Dog poop vs navy life

This actually happened the other day. 

The phone rings- I go all Phone Ninja and leap the dog to answer it- it’s Popeye of course.

My heart leaps, my pulse races- just to hear his voice on the other end of the line is AMAZING.

“What’s that I can hear in the background?” He asks.

“I’m cleaning out the bath with bleach” replies me, “we had a toddler incident this afternoon involving dog poo, bare feet and the slide- so what have you been up to?” <frantic scrubbing>

“Oh it’s awful here I’m missing home so much”.

“Yes Popeye we miss you so much too- but what have you been up to?”

“Nothing much, you know, I’m so so tired I’ve just sat by the pool and read my book”.


I pause from scrubbing possible dog shit residue out of the bath and stand there in our bathroom with bleach water dripping down my forearm.

What did you just say?”

Not realising the danger he’s in, the poor tired lamb, repeats himself.

“I just rested by the pool and finished my book”. 

I give a slightly maniacal laugh, perfectly timed against the background noise of toddlers screaming and yelling and some suspicious thuds coming from the living room.

“You. Have. No. Fucking. Idea.”

I literally bite my tongue. I’ve never done that before. It hurts but it works. It stopped me from going nuclear on Popeye.


I managed to condense it down to only a five minute rant about his lack of perspective, empathy or understanding of what my day to day looks like.

Because I bit my tongue I managed to scale it back to only a handful of F bombs and C words.

Because I bit my tongue I only once told him that he has no idea I would actually shave all the hair off of my head to be sitting by a pool reading a book. I would buy a wide brimmed hat and style it out. 

I then stuttered that I had to go. Hung up on him and poured myself a very large wine.

I stuck my feet in the paddling pool and read slow cooker recipes off of my phone. 

That’s basically the same thing, right?

The meaty middle

The meaty bit of the deployment. The middle bit, the big chunk where you’re a few months in and you’ve got a few months to go.

That’s where I’ve been. 

I’ve been keeping my head down, coping.

Get up, get washed, get dressed and keep busy. Drink wine and eat quavers. Repeat.

Let me make this clear to my civvy readers-time has not gone quickly. But it has gone. 

I’m utterly bamboozled by this fact. I don’t entirely understand how I have done this middle bit. At the beginning 9 months was utterly paralysingly terrifying. Still is to be honest. 

But now it’s utterly paralysingly terrifying with a twist of bewilderment and a silent air punch of pride. 

IVE ALMOST BLOODY DONE IT LADIES AND GENTS!


I’ve kept the kids alive and not had a total breakdown!

I’m chalking it up as a big fat WIN.

As the reality that I’ve almost done it hits its actually a bit unsettling. I keep stopping and asking myself how did I get here?

 How have I done this?

Has he really been gone for 7 months?!?!

Is he actually coming back?!

On one hand it feels like he’s been gone an eternity, on the other it feels like maybe a few weeks, a couple of months. 

And as this self awareness dawns on me it hits me. The absolute totally all consuming longing to have him home.

Justcomehomejustcomehomejustcomehome

So near and yet so far from the finish line. 

This ladies (and gents) is the final push. That last bit of energy and positivity that you have to dredge up from somewhere in your gut to keep going right up to the end.

I was happily plodding along with the meaty middle bit of the deployment and suddenly the realisation that he will be home soon(ish) hit me.

I kind of wish it hadn’t to be honest. A few more weeks  in my “meaty middle bit” bubble would’ve been most welcome. 

It’s time for that final sprint! And I’m ready.

Alternative “open when” letters. For the realistic military wife.

I’ve been thinking I might have a go at writing some “open when” letters for Popeye. I’m sure you’ve all heard of them. Maybe some of you have even sent them, if you have I’m a teeny but in awe/jelly.

“Open when” letters are letters you write before they deploy that they can open when they’ve deployed at various pre stipulated points. 

For example they might say “open when…

  • You’re missing me
  • It’s your birthday
  • It’s our anniversary
  • You’ve had a bad day
  • You’ve reached the halfway point of the deployment.

