Same/different. Deal with it.

So Popeye is coming HOME today!!!!!

Yippee! I have officially made it to the end of BOST (Basic Operational Sea Trials) without killing the children or having a nervous breakdown! Go me *proud face*!

I attribute my success in Forces Spouse Parenting to a winning combo of rosé spritzers after the kids bedtime, going out to the park a LOT and lowering my housekeeping standards to just above “slovenly”. 


Popeye phoned last night and because of crap signal we of course got cut off mid conversation (standard). 

I didn’t get to do my usual “Some things are different and some things are the same” potentially slightly patronising debrief. 

Let me elaborate, Popeye, and I suspect many other sailors and service persons out there, find it quite difficult to understand that time has passed here at home.

Some things have (duhn duhn duuuhn!) changed. The house he left does not look exactly the same as when he left. I have (shockingly) kept calm and carried on. Without him.

During the couple of months of BOST par examplé I have-

  • Moved the basket where we keep the towels and swapped it with the laundry bin. (Duhn duhn duuuuhn!)
  • Moved the microwave to under the boiler on the other side of the kitchen. (Omfg I’m a monster)
  • Put black out curtains up in sweet peas room because I was fed of of waiting for him to do it. (Sweet Jesus  the humanity!)
  • In a mad fit of “the good life meet gardeners world” weirdness I dug and planted a veg garden with tomato, courgette and runner beans. (Side note: there is an 80% chance they will all die). 
  • Bought two plants to put next to the front door so we look posher than we are. (They are from lidl. Fucking love lidl and its mystery aisle. )

oh la la its like being at downton here

So stuff has moved around. And there is new stuff in our house.

Popeye does not like this. I can just tell he feels uncomfortable or a bit miffed when he steps in the house and it’s not a photocopy of how it was when he left us.

I swear he thinks the second he departs on that bloody tin can time freezes here. 

Even though I do tell him on the phone that I’ve bought X, Y, Z or I’ve put up a picture or whatnot; he doesn’t really ever seem to register that it has actually happened. What I am telling you on the phone is my real life. Like actually real. 

Im not making it up. I’m not trying to dupe him. I’m not trying to make him feel out of place or confused in his own home. 

I’m running a household. I’m doing exactly what I would have done had he been here.

I won’t put my life on hold, or wait for him to be home in order to get stuff sorted out in Maison de Oyl. 

So I usually have a special “some things are different and some are the same chat”. 

Except I couldn’t this time because we got cut off after talking about the girls.

I guess that’s another different thing. He left me as a blubbering, exhausted, desperate for help mother of two under two asking herself “how am I going to do this with no help?!” 

Instead he will come back to find me a coping, exhausted mother of two under two. Still in need of help but not in that panic zone. Still in love with my Popeye, still hating the navy. 

look at me, freakin coping my ass off here

Because I’ve bloody done it. And it feels amazing. Amazingly different. And amazingly the same. 

Muchos love. 

Olive 

X

P.s if you like reading my blog, or if your wife/partner keeps sending you links to my posts and find yourself lol-ing when reading them onboard how about voting for me in the MAD blog awards? I’m a finalist in the best lifestyle blog category and it would mean SO much to win it. I’m the only forces person in the whole awards (guilt trip guilt trip). It takes 2 mins. Click right here and vote for ME! Ta muchly X 

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Not a copey kind of day

Dear husband,

I’m not feeling copey today.

I’m not feeling copey today and to be honest I’m feeling angry today. Strike that- im feeling furious today.

And I’m feeling guilty too because it will only be a few weeks. Maybe a month. Ok maybe it will be six weeks apart, two months tops. I just wish you could give me a fucking straight answer so I can plan my life a bit. Just a bit. Oh yeah and more than a days notice would be nice too. 


 I’m feeling angry that I have no control over these gut wrenching events in my life. The goodbyes and even the hellos. I’m feeling angry that at every goodbye you say you want to leave the navy once and for all. You keep throwing me into a turmoil of thinking “how will we manage financially?” And “should we move back to Somerset or would we stay here?” And “how will my part time wage support us?” Only for you to settle back into the routine onboard. Your conviction that this is the time you will hand your notice in fades away, like the shore fading  away on the horizon as you sail away from us. Me and the toddler and the baby. Your own personal cheer squad. How dare your job make them cry. 

  
I’m feeling guilty because other wives and girlfriends have it worse than me. They are doing 6 or even 9 month deployments and I have no right to be feeling this low. No right to be freaking out and crying already. You’ve been gone like two hours ffs.

 The other wives and girlfriends must be reading this thinking I should strap on a pair. And I should! I’ve done 6 years of long long deployments. I know I can do this.

