (or car insurance), it just means that you’re paying for something that admittedly, you never want to use, but once the need for it passes, you have no actual asset. So, the permanent insurance, although it is more costly, at least builds up as a monetary asset. Plus, if the need ever arises, we can “borrow” from the asset.

We also split up the total amount insured on Hapa Papa into several chunks. (eg: Instead of buying one policy of a million dollars, you buy two policies of $500,000.) We did that for two reasons.

a) In case we can no longer afford the payments on insurance, we can drop one or more of the policy amounts but still be covered with life insurance – albeit at a lesser amount. This is particularly important because we are young and healthy now, so our premiums are much lower. If we only had ONE large policy and could no longer afford the payments, we would have to drop the entire policy, then re-apply when we are older and perhaps LESS healthy – thereby, having higher premiums for less insurance.

b) In the case that we get older and no longer need as much insurance because the kids are grown or no longer under our care, we can drop one or more policies without having to re-apply for a smaller amount (for the same reason as above).

2) Get a will and living trust (as well as Power of Attorney, Health proxy, etc.). The living trust will help prevent our assets from going into probate (as long as they are titled in the name of the trust) and being tied up by the courts. It will also help us avoid some taxes and make the management and division of our assets clear and well delineated. The trust provides for the guardianship and financial assets for our children in case we both die. This seems MOST important to me since my children are young. However, obviously, the document will still be useful when they are grown.

One of the most important aspects of our trust were the disinheriting instructions. I wanted to make sure under NO circumstances was my father, his mistress, or their children could have any possibility at inheriting our assets or children. I realize that in order for there to be any chance of my dad getting my assets or kids, multiple branches of both my and Hapa Papa’s families would have to be wiped out, in which case, we have bigger problems than inheritance issues, but I believe in being prepared.

3) Get adequate umbrella insurance coverage. If you own a business or home, it helps to have this just in case some litigious-happy person gets injured (physically, mentally, emotionally, psychically) while on your property. While one can hope the people you invite into your space aren’t the suing type, as they say, “Hope is not a course of action.” Indeed, that is good advice in most life situations.

4) Get disability insurance. Whether through your work/employer or through  a company like Aflac, it’s a good idea to have some sort of disability insurance. You are more likely to be disabled than to die so, you know, it’s good policy to have it. (See what I did there?) That way, you’re not just running down your savings, you have 60-80% of your income coming in.

5) Make sure all your beneficiaries are up to date. This is pretty important. I am embarrassed to say that until we finally got our living trust done last month (it took me three years and three kids to finally get this taken care of!!), I hadn’t reviewed our beneficiaries since I opened our accounts. Hapa Papa had some of his IRAs going to his father – who passed away almost four years ago! I had some of my accounts benefiting my brother and my mother. Needless to say, I changed that RIGHT AWAY. (It’s all going to be mine, MINE, MINE!)

Anyhow, these are the things that we are doing to protect ourselves financially. Please note that most of these processes are time intensive (eg: getting health exams for life insurance, noting all your assets and accounts for the living trusts, etc.) but totally worth doing. You don’t want to have your family hung out to dry just because you were too lazy to carve out a few hours to get your financial house in order.

Incidentally, because I was so freaked out about the possibility of Hapa Papa and I dying while Cookie Monster was trapped in his room by himself, I began to run through scenarios of how we could prevent it from happening. I thought, perhaps I could call/text and check in with my mother every morning and evening so she would know we were still alive and didn’t have to run to our house and check on Cookie Monster.

I know this sounds entirely insane – and rightly so. However, if we didn’t have life insurance, living trusts, and etc., I really would be insane. If you don’t have this stuff squared away yet – get to it (even if you don’t have kids). Don’t leave a financial mess for your loved ones to navigate through. Do every one a big favor and get your shit together.