Etc etc.


They are a really lovely idea and I’m sure they bring a lot of satisfaction and happiness to many of you. 

But (you knew there would be a but didn’t you!) they just ain’t my style. 

If me and Popeye were to do this, there would be some serious reality checks involved.

First of all I don’t know when the fuck I would find the time to write a dozen or so poignant declarations of love and reassurance. I barely have time to wash myself or go for a wee in private. Also I’d much rather spend those last few days actually hanging out with Popeye.

Secondly I’m 95%sure Popeye would either read them all in one sitting or forget about them until I mentioned them on the phone and/or the night before homecoming. Kind of ruins the magic a tad.

Thirdly I would be so tempted to put joke answers inside. I don’t think I can be trusted not to be a complete cow and do something like this-

“Open when… you feel like crying” *Popeye, with a sniff, opens letter*

“….ha ha ha ….tit…”

Or “open when…. you are homesick”

*opens letter, maybe a bit more guarded this time*

“….man up or hand in your notice… p.s it’s horrible here anyway…”.

Yeah maybe that’s not the best way to go.

I know!

Got it. I’m going to write him “Open when” letters, for a real (as in boring and normal) military relationship, my ideas so far include:

  • Open when…you’ve spent £200-500 on a night out, phone me from the dockside at 3am slurring, have fallen over and can’t figure out how to hold your phone and stand up at the same time
  • Open when… you forgot to top up your phone card and we get cut off mid conversation. Even though I reminded you yesterday.
  • Open when… you haven’t emailed me for days because you’re “so busy” at work but there are Facebook photos of you by the pool and/or selfie with a monkey in gib.
  • Open when… you realise I’ve spent hours buying, packing and posting out parcels to you and you moan I forgot to put in jelly beans.
  • Open when… you think it’s a sane idea to give me parenting suggestions from hundreds of miles away
  • Open when… you’re on a beach sipping cocktails and seriously say that you’d rather be here in rainy old Blighty than a tropical beach paradise luxury resort 
  • Open when… you casually mention on the phone you’ve been doing the T25 work out for the last two months and how it’s going really well knowing full well I’m halfway down a bottle of rosé and have eaten an entire Terry’s chocolate orange since you rang.

And the best thing about this is that I can save time and effort in the contents of the letters! A one-word-fits-all “open when” letter system! 

Simply

“….prick…”

I’ll let you know how I get on,

Muchos love,

Olive

P.s the choc orange was totally worth it.

X

Ive got to stop hiding.

Keeping up a front of “coping”during a deployment is exhausting.

It is so exhausting that I can’t actually do it in front of my closest friends. I know if I see them and we have a quiet moment (I.e I have bribed the sprogs with biscuits or quavers or similar) they will ask how I’m doing. 

And I will lose it. The floodgates will open and I will cry. I will get all snotty. I will be a total tit. 

Even if I am actually doing ok. Even if today was going alright up to this point. Even  if I got an email this morning. 

And then, then I will have this weird compulsion to apologise for being like this and will start to call myself names to lighten the situation. 

“I’m being an idiot”

“My god he’s only been gone X weeks, im such a loser”. 

“This is pathetic I’m so sorry!”

Then usually crack a joke. 

So I avoid my nearest and dearest in the beginning. Because with them I can let my guard down. Because with them I can let rip because I feel safe and supported. Because with them I can become a snotty, blubbering mess.

They’ve already seen me at my worst. Either puking in a toilet crying about a boy and how I’m never ever drinking sambuca again (uni and “wild youth” friends), or utterly zombiefied with massive black bags under my eyes and no make up with my v sore nipples out trying to work out the sodding latch (early motherhood/breastfeeding friends). 

So me having a howl at the dining room table clutching a coffee whilst CBeebies blasts out of the living room isn’t all that shocking.


But I don’t want to get in that state.

I am coping, I’m doing this deployment. If they ask me how I am and I lose it then surely I am not coping. 

