Ok *oversharing alert* family and friends click away now.
Popeye has just reminded me of something that has happened every deployment and I’m wondering if it happens to you too.
Thing is, it’s a tad embarrassing.
A smidge, a pinch, a wee bit cringe inducing.
When your partner deploys, companionship and wholesome friendship issues aside, it leaves a big gap in your sex life. There’s a *ahem* how do I put it- a romantic need that he just *ahem* can’t fulfill because he is several thousand miles away.
We all have our own “coping mechanisms” and this post is not about that. It’s about something else that happens after a “dry spell” spanning several months.
Every time Popeye has been on deployment I have had (occasional) rude dreams.
(This, so far, is pretty normal right? Stay with me. It gets weird)
Every time Popeye has been on deployment I have had rude dreams that are not starring Popeye.
(Ok ok we’re all grown ups here, we can admit that dreaming about someone other than your partner does happen and although totes cringey and not something you mention down the phone- not exactly something entering into the realms of bizarre.)
Here it is-
Every time Popeye has deployed I have had rude dreams about low status TV personalities.
Not even proper slebs! These fantasy dreams have starred such well known hotties as
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
Each time I’ve woken up totally and utterly freaked out and emailed Popeye in a state of utter squeamishness.
I don’t know why my subconscious seeks out middle aged gardeners and organic chefs as prime X rated dream stars.
But it does. And it scares me. I don’t get my brain. When I’m awake, they do nothing for me. Sorry Al and Hugh, no offence but you’re just not my type(s).
Tell me I’m not the only one?
Seriously, you guys have had freaky weird sex dreams too, right guys? Right?!
I want to set the record straight once and for all about something that gets said to military wives frequently around homecoming time. It is usually said by our old pals Well Meaning people but can also be chucked around by randoms you meet out and about, who have all the quiet tact and discretion of HMS Queen Liz coming into Portsmouth.
Heres the basic script:
Military spouse: “OMGOMGOMG I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL POPEYE IS HOOOOOME!”
Well meaning twat person: “Aww thats cute. Give it a few days and you’ll wish they were away again. Lolz”.
Oh how we all laughed! These well meaning people, how spot on they are. How well they know what we go through. Its uncanny. Unsettling even.
(Heavy sarcasm alert.)
Why on gods green earth would we want them to bugger off again?
This is what I want to say to these well meaning people (because you cant really say it to their faces, unless you’re a total cow/self confident superstar.)
Statement of truth, from Olive, to all you Well Meaning People:
“When the loves of our lives return to us from the sea, or the land, or the sky, from war torn countries, landscapes filled with unimaginable horrors, dangers and poor wifi, we are elated.
They are home safe. We can speak to them again, we can touch them again, we can smell them again (not in a creep way).
After the initial dazzling, hazy period after homecoming fades, when all the friends and relatives have been visited, the family holiday completed, the special homecoming food and booze consumed; the return to real life commences.
Its not glamorous, its not perfect, its not chocolates and flowers.
Its remembering their annoying habits (leaving his toothbrush on the side of the sink), their idiosyncrasies (like letting rip with the hugest fart every morning when they wake), and their faults (cannot load the dishwasher correctly).
Its them getting used to being at home with us again too. Its very much a two way street. We change when they’re away too.
We are stronger, we are more confident, we can top up the oil in the car, get two kids up and out by 8am and we can manage the family finances alone.
It takes time to find the balance.
Healthy, normal couples find the balance by communicating. Synonyms for this include bickering, nagging, sarcastically reminding, huffing and stropping and of course, the old classic, moaning.
And here we come to the core of the issue-
None of this means we want them to leave again!
Yes they can do our heads in, and I’m sure I annoy the hell out of Popeye at times (infact I know I do, because he tells me).
But understand, dearest Well Meaning Person, that this in NO way equates to us wanting them to leave, to having to go through a deployment again.
What it does mean is that we, as a normal couple, are finding our way back to everyday life together, again.
So please, when you think of your “hilarious” commentary on my relationship, kindly STFU.
I was so worried Popeye wouldn’t bond with our eldest, Sweetpea. He was deployed for 7 months and I was terrified he would miss the birth.
Which of course he did, by about 35 minutes.
