Mumming & Military Wife-ing 

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.

Glowing my ass off here. Back in the days of sleep.
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. 

Look what I made! Madness.
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 on you.

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. 

It was around this time I wrote this wildly optimistic blog post Olive Oyl Super Mum.

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

  1. Only I can give birth, so whether Popeye is there or not is kind of irrelevant when you get down to the nitty gritty.
  2. They will bond, whether that’s now or in a few months.
  3. It’s not the job that stops some men being the best dad they can be.
  4. It’s not the quantity of time you spend with your baby it’s the quality.
  5. 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. 


So don’t worry mamas to be. You’ve got this.

Muchos love,

Olive x 

Eating cake in the name of charidee

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- 

Hope you can make it!

Muchos love,

Olive x 

You really don’t have to be a cool military wife

You really don’t.

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.

Muchos love,

Olive x 

Farting when they’re home

When your partner is away you can independently let loose with (ahem) flatuence – whenever you need to.


For civvy couples this kind of thing doesn’t happen to them.

They must have a well worked out routine of either: 

  1. Storing up farts until one of the couple falls asleep-then letting loose.
  2. All out, no hold barred, ass emissions as and when necessary.

I don’t really see any middle ground here for them civvies.

However- In the Oyl household, or maybe just in military households: 

Farting is definitely option 2 when Popeye is deployed, and then I try my very best for option 1 when he is home ( at least for the first two weeks of leave).

With the Oyl Household system, there is, an unfortunate overlap come homecoming time.

This time, when he has just come home. That magical time when he’s still unpacking, you are trying not to yell at the children and also trying not to guzzle the wine at the rate you normally do.

When you are trying to be sexy and cool and up-together.

When you are a trying to be a Kirsty Allsop- esque mum. And failing.

And then. There’s a rumbling.

The old pelvic floor gives a creak and-

You guff.

Its not even a quiet one. Not even one you can blame on the kids or the dog.

It’s bad.

In both the olfactory sense and the relationship sense. It’s bad.

And then you look at him and see his momentary disgust. Then humour. And ultimately his respect.

Because yes I fart. And yes he loves me.

Not in spite. 

But because.


Because he loves me and because (shock horror) humans pass gas. This is what our bodies do when we are healthy and fucking comfortable. 

It is embarrassing for that micro second before he laughs and before I remember he has encountered much worse on deployment. 

(P.s screw you Kirsty “let’s-all-casually-weave-a-basket/go-glass-blowing”- Allsop).

Muchos love ❤️ 

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.

I’ve broken a cardinal rule of navy wifedom

I’ve broken one of the cardinal rules of navywifedom.

I’ve booked a holiday for when the ships due back.


Oh yes. 

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 

  1. Freaking out about my (21st) birthday
  2. Freaking out about having to see popeye and wear a bikini around him straight away.
  3. Going on holiday with a man I haven’t seen in almost a year with two toddlers
  4. The navy fucking up my (poorly laid) plans.
  5. The actual logistics of sorting the house/kids/myself out, going to homecoming, turning around and bombing it down the A303

This will not be me.
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?

Discuss.

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 yes I did have to rebook the flipping holiday. I can hear the “I told you so’s” from here. Muchos love x 

Doing things and seeing people- aka mid deployment leave

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. 

Basically time maths came round and bit me on the ass! Time is not the navy wife’s friend. At least it’s not 50% of the time.

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. 

Love a bit of Bree

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). 

So much wholesome family fun at the zoo. There was a huge tantrum and Sweetpea wet herself 5 mins after this was taken.

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. 

This family is not real and does not exist.

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.

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

Phonecalls post kids

Pre motherhood phonecalls were excellent. Really top notch. Beautiful examples of clear adult communication.

I mean, we got cut off every five minutes or there would be some jarring darlek- like announcement from time to time but looking back, I can say, hand on my heart they were bloody lovely. 

Since being blessed with two delightful toddling sprogs with only an 18 month age gap I can safely say phonecalls are shite.

Now, not only do I have to compete with the signal cutting whims of Mother Nature, and the urgently announced need for WO Pugwash to hot foot it to X deck for tea and crumpets with El Captaino, I also have to compete with two screaming small people.


They are happily smacked up on CBeebies, or whatever the latest offering from the iPad is, when the phone rings. 

I spring into action, drop the latest pile of plastic tat I’m tidying, or clothes I’m about to wash, or the cloth that’s wiping rice crispies laced with fucking mastic off of the high chair and get to that phone.

The very split second I answer, the nano moment I depress the talk button with my thumb, the very instant I reach my goal- it happens. 

My two little contented angels morph into the spawn of the kraken.

They simultaneously start screaming and shouting at me, whilst making a beeline for my calves. I don’t know why they do it, I don’t know how they do it. To be honest with you I don’t really care. The point is they bloody do do it.

So that’s the beginning of the phonecall buggered then. 


The rest of it is usually a disjointed conversation, half me trying (and failing) to tell Popeye about my day. The other half is a disjointed running commentary, of what Popeye must only be able to imagine is some kind of scaled down humanitarian crisis. It goes a little bit like this:

“…yeah so I’m really hoping that I can get X done at work tomorrow. Sweetpea put that down, no now, mummy is getting cross, … otherwise it will really mess up the deadline, what is that? No, mummy will take that, it can hurt you, you will cry and need to go to the doctor. Yes the doctor will make your owies all better, but that’s not the point! …that I’ve got on Monday.

I spoke to my sister the other day, yeah she’s fine, she’s moving house and- oh shit Sproglets got a sippy cup full of squash, hang on, (cue wrestling-a-ten-month-old-over-a-cup noises) –give it to mummy, good girl, it’s ok don’t cry. Sproglet  here, look! How about this toy ooh look it’s got lights WOW!…so they haven’t set a date for completion but it should be exchanging in the next- Sweetpea give it back to your sister, no, she had it first, give it back now please. Show mummy your BEST sharing!

So how are things with you? Really? Cool. Oh hang on  Sweetpeas just come over. What’s the matter? You need a poo. Of course you do. Ok yes mummy will come with you and help. 

What’s that Popeye? You need to go? You’re tired. Of course you are. I know how hard you work. No it’s fine. NO! DO NOT TRY TO WIPE IT YOURSELF! I’ve got to go too, love you, bye *click*.

And all of a sudden I’m standing there in the bathroom staring at a toddlers poo-ey bum wondering what the hell we just spoke about.

And realising how bloody excellent pre kids phonecalls were. 

Muchos love, 

Olive