But I’m fed up of never knowing when you’re coming home husband. I’m fed up of this bloody 9 month will they/won’t they deployment hanging over our head. Can’t they just decide either way? 

Why didn’t they build the ships so they effing work

So, in summary: angry at hubby/navy/world. Guilty because it’s not hubbys fault/ other wives would slap me round the face for moaning about this. Tired because of a toddler and baby. Fuzzy mouth and head because I drank a whole bottle of prosecco last night because of this craptastic news. 

Yep. Deffo not a copey kind of day so far. 

Love you though husband. Like totes foreves. I’ve got your back. 

Olive xxxxxx 

The Navy effect: When goodbye doesn’t mean goodbye.

I need to vent, here, in a safe space where I won’t jeopardise my marriage. First let me say I’m not so ungrateful that I don’t love having Popeye home as much as possible. I really really do. 

Ok I’m a navy wife, yes sure, but also I’m a mum. I’m a woman in my own right with a career and friends and stuff to do. 

As much as I love and adore and get a giddy thrill  out of hanging around waiting for Popeye to turn up after however long bobbing around on the big blue it may shock you to know that I don’t like being messed around

Saying goodbye is tough. In fact it’s worse than tough. It’s shit and getting shitter. Having kids has tipped me over the edge in terms of “goodbye tolerance”. Now, when it’s time for him to go, I just want him to go.  

Give us each a kiss, maybe give me a cheeky bum squeeze and go. And more importantly don’t come back!

  

Let me elaborate, due to the “technical issues” the type 45s have been having, “bye” hasn’t actually meant goodbye in our family for almost a month. A friggin month. A month of goodbyes, tears, getting my bum in gear to cope, getting wine in the fridge, giant bars of chocolate in the cupboard, sky+ing “my” programs on TV and getting on with it.

Only for Popeye to turn up! Again! At home! His two feet decidedly still on the land! 

Cue my heart leaping through my chest with happiness, soaring endorphins, goofy grins, cancelled plans with friends and having celebratory takeaways. 

Until tomorrow. And tomorrow’s goodbye. Tomorrows heartache. Looking at our little girls face again and explaining “Daddy’s going night night on his boat, bye bye Daddy.” Waving his car off the driveway and wiping a tear away. Again. 

Again I get my bum in gear. Again  I shift, smoothly and silently into deployed single parent mode. I galvanise myself and my household into coping with Popeye being away. To this being a one-woman show. Complete with fish fingers for dinner, slobbing around watching Peppa Pig and not prioritising washing any of Popeyes stuff. Classy. 

Hang on a sec! what’s that noise? His key turning in the lock? Joy of joys he’s home! It’s brilliant to see him, of course it is. 

But keeping this up is exhausting for me! It can’t be healthy to be up on cloud 9 with a surprise bonus night or weekend of leave to then crash back down with a bump to the horribleness of goodbyes.

(not actually popeyes hand btw)

I know it’s not his fault the ship keeps breaking. I know it’s a fleet wide problem blah blah blah. But what is also a fleet wide problem is the families who are on a non stop roller coaster of not knowing which way is up, when their sailor is going to be home or what the hell is going on! 

Planning a life, or any kind of stability, in this atmosphere of uncertainty feels like trying to eat a picnic in a whirlwind. Which is a weird analogy but it’s the only one I can think of that fits.

 I keep trying to get on with our lives but then “the navy effect” happens and we are once again riding those emotional waves before Popeye has even got onto the real ones. Often with little or notice and whether we want to or not. 

Wife Operational Sailor Trials (WOST) 

Whilst my Popeye and his shipmates faff around (not) going on BOST (basic operational sea trials FYI)- myself and the other wives and girlfriends of their ship have had enough. 

We have had enough of them going then not going, it’s not our fault everything keeps breaking on their ship. 

So we’ve decided that we need to get Deployment Ready too. 

We are going on WOST. Wife Operational   Sailor Trials. To get us primed and ready for when they actually deploy. (It’s totally for girlfriends/fiancés and boys too btw but WGFBOST didn’t have the same ring to it).

We are going OUT (and when we say we are going we are actually going to GO. Unlike certain sailors I won’t mention. Ahem.) 

To be authentic we need to go to Plymouth and not answer our phones or ring our sailors unless it’s on the way to the taxi before we go out. 

We obviously all have to get absolutely steaming drunk as quickly as possible AND we all have to get up and go to work the next day as if nothing had happened and we’d all had a glorious 12 hour sleep.

I have volunteered to take one for the team and be the groups mandatory person who gets in a fight and gets arrested/brought back by the (non military) police. 