At the time it was my worst fear come true. But after a few hours in labour I really couldn’t give a flying fuck if he was there or not as I realised only I could do this. Not him. Me. Even with my amazing sister there as support, there was only one fandango available for the 8lb 3oz of blessing to shoot through.
So Sweetpea arrived safely at home, as planned. Phew.
Popeye turned up half an hour later which gave me just enough time to arrange myself like My Lady Mother complete with non medusa hair and clothes on.
I was petrified he wouldn’t bond with her.
He was only home for four weeks and after that gone for another 5.5 months.
I spent those four weeks willing them to bond, to have a magical father daughter connection etc etc. This is very tricky when exclusively breastfeeding a baby with a tongue tie and jaundice who spends 23 hours a day onyou.
Not that much “quality time” could happen.
Turns out this is normal for new babies. Babies need to be on their mum. Next to them, being held, being fed, puking all over, shitting all over, sleeping on their mum. Then feeding some more for good measure.
So Popeye left me with this four week old feeding pooping machine and flew back to his ship in the Middle East.
Time passed, homecoming happened! We were reunited as a family at last.
And it was fine.
Popeye and Sweetpea bonded brilliantly. They had an immediate connection and she’s now a real daddies girl. Breastfeeding her had no negative impact on their bond, it just meant I was stuck doing bedtimes for a bit.
And they are still so close. Even when Popeye deployed again for 9 months this time, when she was two. They really are thick as thieves and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
All my worrying was for nothing to be honest. Him being deployed did not negatively effect his relationship with his baby.
It took him some time to get to grips with the practicalities. Like how to put babygros on them. And to always have a pocket of wipes within arms reach.
And the somber knowledge that we will never feel rested again was hard for him to get his head round but all in all I have never been so glad to be proved wrong!
Plus he owed me so many nappy changes when he came home. Kinda made it worth it in itself 😉.
When I was pregnant again with Sproglet I wasn’t so worried.
This was because I knew
Only I can give birth, so whether Popeye is there or not is kind of irrelevant when you get down to the nitty gritty.
They will bond, whether that’s now or in a few months.
It’s not the job that stops some men being the best dad they can be.
It’s not the quantity of time you spend with your baby it’s the quality.
Look on the bright side, he will have to make up for it with nappy changes and giving you naps for all the night wakings. SCORE!
In short it’s the man not the military that influence if they will be a good dad or not.
This Saturday just gone I put on my first charity coffee and cake fundraiser for the fabulous charity Little Troopers.
It was a total success and we raised a fantastic £120!!!
#proudface all round.
There were, of course a few hiccups on the way. Including the first (and only solo) attempt at baking I did. That resulted in a whole batch of “fugly” cupcakes that we sold at a discount, because hey, fugly cakes need homes too.
We were given a mahoosive stack of boxes of cupcakes from Morrisons that were absolutely delish and had been baked fresh in store the day I collected them and hand decorated so beautifully- totally put my fuglies to shame tbh but I’m OK with that as it was for charidee.
Big props to Chris from Morrisons in Portsmouth for sorting us out with that scran. You are a legend and totally squared us away.
Other shout outs are needed for the lovely lady in charge of Cockleshell Community Centre- Kerry. Who set up the room the day before, sorted out the raffle tickets and showed up with a large amount of meat even though she had a horrendous migraine. Nails.
Not forgetting my civvy best mate Aime for her amazing face painting skillz including the full range of spider man characters including actual venom omg.
My NWBFF Emma and her hubby Dai (off of Wales). They turned up the day before and sorted out my crap baking skills and helped me learn to weigh my eggs and how to pipe buttercream. They also taught me that cocoa powder is not the same as hot chocolate.
And that it is especially not the same as hot chocolate that went off in 2014.
And the awesome Charlotte who rocked up bang on 9am when I was running shockingly late (I managed to get lost on the way- even though I’ve been there several times before- don’t ask).
Now I had never ever met Charlotte, but in true Navy wife style she surveyed the thinly veiled chaos I had created and calmly asked me how she could help and got on with cutting out prices and signs and stuff. She was un-flusterable and for that, I salute you.
Me on the other hand, I was not quite so calm. I arrived shockingly late, met my baking gurus Emma & Dai standing outside looking a tad perplexed as we couldnt get in yet.
