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”.

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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”

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“I could SO go for another 9 monther right now” said no Military Spouse ever.

 

 

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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 

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.

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

Ive got to stop hiding.

Keeping up a front of “coping”during a deployment is exhausting.

It is so exhausting that I can’t actually do it in front of my closest friends. I know if I see them and we have a quiet moment (I.e I have bribed the sprogs with biscuits or quavers or similar) they will ask how I’m doing. 

And I will lose it. The floodgates will open and I will cry. I will get all snotty. I will be a total tit. 

Even if I am actually doing ok. Even if today was going alright up to this point. Even  if I got an email this morning. 

And then, then I will have this weird compulsion to apologise for being like this and will start to call myself names to lighten the situation. 

“I’m being an idiot”

“My god he’s only been gone X weeks, im such a loser”. 

“This is pathetic I’m so sorry!”

Then usually crack a joke. 

So I avoid my nearest and dearest in the beginning. Because with them I can let my guard down. Because with them I can let rip because I feel safe and supported. Because with them I can become a snotty, blubbering mess.

They’ve already seen me at my worst. Either puking in a toilet crying about a boy and how I’m never ever drinking sambuca again (uni and “wild youth” friends), or utterly zombiefied with massive black bags under my eyes and no make up with my v sore nipples out trying to work out the sodding latch (early motherhood/breastfeeding friends). 

So me having a howl at the dining room table clutching a coffee whilst CBeebies blasts out of the living room isn’t all that shocking.


But I don’t want to get in that state.

I am coping, I’m doing this deployment. If they ask me how I am and I lose it then surely I am not coping. 

That’s just logic.

Except I know that it’s not true. Yes I am coping. I mean, everyone is alive, clean fed and dressed. I’m still getting out and about and we still have lazy days. 

Maybe breaking down in tears is part of coping , it’s just the part we all forget from time to time.

Maybe I need to let go of the pressure of being a navy wife and a mum with a deployed sailor from time to time. Like a release valve. So that I can keep going, one coffee at a time.

Post Telephone Sadness Disorder (PTSD)

Phone calls. They are, for some military wives, the silver lining in the shit storm of deployment.

You look forward to them, keep the phone near you, you might organise a good time to call or you might get the surprise of your life, anytime day or night, of the home phone going and the mad scramble to answer it, abandoning any menial task (like feeding your baby), to race towards that noisy cuboid full of promise. 

A phonecall from your sailor is a drug, and you never know when you’re going to get your next hit. And boy oh boy how you  crave it.


To hear their voice can be the pivotal point of my week, the elation I feel when I hear his answering “hello, it me” is bloody mighty. 

And then it’s over, they have to go back to work, or get in the taxi in some tropical haven, or (more likely) you get cut off suddenly. 

After the phonecall, I suffer a massive comedown-  I get Post Telephone Sadness Disorder, PTSD. 

Post Telephone Sadness Disorder is characterised by the following-

  • Moping
  • Looking at Facebook photos of Popeye
  • Staring at the home phone willing it to ring again
  • Temporary consumption of excessive amounts of chocolate (on a school night) or port (love a bit of port) and quavers
  • Alternating between big cuddles for the sprogs and shutting myself in the kitchen because they are doing my nut in. 
  • More moping
  • Rereading emails I’ve sent and he’s sent
  • Random sighing
  • Watching twilight (I don’t know why, I guess phone PTSD effects us all differently). 

Luckily, unlike its much more serious name twin actual PTSD, the effects of phone PTSD are relatively short lived, don’t (significantly) effect daily functioning and (hopefully) invokes pleasant flashbacks and memories.

Phone PTSD is a bitch. But it’s a condition I’m happily putting up with because the phonecalls are so worth it. Now I think about it, it really is actually a bit like a drug comedown (I imagine, I have no experience unfortunately I’m far to boring for any wild youth experience in that department). 

But it’s a side effect of deployment that we’ve got to live with. A bitter sweet reality that adds a little variety to the day to day routine and the (fucking huge massive scary) countdown. 

It’s a condition that we do live with. Another aspect of deployment civvies never really understand, so I like to do it in style, quavers and port at the ready. 

Starfishing: It’s overrated.

One of the supposed “perks” about deployment is being able to starfish in bed.

Hell its such a well known supposed perk I even blogged about it- here.

It wasn’t a hugely successful blog post and now I have figured out why.

Because starfishing is fucking bollocks.


If you’re a military spouse anyway.

It is so unilaterally shit to roll over half asleep, throw your arm over and cuddle… nothing. Mainly because in your half asleep state you have totally and utterly forgotten about the sodding arse ache deployment and therefore also forgotten he has gone.

So your peaceful, possibly-rude-dream-filled-slumber, has been ruined. All because you dared to forget for thirty seconds that they’ve deployed. You utter monster. 

Or you wake up slowly, a few minutes before the alarm/toddler has gone off, and stretch out. The early morning light fills the curtains, maybe a bird is singing or something. 

You stick out a (slightly fuzzy deployment) leg, fully expecting to happily collide with the muscly sea salted leg of your sailor. You find…. Nothing. Nada, zip, zilch. Just the 100% cotton fitted sheet from primark (or the dog- which is just weird). 

You circle your leg around in the bed, searching and searching in a half asleep state for his leg, like trying to find your keys in your handbag after a night out.

Oh yeah, that’s right. He’s deployed isn’t he? Tits. Great. 

You try to block it out and go back to sleep. What were you dreaming about again? As for me, I try to nudge back into my semi conscious sleep state, it’s a lot more fun there, and (for the next few months at least) I’ll get a lot more action there than in real life. 

If (when) that fails, I stretch out in the bed. Arms open, legs akimbo. The standard starfishing position. I try to appreciate it. I really do. But I’d rather be smacking Popeye in the nose and kicking him in his junk than meeting the cold horizontal cliff face of my bedsheets.

Starfishing- it’s totally overrated. 

Muchos love,

Olive X 

I know I look crap, and I don’t even give a damn.