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.

Things I do when my husband isn’t here

I just got home without Popeye and strangely instead of crying or shouting or collapsing into the floor I stood in the middle of the room and let rip the biggest fart ever, right there in the living room. 

After the shock and knee jerk reaction blushing, all I thought was “fuck yeah Olive! Now I can do whatever the fuck I want to!”

It was liberating, it was exhilarating, it was a little bit scary.

And as I stood there post fart, hands on hips, chin up in what will now and forever be known as the F U Deployment Fart Pose, I got to thinking. 

What else can I now do that I can’t when Popeye is home?!?! 

This is what I have come up with so far whilst the girls are being raised on Peppa Pig and I curl up on the sofa trying not to cry:

  1. Spend ages looking for spots in the mirror.
  2. Watch such high brow TV as Buffy, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and GBBO.
  3. Let the dog sleep on the bed (shhhh).
  4. Put all of Popeyes clothes in a big pile in the bottom of the wardrobe so I can use his drawers for my stuff.
  5. Buy and eat food he doesn’t like all the time. YES!
  6. Fart as I go. 
  7. Actually talk to and meet up with friends instead of being a super flakey crap friend when he’s home.
  8. Go on social media all evening if I want to. Without feeling guilty im not spending magical romantic time with him. 
  9. Secretly throw out any of his honking Pussers socks that I come across. 
  10. Order whatever bloody dominoes I want (as a side note- there’s nothing wrong with Texas BBQ chicken).
  11. And potentially the most exciting thing- NO MORE STAR TREK OR GODDAMN PLAYSTATION!

What have I missed?

Muchos love,

Olive X 

My denial dinghy.

Popeye leaves for his 9 month deployment very very soon. Obvs can’t mention dates etc but let’s just say we aren’t talking weeks here.

He’s said his goodbyes to the outlaws and is gearing up to say tatty bye to our daughters. And I guess me too but I can’t even go there right now.

Each deployment is different. Usually I’m a sobbing, snotty, puffy eyed wreck (attractive). This time however I’m like totally numb. I’ve zoned out and can’t even get words out of my mouth when we talk about it.

 I have no idea why my brain has done this but all I can guess is my minds gone “no, no. Nope. Can’t handle this. Too painful. Too much. It’s too much! I’m checking out. See you later  conscious brain. Catch you laters!”

So I am calm. I am dangerously calm. Like  the normal emotional reaction is a rip current but I’m happily bobbing about on top on my dinghy. Probably doing a sudoku.

 My little escapist, denial dinghy that I’m fairly sure has a puncture. 


It’s going to deflate at some point and then I must face the depths of this. 

For instance, certain questions I should be addressing such as- 

How do we explain this to our two year old? 

My brain: No idea. We’ve got nothing here captain (plays magic roundabout theme tune loudly on repeat whilst doing some thing Pinterest fail-esque). 

Have we got all the grown up pre deployment shit sorted out? Like making sure his Skype account and mine are good to go. The emergency numbers and his phone card numbers are taped to the fridge, and the Christmas decorations are down from the loft.

My brain: yes, really should do this. Got loads of time (we don’t). Will just do this first (gardening/drinking wine/ starting a quilt). 

Spending quality time together.

My brain: so, it looks like date nights been a bit of a fail. Hey I know why don’t I write a blog post all about it instead of putting my phone down and giving it another shot. Genius.

Capturing each precious memory of the last week on film.

My brain: hey let’s leave the phone at home so you can’t take any pictures. Nothing like a bit of self sabotage to really help your early deployment mental health. Don’t want to make this easy for myself after all do I?

these photos were brought to you by random iphone gatherings over the summer.

I didn’t really know how to end this blog post (I blame my obviously faulty brain at this time) so I read it to Popeye and he said it’s because this time it’s not just about me and him. 

This time I have two children to care for. Two small people’s brains who are looking to me to see how to cope with this. 

This time is longer. 9 months is such a massive chunk of time when I think about it it makes my head go fuzzy and I start laughing in a slightly unhinged way.

This time it’s not just a couple saying goodbye, but a family saying goodbye. 

My family. 

Shit.

Normal service will resume shortly

The way I miss you.

It hits me in waves.

No pun intended.

The Missing You Tsunami smashes into me out of nowhere, dragging me out to sea.

I am lost. Swimming along the shore desperately searching for a way back to normal.

I doggy paddle, then front crawl, keeping my head above water until

A rip current rips me. Swirls me around and pushes me back out again.

It draws me out then feeds me back to the shore.

Tumbling and spluttering like some confused octopus I crawl back up the beach

Find my feet and 

Keep walking.

Keep walking.

Keep walking.

Until I hear the distant rumble,

And the Missing You Tsunami threatens me again. 

One woman’s homecoming is another’s goodbye

With the return today of HMS Defender (and if many of you wonder why I bang on about this ship in particular ok I will just say it- it’s Popeyes old ship where I met most of my NWBFFs and felt part of the Royal Navy community for the first time and not just some kind of Lone Ranger navy wife freak) and im filled with such excitement on their behalf, I’m so crazily proud of the families who have waited 9 months for them to finally come home. 

(After doing basically a 7 month deployment about 2 mins before this one- mental).

I can see the wives and the girlfriends, the sisters and the brothers and the mummy’s and daddy’s in my minds eye in a few short hours, finally getting that hug and kiss they’ve waited and waited and waited some more for.

9 month in, 9 months out
But as well as all of this excitement for them, and soppiness and nostalgia it’s reminded me that it’s my turn to say goodbye next. For 9 months.

And I am seriously freaking out.

After I did my first deployment and met Popeye at the homecoming I was naive. I didn’t pause to think there will be another one. And another and another. 

The second he stepped off the ship a new countdown started to the next time he would deploy.

What happened? We had a minimum of a 6 month deployment with less than 12 months inbetween for four years. That’s a lot of deploying.

It was awful. It was hard. It was surreal. 

But it was doable. I look back at “deployment Olive” with no small degree of awe. She was hardcore.

“Did really do that?”

How did I do all those deployments?”

Can I really do it all again?

(in a very small voice, like a stroppy toddler) “But I don’t want to!”

Thinking about this upcoming deployment is filling me with dread. Not just because I know how hard it will be, but because this time I’m on my todd with our two gorgeous baby girls. No pressure then.

And that’s going to bring a whole new level of shit and heartache and stress and strain that I haven’t encountered before. 

And that is a type of deployment I know nothing about. 

So watch this space my lovelies. Hopefully my blog will stay the chirpy quirky space it’s always been. Not some kind of weird online written record of my unraveling. 

I need success stories please!

So as the WAGs of HMS Defender wave that mighty ship home, with the sodding brass band blasting, and the little tug boat getting zilch recognition; my thoughts are bitter sweet and let’s be honest, a bit “me me me.” 

This navy life is (as my good pal Ronan would say) a roller coaster. 

I’d rather be on the dodgems. 

Muchos love,

Olive X