Cue pacing and phoning and my hair getting more and more sweaty. We got in and got set up just in time. All thanks to the fantastic team of people who got stuck in. I’m not exaggerating when I say if had been all down to me it would have been a bit shit. It was a real team effort and it was So. Much. Fun.
We ate a lot of cakes.
We drank a lot of coffee.
We swapped navy horror stories.
We may have swapped incompetent husband stories. But the feminist in me won’t admit to that.
Helen went home with a big piece of meat. She was very happy with this.
I met up with loads of the wives from Popeyes old ship. It was FANTASTIC to see them all again and has inspired another NW Night Out soon.
My kids ran around screaming on a sugar high with face paints. Actually everyone else’s did this too, to be fair.
Although only my daughter decided to pull her trousers and pants down in the middle of the room in front of everyone shouting “I NEED THE TOILET NOWWWWW”-( hey you can’t win them all).
It was great and I’m sure I’ve forgotten lots of stuff. I want to do another one before Christmas and vary the location to get as many people as possible involved.
So keep your eyes peeled as I will be cobbling something else together in December-
There’s no rule saying you have to suck it up and smile sweetly when they tell you they are missing your anniversary.
You can be annoyed, and rightly so, you can be hurt, you can be miffed and vexed and whatever-the-hell-you-need-to-feel when they “forget” to tell you they are duty weekend until 4pm on a Friday.
Sometimes we military wives need a little reality check.
It is fine to be pissed off when your partner cancels plans. Even if the reason for this cancelled plans is some MOD top priority mission. It’s fine.
It’s normal to be slightly vexed at having to switch Friday night plans from romantic dinner then bars then casino to dominoes and a bottle of red for one in your pjs at 45 minutes notice.
It’s understandable to not be cheerful and jolly ho and well wishing, when calling up the travel agent and praying with crossed fingers, that you can rebook the holiday you’ve saved a whole year for.
It is healthy to feel the rage at these times. It would be bizarre if you didn’t. And if it didn’t you might start doing weird passive aggressive things like deliberately putting gone off milk in his tea before he leaves, or “accidentally”‘deleting all the game of thrones on the sky planner. Or you might take it out on the BBKB (Big Black Kit Bag) in a barely contained fit of rage.
Although it might make you feel better in the short term it won’t for long.
So please please ladies, don’t try to hold it together. When you feel pissed off, be pissed off.
Get vocal, get sweary, hang up on them if you need to. Cry if you need to.
Just don’t for Petes sake, bottle it all up.
Because at the end of the day, whether you lose the plot and let him have it both barrels, or you suppress it with your best stepford wife smile, the shits still going to hit you just the same.
At least this way you will deal with it in a way that it healthy for you. Because sadly the shits going to hit that military relationship fan again and again. And yes as time goes on you will get used to it in a way- but that doesn’t mean the shit doesn’t still stink.
Shout it loud and shout it proud ladies- but only if you want to.
The phone rings- I go all Phone Ninjaand 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.
I’ve broken one of the cardinal rules of navywifedom.
I’ve booked a holiday for when the ships due back.
And it gets worse.
Ive booked it for the day the ship gets back.
Because it’s my birthday that day.
I’m a total plonker.
It’s my birthday the day the ships back and it’s a significant number (30 ahem, I mean 21) and I’ve booked up a wholesome weekend in Centre Parcs.
(*waves at sniggering mumsnetters*).
So of course now I’ve cursed it. I’ve cursed my birthday, and homecoming and everything.
What the actual fuck was I thinking?!?!?!?!
Have my years as a military wife and prior to that, girlfriend, taught me nothing?!
Am I having some kind of delusional break?! Have I lost my grip on reality?!?!?!?
Of course now the homecoming date will change.
There literally is no point to this post apart from me
Freaking out about my (21st) birthday
Freaking out about having to see popeye and wear a bikini around him straight away.
Going on holiday with a man I haven’t seen in almost a year with two toddlers
The navy fucking up my (poorly laid) plans.
The actual logistics of sorting the house/kids/myself out, going to homecoming, turning around and bombing it down the A303
What I wanted was a lovely birthday and holiday with Popeye.
To be honest I was a little miffed that my birthday was going to be all about him.