That’s just logic.

Except I know that it’s not true. Yes I am coping. I mean, everyone is alive, clean fed and dressed. I’m still getting out and about and we still have lazy days. 

Maybe breaking down in tears is part of coping , it’s just the part we all forget from time to time.

Maybe I need to let go of the pressure of being a navy wife and a mum with a deployed sailor from time to time. Like a release valve. So that I can keep going, one coffee at a time.

Post Telephone Sadness Disorder (PTSD)

Phone calls. They are, for some military wives, the silver lining in the shit storm of deployment.

You look forward to them, keep the phone near you, you might organise a good time to call or you might get the surprise of your life, anytime day or night, of the home phone going and the mad scramble to answer it, abandoning any menial task (like feeding your baby), to race towards that noisy cuboid full of promise. 

A phonecall from your sailor is a drug, and you never know when you’re going to get your next hit. And boy oh boy how you  crave it.


To hear their voice can be the pivotal point of my week, the elation I feel when I hear his answering “hello, it me” is bloody mighty. 

And then it’s over, they have to go back to work, or get in the taxi in some tropical haven, or (more likely) you get cut off suddenly. 

After the phonecall, I suffer a massive comedown-  I get Post Telephone Sadness Disorder, PTSD. 

Post Telephone Sadness Disorder is characterised by the following-

  • Moping
  • Looking at Facebook photos of Popeye
  • Staring at the home phone willing it to ring again
  • Temporary consumption of excessive amounts of chocolate (on a school night) or port (love a bit of port) and quavers
  • Alternating between big cuddles for the sprogs and shutting myself in the kitchen because they are doing my nut in. 
  • More moping
  • Rereading emails I’ve sent and he’s sent
  • Random sighing
  • Watching twilight (I don’t know why, I guess phone PTSD effects us all differently). 

Luckily, unlike its much more serious name twin actual PTSD, the effects of phone PTSD are relatively short lived, don’t (significantly) effect daily functioning and (hopefully) invokes pleasant flashbacks and memories.

Phone PTSD is a bitch. But it’s a condition I’m happily putting up with because the phonecalls are so worth it. Now I think about it, it really is actually a bit like a drug comedown (I imagine, I have no experience unfortunately I’m far to boring for any wild youth experience in that department). 

But it’s a side effect of deployment that we’ve got to live with. A bitter sweet reality that adds a little variety to the day to day routine and the (fucking huge massive scary) countdown. 

It’s a condition that we do live with. Another aspect of deployment civvies never really understand, so I like to do it in style, quavers and port at the ready. 

Things I do when my husband isn’t here

I just got home without Popeye and strangely instead of crying or shouting or collapsing into the floor I stood in the middle of the room and let rip the biggest fart ever, right there in the living room. 

After the shock and knee jerk reaction blushing, all I thought was “fuck yeah Olive! Now I can do whatever the fuck I want to!”

It was liberating, it was exhilarating, it was a little bit scary.

And as I stood there post fart, hands on hips, chin up in what will now and forever be known as the F U Deployment Fart Pose, I got to thinking. 

What else can I now do that I can’t when Popeye is home?!?! 

This is what I have come up with so far whilst the girls are being raised on Peppa Pig and I curl up on the sofa trying not to cry:

  1. Spend ages looking for spots in the mirror.
  2. Watch such high brow TV as Buffy, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and GBBO.
  3. Let the dog sleep on the bed (shhhh).
  4. Put all of Popeyes clothes in a big pile in the bottom of the wardrobe so I can use his drawers for my stuff.
  5. Buy and eat food he doesn’t like all the time. YES!
  6. Fart as I go. 
  7. Actually talk to and meet up with friends instead of being a super flakey crap friend when he’s home.
  8. Go on social media all evening if I want to. Without feeling guilty im not spending magical romantic time with him. 
  9. Secretly throw out any of his honking Pussers socks that I come across. 
  10. Order whatever bloody dominoes I want (as a side note- there’s nothing wrong with Texas BBQ chicken).
  11. And potentially the most exciting thing- NO MORE STAR TREK OR GODDAMN PLAYSTATION!