  
Other essential WOST roles include, but are not limited to: 

Someone to call their sailor at 2am to tell them “how mush I love you, I raally raally do, you dahhnt understan” -waking everyone around their sailor. The group as a whole will then shout things down the phone to them before a rousing singsong- sung with gusto, but completely off key. 

Someone will lose their phone, glasses and/or purse containing ID and credit cards. 

One of us needs to have no self control at all and completely trash their (hotel) room. They will rack up a MASSIVE bill for the mess they’ve made (you might even call it a “mess bill”- lol see what I did there?!). The more disgusting and random the better. 

Ooh yes – another person needs to come out with us and not drink, then go back early muttering about how they’d “rather be back with my sailor than here with you bunch of idiots”. Or similar diatribe.

We need a “wanderer”- someone in the group who wanders off at some point in the night- possibly to fall asleep in a storage  container or other random location. We then don’t hear from them for the remainder of the night. They have no idea where they went and use their bank statement as indication of what they got up to. Only to be thwarted because, when on WOST, you have to only take out cash with you.

On that note- we all have to withdraw far far too much money than we can afford and spend it. All. We will then have to use our bank card to pay for our kebabs at the end of the night. 

We may split into two groups, half will stay in a small Irish bar debating and arguing over anything and everything until the wee hours. The other half will go to an increasingly crap number of nightclubs where we will effectively cock block each other for a laugh. This group will end up in either a strip club or a casino or both. 

Also we will organise to have WOST at the most inconvenient time possible- preferably on the ONLY night our sailors have free so we don’t get to spend any quality time together before they deploy. Splendid. 
Finally if we come home at all we will come home approximately 5 hours later than we said we would and leave dominoes pizza in the living room for the kids to find at 6am. 

WOST complete. 

Muchos love, 

Olive

X

P.s BIG thanks to the ladies from Popeyes ship for inspiring this post! 

P.s 2-BIG thanks to the ladies from Popeyes old ship for the photo- it’s from the night I went into labour with Sweetpea! 

P.s 3- if you can think of any other essential WOST roles I’ve missed- please let me know. No one wants to be underprepared for a deployment after all. 

Operation Get My Shit Together.

I need to take a moment to absolutely sing the praises of the Royal Navy Welfare team.

The other day I had some personal stuff going down and to put it bluntly, I was not coping. I was a snotty, blubbering, gaspy-breathing, high pitched-fast talking wreck. 

(I don’t mind sharing this with you dear readers as I am assuming this has/may/will unfortunately happen to some of you at some point and I desperately want you to know that it’s okay to fall apart- just never stop trying to get back in one piece again. 

Ok that sounded a bit like one of those lame inspiring memes that pop up on annoying people’s newsfeeds. Yeesh -promise it won’t happen again. 

Anyway, yes, so I was a big bag of losing it freak out jelly. I had done all the civvy things available to me- called my mum, talked to friends, been to the doctor, emailed Popeye, called my mum again, googled the crap outta everything vaguely related to being stressed and unable to cope, and walked the dog whilst wearing sunglasses so no one could see me crying. 

(I really hope all that’s normal). 

So Popeye calls and basically at this point orders me to get in contact with the welfare team (actually his exact words were “Olive the second you get back bloody call welfare. I can’t do anything from here I’m on BOST babe”. Like I needed another reason to hate BOST). 

And I’m so glad I did! 

It wasn’t the best first impression granted. My apparently psychic Sweetpea kicked off at the precise second the phone got answered, and I cried hysterically to this complete stranger on the phone for five minutes with a baby howling in the background and a dog barking at the postman. Nice. 

So she- Mrs Awesome Welfare Woman- called me back ten minutes later and just helped. She listened to me moan, she helped me work out a plan to get my personal stuff sorted out, she explained what the hell welfare do and most importantly she got me to calm the fuck down. 

(Btw welfare is there to ensure we get the help and support we need so that our sailors can stay at work. They are literally there to get us back to being the super-coping-awesome-sex-kitten-domestic-goddess-earth-mother-high flying-career-woman navy wives that we are.) 

So anyway my lovely welfare woman is calling me next week to see how Operation Get My Shit Together is going. I know they can’t fix my problems but omg it’s good to have some support from the navy for once! And this post is just to say they are lovely people, don’t be afraid to contact them if you need to and a big thank you to them really. 

Wish me luck! 

Muchos love 

Olive

 (aka soon to be reinstated super-coping-awesome-sex-kitten-domestic-goddess-earth-mother-high flying-career-women navy wife). 

Socialising and trying not to be mental.

I think being a navy wife has made me slightly unbalanced. Please feel free to judge me, because I feel quite guilty about it, even though I am actively trying to remain stable and rational.