Show Me How Big Your Brave Is

A lot of people seem to think that just because I’m a chronic over-sharer and have few problems speaking my mind that I am brave. As much as I’d like it to be so, it’s not true. I am a constant TMI person because I have very little shame in areas that many people are self-conscious about. I don’t really care about modesty, bodily functions, or even outrageous opinions.

In fact, this extreme extrovert persona is just that – a persona. I’m not really like this In Real Life. (Or at least, I try not to be. It would get old real fast.) I’m actually a really wounded little girl inside. Please love me. LOVE ME NOW! (Only kinda kidding.) All this bravado and shit-talking, well, that’s my “idealized self.” I mean, it’s easy to be full of sass when no one is actually in front of me and giving me guff. Who doesn’t want to be like the heroes and heroines on TV and in movies who always have a wise-crack at the ready?

Truthfully, it’s not hard for me to be outspoken because that is my natural tendency. It might seem brave to be broadcasting my thoughts to the world in this forum (you know, due to my million readers and all), but I’ve never been prone to stage fright and am often an attention whore. Perhaps for an introvert or someone less self-centered, the things that come out of my mouth are hard to say. But because my internal censor is often broken (usually to my detriment), it really has never been a problem. (Hapa Papa often says that my mouth writes checks my body can’t cash.)

In reality, I am quite the coward. It took me four years to realize that I hated being a Microbiology major in college – and by then, I only had one quarter left so I might as well finish my degree. What a waste of four years of education that was completely paid for by my parents. It took me nine years to tell my mother I hated being a financial advisor. That’s almost a DECADE of living a life that I hated and made me miserable.

One of my biggest regrets in life was how I ended the relationship I was in before Hapa Papa. I basically forced this poor man’s hand to give me an ultimatum because I didn’t have the balls to end it properly. I dragged him along, making him hope that I would stop my quarter life crisis and go back to loving him when I had already given my heart to another. I was too chicken shit to break up with him because I didn’t want to leave a sure thing (we were thinking very seriously of getting married) for something that was a gamble (Hapa Papa).

Even now, with this blog, I am constantly weighing what I have no problem sharing and things that are important to me but am afraid to write. A lot of times, I tell myself it is because I don’t want to risk publicly exposing the rest of my family (such as my mother) because even though it’s part my story, other people that I love are also involved and it may be even MORE of their story.

It took me more than twenty years to finally tell my mother that her asking my brother and I to pretend and ignore all my father’s problems actually contributed to him never experiencing any consequences of his actions. TWENTY YEARS. Twenty years of lying and willful ignorance, of pretending to be someone that I am not just to protect a man who is not worth protecting. Two decades wasted on a man who never cared about anyone other than himself, who carelessly broke the lives of my mother, my brother, and myself (not to mention others in his family).

After thinking it over, my mother told me I was right and said my brother and I no longer had to pretend. I waited five days before I told my father he was dead to me. My mother was livid. I was finally free.

Twenty years. Two decades. That’s almost two thirds of my life!

How much more of my life am I going to waste being afraid or hiding my true self because I am fearful of disappointing or hurting my mother? (That’s usually the primary reason.) How can I teach my kids to be brave and courageous if I, myself, am constantly hiding? Do I really want my children to give me a false version of themselves because they are afraid to disappoint me? Their mother? Who will love them no matter what?

That thought makes me unbearably sad.

I’ve decided that I want to be brave. To be someone who is not afraid of disappointing my mother. (And it turns out she doesn’t mind me not wanting to be a financial advisor. Just like she didn’t mind me not wanting to be a doctor. She is made of sterner stuff than I thought.) I want to be someone who consistently chooses things that I want or think is good for my family versus what I think other people expect me to choose (in which case, I am frequently incorrect).

I think that’s why Sara Bareilles’s new song, Brave, almost always brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. According to wikipedia, Bareilles wrote the song for a friend to encourage him to come out to his family. The song may have been written about a specific situation, but I think it is so true for life in general.

The part that resonates the most with me is the bridge:

And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

How true is that? Truth with a capital T.

You can find the full lyrics here.