What have I missed?

Muchos love,

Olive X 

My denial dinghy.

Popeye leaves for his 9 month deployment very very soon. Obvs can’t mention dates etc but let’s just say we aren’t talking weeks here.

He’s said his goodbyes to the outlaws and is gearing up to say tatty bye to our daughters. And I guess me too but I can’t even go there right now.

Each deployment is different. Usually I’m a sobbing, snotty, puffy eyed wreck (attractive). This time however I’m like totally numb. I’ve zoned out and can’t even get words out of my mouth when we talk about it.

 I have no idea why my brain has done this but all I can guess is my minds gone “no, no. Nope. Can’t handle this. Too painful. Too much. It’s too much! I’m checking out. See you later  conscious brain. Catch you laters!”

So I am calm. I am dangerously calm. Like  the normal emotional reaction is a rip current but I’m happily bobbing about on top on my dinghy. Probably doing a sudoku.

 My little escapist, denial dinghy that I’m fairly sure has a puncture. 


It’s going to deflate at some point and then I must face the depths of this. 

For instance, certain questions I should be addressing such as- 

How do we explain this to our two year old? 

My brain: No idea. We’ve got nothing here captain (plays magic roundabout theme tune loudly on repeat whilst doing some thing Pinterest fail-esque). 

Have we got all the grown up pre deployment shit sorted out? Like making sure his Skype account and mine are good to go. The emergency numbers and his phone card numbers are taped to the fridge, and the Christmas decorations are down from the loft.

My brain: yes, really should do this. Got loads of time (we don’t). Will just do this first (gardening/drinking wine/ starting a quilt). 

Spending quality time together.

My brain: so, it looks like date nights been a bit of a fail. Hey I know why don’t I write a blog post all about it instead of putting my phone down and giving it another shot. Genius.

Capturing each precious memory of the last week on film.

My brain: hey let’s leave the phone at home so you can’t take any pictures. Nothing like a bit of self sabotage to really help your early deployment mental health. Don’t want to make this easy for myself after all do I?

these photos were brought to you by random iphone gatherings over the summer.

I didn’t really know how to end this blog post (I blame my obviously faulty brain at this time) so I read it to Popeye and he said it’s because this time it’s not just about me and him. 

This time I have two children to care for. Two small people’s brains who are looking to me to see how to cope with this. 

This time is longer. 9 months is such a massive chunk of time when I think about it it makes my head go fuzzy and I start laughing in a slightly unhinged way.

This time it’s not just a couple saying goodbye, but a family saying goodbye. 

My family. 

Shit.

Normal service will resume shortly

Pre deployment date night fail

So it’s getting close to the Big D.

We don’t have many nights when Popeye isn’t working the next day left, plus we have a mental two year old and a 7 month old baby who is teething and beginning to resemble Count Dracula or someone from the Volturi. 

We are exhausted but decided to push the boat out (-ha ha ha, punny) and have a date night. 


The plan was to do an early bedtime for the kids, settle down with a naice film and a takeaway, a bottle of fizz and then have some maximum effort, sexy underwear, lights dimmed but on “grown up time”. I had shaved my legs and everything.

What actually happened was a massive fail. Like colossal. 

The Early bedtime- both children decided they are junior insomniacs. One wanted to jump around singing “wind the (effing) bobbin up” at full blast. The other decided that tonight was the night she would develop super duper senses telling her the precise second I put her down she would wake up, eyes bright and alight with happiness, a small smile playing around her mouth. Over. And over. And over again. For three hours.  Three. THREE! I finally got downstairs at about 8.30pm.

The Naice film. Popeye was supposed to choose one and have it ready for when I got downstairs. He was watching Star Trek. Now I don’t have anything against Captain Kirk et al, but it’s not quite what I had in mind. I let him know.