Especially when I compare me, in my time-greedy-navy-wife marriage to “everyone else” and their civvy-wholesome-sensible relationships.

Let me explain a bit,

Popeye is generally away for six/seven months, then home for about 3 out of 4 weekends a month the rest of the year, bar lovely lovely leave. So suffice to say, our time together is precious. (This time of course does not include time apart for effing BOST, Super-Annoying-Promotion courses of Stress And Grumpiness, or SAPSAGs for short or any other ridiculous and possibly pointless jaunts around the home waters).

(As a side note I once calculated the actual number of days per year we would spend together, including summer and Easter leave. All I can say is DONT DO IT. Deployment Maths is evil and led to me having a massive cry and freaking out about how we were ever going to make this marriage work. Not a good idea mid deployment, or anytime for that matter.)

Without fail on those precious Fridays he can actually come home ( crazy idea I know) at approximately 4pm our world is paused and our metaphorical drawbridge goes up.

We hole up in our house and because a)he’s a chef b) I don’t want to leave his side for more than 10mins to shower/pee, we order takeaway and totally veg out. Then we spend the remainder of the weekend hiding from friends and relatives and generally being lazy, spending money we don’t have and eating out, a lot.

We do venture out from time to time and actually see other people, and when we do I have to remind myself to share. Share my husbands company that is.

I restrain myself from standing on the edge of the circle of guys talking about football and cars and simply strain my ears trying to eavesdrop from the girls circle, only vaguely listening to our conversation, and replying with vague “mmm hmm’s”, “yeah I know” and “no way”‘s as appropriate. This has back fired on me several times when I’ve said something like “yeah I know” to someone’s horrible bad/ serious news like their dog died or they’ve lost their job or they think they might be gay. There are times when I gravitate over to where hubster is and laugh a split second too late at a joke I haven’t really heard. Awkward.

If someone dares to say that we should split up for a bit during a night out, i.e boys go to a different bar, girls will catch up later, I get a bit of a sicky feeling, and I start doing Deployment Maths (Deployment Maths is a bit like OCD, so when this happens on a night out with friends you can’t help but calculate that out of the 48 hours he’s home for, he will spend 16 sleeping/being hungover, 8-12 hours socialising, you will spend x hours going to/from said friends house therefore leaving you with approximately 5 hours together all weekend. And he’s not home for another month.)

I KNOW how totally clingy and mental this makes me sound, I’m a trained psychologist remember, however, I am at the merciless grip of Deployment Maths. My only defence is that in these cases I don’t let the panic get me. I smile, wave goodbye to Popeye and quickly order a double, hey if he’s getting those 16 hours, I might as well too.

Popeye copes much better at social gatherings such as the above than I do. He is chatty to everyone, to the point where he’s sharing stories from life on board that I haven’t even been told. It’s like finding out about this whole side of him he doesn’t think is all that relevant or interesting when he’s home and we are hiding with the home phone off the hook.

If your sailor, like mine, literally sends a variation of the same email every day week for 6 months, these escapades and anecdotes of daring do’s and hilarious scrapes from deployment can leave you feeling, well, quite surprised and then miffed to be honest. Popeye literally sends this email to me 80% of the time whilst deployed, ahem:

hey baby, nothing much is going on here, same old stuff. I miss you loads and I can’t wait to see you, all my love, Popeye.

Every email. For 6 months. Seriously.

This has led me to conclude that he either-forgets about these adventures on the high seas/around the globe, can’t be bothered to tell me, or doesn’t have time to email me the details. To this day, I still have no idea which of these theories is true. I’m leaning towards the former as its not so depressing.

So when my super-sonic-social-gathering hearing picks up on how he stole a giant fish from a bar in New York and they got pulled over by the police with said giant fish in the back of their car, or how his friend broke his collar bone trying to do a breakdancing move in Norway or whatever, I am just a tad peeved.

Is it wrong that I feel a pang of jealousy that Popeye doesn’t share these stories with me when we’re sitting at home watching tv and snuggling on the sofa? Or is it that he doesn’t feel they are important enough to waste our precious paradigm phonecall minutes on? I’m not one to disapprove, in fact I think it’s bloody hilarious the stuff him and his shipmates get up to, so that can’t be it. No, it’s more likely that when he’s home he, and I, mentally “shut off” the outside world, including navy dits, bills, report writing or visiting my grandparents.

When he phones home its for a bit of escapism from what generally is drudgery day to day on the ship. He wants to hear about what he misses, not relive another day apart, no matter how much fun he’s had. Rather wait until he’s been home, had some downtime with the drawbridge up, then go out and entertain. My husband the social butterfly who just wants to come home and forget all about work. Until he’s got an audience. Bless him.