Blog by Yessica Maher, los Angeles Native.

She explores life after marriage, starting a career in her late 30's, relationships, breaking cycles of abuse, online dating, self care, fertility and depression. 

It's all over the place, but so is living. 

Setting Goals and Conquering Mountains

When I was in my late teens I didn't have major goals.  I think my only goal was to have enough disposable income to have someone come to my house and clean up after me. We married and had two kids and I said if he wanted another child I wanted another bedroom in our home and a dishwasher. All three of our kids were surprises, or we were being really irresponsible. I got the bedroom.  Not the dishwasher.  I would love a dishwasher, they look like saved time and fewer broken nails.

My goals are shifting.

I still want to hire a housekeeper and get a dishwasher.  Some dreams will never die.

I also want to travel.  I had imagined it, but never thought of it as practical or worth it for my kids. My boys don't like long trips and usually prefer to stay in a hotel room. We used to spend long summers in a tent along the river.  We loved Camp James in Kernville because they offered electricity. My husband has all of our camping things, and as long as it took me to pick out all of the things I wanted, I don't see myself wanting to start over any time soon.  At the end of the day, vacationing as a travelling mom required a vacation from my vacation.  Now I have days long stretches of being alone and I would love to travel.  I'm even applying for jobs and saying I'd be willing to travel because travelling alone sounds amazing.

I have more practical goals as well.  I want to buy pre-need memorial policies for my children.  My Mom did it for all of us.  When my husband's uncle passed away 2 years ago, I was looking into making arrangements for him.  He didn't have anyone else willing to make the calls and finalize his existence.  There were plenty of friends to go through his things. Once I had brought his things out of his home, there were family members that were indifferent yet curious. His remains were left to his family, and he ended up in the care of his nephew's wife who had interacted with him a handful of times in the first few months of our marriage around the year 2000.

In going over my Mom's pre-need policies, I could see that she originally covered every single possibility when she bought it all through Rose Hills.  She had four plots for her four daughters. She transferred everything except the plots to Forest Lawn as our family grew.  She is from Thailand and through legal channels, brought most of my relatives here, starting in 1984 with my grandmother.  She took years to petition and prove that she could financially support new immigrants.  Then she adopted six of my siblings. I get it from my Momma and she is one woman to be proud of. When I was going over her contracts, I could see that a lot of goods and services didn't transfer.  It was over a year of visits, letters, and calls, but in the end I was able to get her policies transferred back to Rose Hills without penalties from Forest Lawn and they're willing to honor the original contracts.  Forest Lawn didn't penalize her because I pointed out the areas their insurance agent willfully ignored his fiduciary duties to his client. This was after meeting with a couple of insurance agents, their records clerk, and even the President at Forest Lawn.  I admired her.  With the amount of policies my Mom had and the services she would have had to purchase again, I saved her over $10,000.  The insane part is how much you save when you purchase your policies early.  The longer you wait, the more funeral costs climb. I believe they share the same trajectory as college tuition. Doing this for my children is important to me.

Once I build my savings into a comfortable place where I have a 6 month emergency fund, I want to invest.  I hear good things about stock mutual funds.  I want to focus on index funds, but experiment in international funds.  It's all still terrifying, but I like the idea of a challenge and doing something new.

Then there's the house.  I love my little house, which is really my Mom's house, but I want to move one day.  I love the little winding roads and city views, but I don't love living on a tiny one way street with only street parking.  I want a place to grow things because I love to grow things.  I want space for a pond, because the little koi that could is coming with me, and I want space for my kids to slam a door that is just their door.  And a dishwasher, which means I will also have a garbage disposal.  I miss that.

Once I buy my house, I want to set up a power of attorney and living trust.  Without major assets, it doesn't seem important, but I'll also have to set up a will for my smaller trinkets and emotional belongings.  Then there's figuring out what happens with the kids should something also happen to the husband.  It seems far less likely we'll die together if we consistently choose to not be around each other.

My last goal is more about me.  I want to be okay. I can recognize that a divorce that hasn't started and unstable employment are a lot to handle.  I understand that sometimes a surprise can shift my day because I had spent it on a tightrope anyway.  I want to not be thrown by it.  I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. I'm getting better. Last night my son called me to ask a question, and my response to hearing my husband's girlfriend playing house with my kids and hers was to answer his question and excuse myself from the call.  I didn't lose it.  I'm not bashing her.  I didn't stay up all night, but for about an hour, I let that situation bother me.



The day I had wasn't an excuse for that lost hour.  Every day presents challenges.  Every moment is a chosen reaction. I was blessed with a late birthday breakfast, pedicure, and shopping date with a woman who has always had my back, even when I stabbed hers.  We talked about life and she helped point out some of the ways my husband was controlling me.  She saw more than I could, but she's right. He manipulated me into avoiding her friendship because he didn't like her.  He wanted me to go to bed at the same time as him, even if I couldn't sleep.  That was about control and even if he wasn't violent, walking on eggshells because I was afraid of my actions affecting his mood wasn't okay. We joked about how blessed we were to live as we did in our 20's without a pregnancy scare or STI.  We're also grateful we grew out of that.  She helped me see that I got bored of dating when I felt men were easy because of the men I was making myself available to.  She also pointed out that I could raise my standards and it would change things.  Then she told me that online dating was a waste for her as well.  She married a man with patience, fire, and a large brain.  He is everything perfect for her as she gives what she gets and they respond in love. We talked pre-nuptials.  I've never been asked to sign one.  I think it puts doubt into a relationship, but at the end of the day, I'm not necessarily against shacking up either. I'm not against it, but I'm also not thinking that far ahead. I'm trying to take care of my heart and healing, and I haven't considered finding someone to take care of me. My values as a wife are so solid in my mind. What I did as a single person was so different and I'm not sure how I want to address that now that I have a second chance to be single, and not a trollop.  That may change. I'm still figuring it all out. I did a lot I never dreamed I would as a wife. I accepted more than I thought I could in the name of being a good wife.  Who knows what will happen next time, or when next time will happen.  I still haven't started looking for my next husband or even a first date. I love visiting with her, because her perspective leaves me joyful and optimistic.  The past with her is lighter than it is in my memories.

I returned my Dad's call and had family emergencies that required about an hour of my time and frustration enough that my silence was to try to remember the happy place I had just been in.  I got home feeling chills and was hit with a fever.  I was thankful that I could be sick without being Mom too. This morning I told him I'm staying in bed and being sick, so he invited himself over.  I told him I wasn't up to it, and now I think I have to put clothes on just in case he pops over anyway. Boundaries!

I slept for a few hours before hearing from the husband then kid3.  He's contacted me twice in three days, and I preferred the radio silence. I miss my kids but for now I'm okay not hearing their voices if I have to hear their pseudo mom too.  I'm not calling her a stepmom yet. She still has her husband and she gets what she needs from hers and mine. One day my husband will be my ex.  I'm not sure if that'll happen once I file, or once it's final.  A couple of loved ones want me to let him file, and remain single for the rest of my life.  That doesn't appeal to me. I want to hire an attorney and it's not to get all he's worth, but I want someone else to do the heavy lifting so I can do the emotional healing. When he becomes my ex husband, I'll have his name covered on my arm, and I already have a best friend planning to be with me when I do.

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