We had a Chinese! Huzzah! As for the booze- I was too exhausted and full of Chinese to even think about having a drink. Plus I realised my super duper 50% off bottle I got from Lidl was probably that price because it was only 7.5%. Not gonna lie, I felt cheated. 

So, in summary, our Big Pre Deployment Date Night consisted of us sitting in opposite areas of the house for a few hours, me with vampire insomniac children, him with the crew of The USS Enterprise. We did have a Chinese, however this rendered us really full and fat.

In the end he put on Die Hard and I went on Mumsnet. 

Jammy fuckers

This.

Who said romance is dead?!?!

The amount of pressure we both felt under for last night to be “amazing” was ridiculous. We are first parents then a couple afterall and even though our date night idea looked pretty fab on paper in reality it’s just not going to work out like that. It just feels like I can almost hear the clock ticking down those final few days and it’s making my adrenaline run, I imagine it’s how John McClaine felt when he realised he had no shoes and had to fight Snape. 

P.s we are aiming for round two tonight, maybe if we spread the content of date night over the whole weekend we will get all the boxes ticked???

The way I miss you.

It hits me in waves.

No pun intended.

The Missing You Tsunami smashes into me out of nowhere, dragging me out to sea.

I am lost. Swimming along the shore desperately searching for a way back to normal.

I doggy paddle, then front crawl, keeping my head above water until

A rip current rips me. Swirls me around and pushes me back out again.

It draws me out then feeds me back to the shore.

Tumbling and spluttering like some confused octopus I crawl back up the beach

Find my feet and 

Keep walking.

Keep walking.

Keep walking.

Until I hear the distant rumble,

And the Missing You Tsunami threatens me again. 

One woman’s homecoming is another’s goodbye

With the return today of HMS Defender (and if many of you wonder why I bang on about this ship in particular ok I will just say it- it’s Popeyes old ship where I met most of my NWBFFs and felt part of the Royal Navy community for the first time and not just some kind of Lone Ranger navy wife freak) and im filled with such excitement on their behalf, I’m so crazily proud of the families who have waited 9 months for them to finally come home. 

(After doing basically a 7 month deployment about 2 mins before this one- mental).

I can see the wives and the girlfriends, the sisters and the brothers and the mummy’s and daddy’s in my minds eye in a few short hours, finally getting that hug and kiss they’ve waited and waited and waited some more for.

9 month in, 9 months out
But as well as all of this excitement for them, and soppiness and nostalgia it’s reminded me that it’s my turn to say goodbye next. For 9 months.

And I am seriously freaking out.

After I did my first deployment and met Popeye at the homecoming I was naive. I didn’t pause to think there will be another one. And another and another. 

The second he stepped off the ship a new countdown started to the next time he would deploy.

What happened? We had a minimum of a 6 month deployment with less than 12 months inbetween for four years. That’s a lot of deploying.

It was awful. It was hard. It was surreal. 

But it was doable. I look back at “deployment Olive” with no small degree of awe. She was hardcore.

“Did really do that?”

How did I do all those deployments?”

Can I really do it all again?

(in a very small voice, like a stroppy toddler) “But I don’t want to!”

Thinking about this upcoming deployment is filling me with dread. Not just because I know how hard it will be, but because this time I’m on my todd with our two gorgeous baby girls. No pressure then.

And that’s going to bring a whole new level of shit and heartache and stress and strain that I haven’t encountered before. 

And that is a type of deployment I know nothing about. 

So watch this space my lovelies. Hopefully my blog will stay the chirpy quirky space it’s always been. Not some kind of weird online written record of my unraveling. 

I need success stories please!

So as the WAGs of HMS Defender wave that mighty ship home, with the sodding brass band blasting, and the little tug boat getting zilch recognition; my thoughts are bitter sweet and let’s be honest, a bit “me me me.” 

This navy life is (as my good pal Ronan would say) a roller coaster. 

I’d rather be on the dodgems. 

Muchos love,

Olive X