Super Positive Coping Mummy

Obvious statement alert: Deployment with children is very different to deployment when it’s just you to think about.

I mean, there’s the stuff  you kind of know you’re going to have to do; like explaining where mummy/daddy is, doing countdowns with sweets and sticker charts et al but what about the other stuff?

The stuff pre-children-navy-wife-olive had no idea about whatsoever.

Before starting a family I could (and did) wear pjs for a whole weekend, eat my weight in ice cream and have mad nights out with friends to numb the pain. I could cry at leisure and put on destinys child full blast whilst painting my toenails at 11pm at night because it made me feel better.

Now I have to be Super Positive Coping Mummy. SPC Mummy puts on a brave front, answers any and all heartbreaking “where’s daddy?” Type questions with a smile and a biscuit. SPC Mummy doesn’t drink (much) lovely lovely wine the night daddy goes because no matter what SPC Mummy is available 24/7 to attended to all and any small people needs. Including needing jam on toast at 5 freaking AM. SPC Mummy doesn’t get to watch soppy films all morning huddled under the duvet with chocolate, SPC Mummy is carrying on with going to the park, walking the dog and remembering to take carrier bags with her to Lidl.

Pre children when Popeye rang I was able to (literally) drop everything, hurdle the dog and drop roll over the coffee table to get to the phone.

Post children- I have missed the phone ringing due to bathtimes, being stuck under a sleeping newborn who has finally gone to sleep with the phone just out of reach, not to mention the ringtone obliterator that is sodding tots n tunes. Ten or so toddlers “singing” wind the bloody bobbin up is unsurprisingly incompatible with hearing Popeyes personalised “captain Pugwash” ringtone.

And if by some strange fluke of chance you actually get to answer the phone you now have to share those precious few minutes with a small person covered in jam that just wants to talk about Peppa Pig/ an interesting stone they found/ how mummy won’t give her another chocolate egg (side note: my daughter is still devastated Easter is over. Several months later she still blames me).

I never even considered having to explain to my toddler that every single boat does not have daddy on it. I never thought for a second that I would have to compare our family unit to that of Danny Dog from (of course) that Pig cartoon. Because Danny’s daddy goes away then comes back and decides to never leave again. So thank you for that conversation Peppa. Because my daughters daddy isn’t coming home for a long long time and then will have to go away again. And again. Unlike Mr Dog.

During bedtimes (when no one will just go the heck to sleep) I’ve daydreamed about a cartoon where there is an actual military family portrayed, showing our strength and resilience. Demonstrating the sacrifices we make in every day situations and it’s no biggie. How we switch from being a parenting team to the practical equivalent of single parents in the blink of an eye.

SPC Mummy probably should have her own TV show. Or at least a cape.

If it were a cartoon the most important thing it could  give my daughters is an example of how our military family is a normal family.

Even if they do have jam smeared on their faces and stones in their pockets, this is their normal and now a deployment with children has become my normal too.

SPC Mummy- away!!!!

*swirls around in her cape and flies off to solve another deployment related toddler question*

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Deployment dreams

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.

Soooo….

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 

  • Alan Titchmarsh


    And

    • 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?!

    Muchos love

    Olive x 

    Well Meaning People- Part 2

    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”.

    Related image
    Excuse me? Wtf did you just say to me?

    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?

    Image result for 1950s woman pissed off
    “Im just going to file that comment under “B” for Bullshit.”

    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.

    Yours in frankness,

    Olive Oyl,

    Muchos Love xxxx”

    Image result for 1950s woman husband deploying
    “I could SO go for another 9 monther right now” said no Military Spouse ever.

     

     

    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