What do you think? Am I being totally naive or am I engaging in some weird birthday self sabotage?
P.s if you get the MN and centre parcs reference, don’t jump to conclusions, get your mind out the gutter.
<update> of course something did go wrong and yesI did have to rebook the flipping holiday. I can hear the “I told you so’s” from here. Muchos love x
I’m into the second half of our glorious and magnificent 9 month deployment (sarcasm alert).
So far these phrases have become my vocal soundtrack: Yes I’m at the halfway mark, isn’t that great. Yes I’m sure this half will fly by. Yes it does seem so much more doable since having him home. Yes it was fantastic to have him home, utter perfection, top notch. He is afterall my hero.
(Please note the continuing theme of heavy sarcasm above).
The truth is, having to say goodbye again after what felt like approximately 3.25 minutes on one hand /all of eternity on the other was not wonderful or magical.
In fact it was one of the hardest goodbyes we’ve had. Or that I’ve had, I don’t know about him as I’ve not really heard from him apart from being told he’s alive and on the ship. At least it supports my working theory that goodbyes don’t actually get any easier.
It’s supposed to be two weeks of leave, except it’s actually not. It’s 12 days of leave, with flights here and back out at ridiculous o’clock so it’s more like 10 actual days face to face with your sailor and the rest is him flying across the hemispheres.
The pressure to do things and see people was insane. For 10 days I basically tried to present this Bree Vandekamp version of myself. This lasted approximately 20 minutes after he got back when Sweetpea had a meltdown and I announced I was getting myself a gin.
The doing things part wasn’t so bad, we went to the zoo, we went shopping, Sproglet had her first birthday party (I know I can’t believe it either), and Popeye fought his way valiantly to the bottom of the wash basket, (I had thought the exsistence of a bottom to the washing basket was just a myth or urban legend, turns out it’s a real thing! Just one I have never seen before or since).
And whilst we were doing things he realised, through the behaviour of our darling one and two year olds, that life at home is actually insane 80% of the time.
He realised why I don’t email as much, or in as much detail as I used to.
He realised why our house always has a surface level mess of toys/crumbs/opened wipe packets despite me tidying for a few hours.
He realised that cooking dinner is not a relaxing Annabel Karmel filled bonding experience, but rather an experience akin to Jason Bourne trying to evade the CIA whilst cooking beige food with the token floor offering of veg.
He realised that trying to reason with a toddler, and saying things like “calm down Sweetpea and listen to daddy” whilst she’s mid tantrum is like hitting your head on the floor. Which is ironically usually what the toddler is doing. He also realised I was right in that all you can do is walk away and ignore. *smug face*
He realised all this about our home life in just a ten day crash course in reality and was genuinely scared for me, and amazed that I manage to get them myself and both the girls up and dressed by 8am three days a week.
I was a tad smug. He was in awe of me.
And as for the seeing people- I took on board Peppers advice in her guest blog post and we took all the family visits in big hits, we saw all the family for Sproglets birthday and then saw the outlaws again another day for what was supposed to be a lovely day swimming with Popeyes nephew and our monsters but actually turned into a trip to A&E courtesy of NHS 111 advice for Sproglet (she had a rash but it was just from a virus- just a normal day in the life of parenthood 😑).
I’m so glad we took that advice and had people come to us/ went to see them in batches- to everyone else considering plans for homecoming leave or mid deployment leave- do this !!!!
We did all the things we were supposed to do, we had a wonderful alcohol fuelled date night, we had an blazing argument about pickle. We took zillions of photos. We laughed and I cried (he’s like a stone man or something and hardly ever cries) we did rock and roll things like rewatching Downton Abbey on box set and cuddled on the sofa. God damn it we did everything. In 10 manic days we compressed 4 months of relationship stuff.
It was exhausting. It was exhilarating.
Then it was over.
In the blink of an eye he was gone one night after bedtime was done. His shoes were still by the back door, his coffee cup on the side (Take That reference alert minus the lipstick marks), his toothbrush still left by the sink despite my nagging him to put it away for 10 days.
Now it’s back to work for me, and back to work for him.
We saw, we did, we said goodbye (again).
And I’m so glad he came home and we got that time together, even if every time I see the pickle now I have to stifle a sob.