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.

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The 9 Monther

This special guest blog post is by one of my NWBFFs, “Pepper” (see what I did there- running with the condiments pseudonyms like a boss). Pepper is tackling a 9 month deployment after literally just finishing a 7 month one which is when we met as SWAGs (Sailor Wives And Girlfriends don’t you know). She’s here to tell us what the eff to expect and how shit it really is *gulp*. Take it away! 

The 9 Monther

Ok so “monther” isn’t actually a word, but it is what I and other MW are calling it, in fact it is the polite term used for this long, looooooooonnnnng deployment.

I have to confess that I haven’t been a navy wife for very long, just under 2yrs in fact, but in that time I have dealt with him leaving for a 6.5 ‘monther’, several mini deployments(3-6wks), BOST, extra sea trials, and we are just over the half way mark of a 9month stint. Yay! Deep-End well and truly jumped.

  

He was on the 6mth tour when we heard the dreaded news(via the news funnily enough, I mean why give us actual navy families a heads up? Let’s sell the idea to the all knowing civilians first), and safe to say us wags were pretty upset. BUT, our guys were already deployed so this won’t affect us for ages, right? HA! Wrong! 

4mths back just before Easter leave, the sailors are told they will be getting important news, WHEN THEY GO BACK!!! Seriously? Well done RN, just let us stress throughout the only time we’ve had in ages with our sailors. Well we did stress, as the RN are as transparent as clingfilm stretched thin on a toilet seat and just as unpleasant. 

The “news” as expected was a 9mth draft starting in 5mths. 
OK, OK, Calm down, it’s not that bad, I mean, this is what we “signed up for” right? …urgh, worst comment ever! But 9mths, not too bad, 40wks, 280 days…OMG! I can’t do this, nope, I CAN do this…the truth? I HAVE to do this because he HAS to do this. 
Anyway, you know the drill, we don’t see them much whilst they prepare to leave, if you’re lucky you get to spend a week or if you’re REALLY lucky 2wks just before they set sail. 

You console yourself with the other navy ladies, we are strong, we make plans to make it all easier, “look at it in chunks, not the entire thing”, ” 3mths until Christmas”…Oh God, Christmas! He’s not here, ok, it will be fine, it will distract us, 3 birthdays in December, Daddy isn’t going to be here, that’s fine, Mums do it alone all the time. New Year, well who cares anyway? It’s just another night, that’s what wine and Jools Holland is for.

The next chunk takes us to mid-deployment leave…that’s right, you heard me, MID-Deployment leave. They can come home, funded kindly by the MOD, TWO WHOLE WEEKS, well 2 days travelling, but that doesn’t matter, 12 WHOLE DAYS, OK there might be flight delays, but we are positive souls us Navy wives, all that matters is our sailors are coming home, and we get to see them, the children get to see them, their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…hang on! Where did your precious 12 days go? He hasn’t even landed yet and the whole thing is planned and your 12 days slumped in bed for lazy mornings, sofa days, the odd romantic meal, they’ve all started blurring into the distance before he even stepped foot on home soil.

 

another thing you can get done during 9 months
 
OK you’ve got this, you’ve got the exact dates he’s home well in advance so you can sort things with work etc, oh wait! You haven’t, what? So begin the panicked emails to your lovely sailor man, you “understand, it’s not your fault dear”, until the 100th email with nothing confirmed, then it “IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU AND YOUR STUPID NAVY JOB!!!” You get so riled that you’re not even sure you want them home, think of the disruption. All of a sudden your 12 precious days have whittled down to 8, maybe 9 because you haven’t been able to sort work at such short notice, but that’s OK, he can check in with the relatives whilst you work…
D-Day, you’re at the RAF airport, ID badge proudly on display, you’re getting your sailor back, you’ve done your Homecoming Maintenance, THEY LAND…with only 2hrs delay. BOOM! Time to see if that water proof mascara you bought especially, will hold up. And then they start coming through arrivals, you’re soooo excited, nervous, stomach clenching, and you spot your sailor and HE’S IN RIG!(right there and then you don’t care about the mascara, or the limited days), he’s home.
First night you get home, he drops his huge black bag, and hugs, so many hugs, smiles, tears, kids, dogs, cats. So much love, giggles. You find yourself wanting to get him everything at once. Is he hungry? Does he want tea/coffee/alcohol? Would he like you to cook? Ooooo take away? He chooses of course, you’re in your own little sailor love bubble…then bed, oh sweet heaven this is the best moment you’ve had in the 4mths since he left. FINALLY you have someone to “Netflix and Chill” with 😉…

You wake up, and excuse the language, you shit yourself that someone’s in your bed, but then the sweet realisation hits that it’s your sailor.

From that point the clock is ticking, you know that this isn’t homecoming, this is all going to end soon, way, WAY too soon. So it begins, everything you planned, well it’s actually revised a little, you haven’t taken into consideration that he wants to spend an “hour” on the Xbox, or have a loooong nap due to working and flying. That’s OK, let’s take it easy. Which you do, a bit too easy, next thing you know 5 days have gone by and you have hardly seen any of your family members, he never did the rounds whilst you were in work, he was actually doing the chores around the house that you planned to take up a maximum of 30min, until he explains that a “broken shower head” is in fact a broken pipe and takes half a day. So you start arranging to visit people, resenting the precious time it is taking away from your time with him(or is that just me?), “wish I’d just planned a family get together, that would’ve only taken up an evening and then he’d be all mine again”
Day 9, the plans have gone out of the window, you wake up feeling sad, the euphoria of having him home has ebbed, leaving a rock in your stomach and a lump in your throat. You spend every minute you can watching him, smelling him, staying up waaaay too late so you can squeeze as much time together as possible. You know what’s coming, Hell! It was only 4mths ago that you were going through the exact same thing. This time though you actually REALLY do hate the navy. You hate the 9monther, MID-DEPLOYMENT leave sucks ass! Whose stupid idea was this? Who is so callous as to think it’s OK to dangle your sailor in front of you, only to tear him away again after a few fleeting days? You wish he hadn’t come home, you don’t want to say goodbye again. NO! NO! NO! 

You avoid looking at him, it makes you well up, when you catch each others eye, you both have that ‘knowing’ look. “I’m going to miss you so much” becomes the beginning of every conversation.
It’s time. Your bubble is burst, your sailor is in RIG and you hate it, he’s leaving you again. You tell each other you are half way done, “HEY! We got through the worst part, it didn’t go THAT slowly, we got this”…except you haven’t. Right there and then you haven’t got this. He’s leaving for over another 4mths, longer if it’s extended, shhhhh! That won’t happen. This time it’s only Easter, more birthdays, Spring/summer weddings, anniversaries, children’s exams, plays, graduations that he’s missing. 

It’s basically another bloody deployment, and it sucks!