Mama’s had a day

Oh oh oh (or should that be Ho Ho Ho given the festive season is deffo upon us?) I have had a BAD day.

Compounded by the serendipitous sods law that this weekend Popeye is duty watch. Of course.

First of all- I committed a major Mum Fail. I forgot Christmas Jumper Day. This puts me squarely on Father Christmas’s naughty list. And Sweetpeas naughty list too if the meltdown she had in the playground this morning is anything to go by.

Picture the scene: It was a cool crisp morning. We were characteristically running late because Mummy had had too many Sauvignon Blancs and had stayed up to watch the election results come rolling in.

We briskly (because of the aforementioned lateness) walk across the playground and she notices that “EVERYONE IS WEARING CHRISTMAS JUMPERS MUMMY! Why have I NOT GOT MINE???”

As other parents dropped of their kids with a kiss on the cheek and a wish of “have a good day darling cherub!” My darling blessings had a meltdown, in the middle of the playground complete with loud wails of “why did you forget mummy- I TOLD you to check the newsletter!!!” (Sweetpea is 5 but has a better handle on current affairs in her world than many of the major politicians at this time).

So after chucking her at the classroom door I grabbed sproglet and we dashed back home. I found a sparkly Christmas-esque jumper, drove back and lobbed it at the unsuspecting receptionist.

“Now” thinks me “im glad that’s over…on with my day”.

I had planned to go to the garage to fix a slow puncture. It was only a 20 min wait, sproglet entertaining the other customers by trying out new cars to buy and being very excited that the map of the country on BBC news was blue- her favourite colour.

Over the polite/slightly annoyed chuckles of the other customers and vauxhall staff, I am informed that my tyre has a nail in it that has gone through to the inner bit and also it’s on the side of the tyre and therefore it cannot be repaired and I need a whole new tyre. (I have no idea what an inner tyre is or why the outside of the wheel is so vulnerable versus the middle bit but whatever).

I calmly enquire how much a new tyre will be. They reply. I think I may be having some kind of stroke. I ask them to repeat the figure. I have a mild panic as we are well skint in the run up to Christmas and we don’t have spare cash pouring out of our orifices to spoof away on tyres.

Luckily for me- I have my credit card. Strictly only to be used for Very Serious Grown Up Emergencies and definitely not to be used for any of the following:

  • Barbie Mermaid films on Amazon Prime
  • The latest series of The Handmaids Tale
  • Monthly beauty box subscription
  • Clothes
  • Emergency wine.

Even though I obviously would never EVER use my Grown Up credit card for the above- it mysteriously had drawn itself nearer its limit. I knew this, sitting in the Vauxhall garage. I felt a bit sick.

Nonetheless I knew I could use it for such an extravagance as a tyre. I pulled out my purse, to find the credit card, with hair flick and a confident smile to the garage man (no one wants the garage man to know you’re skint) aaaaand it’s gone.

Not there.

I give a high pitched slightly hysterical giggle and pull out ALL my cards. Debit card x 2, library card, national insurance card, driving licence, several old gift cards that have about £0.05 balances, zoo pass, gym pass, club card, THREE casino cards (embarrassing), my maternity exemption certificate (my kids are 3&5 years old-no idea why I still have that).

No credit card. Gone.

I turn to poor innocent Sproglet who has a penchant for being a light fingered Dickensian thief playing with mummy’s things and interrogate ask her is she’s nicked borrowed one of mummy’s special money cards. She claims innocence.

So- in front of alllllll the people there (who knew Vauxhall dealers were so busy?) we leave. We are on a quest (I tell myself)- a quest to Find The MasterCard of Destiny.

We are cast out of the warm confines of the Vauxhall dealers. Out into the cold cold winter wind.

The main problem with this quest is that it is mid December. And on the day of the quest we were running late for the school run and there was the whole evil Xmas jumper day forgetting mother drama- so we

were NOT dressed for extreme cold. We had coats over T-shirt’s. No hat scarves or gloves. It was bitterly cold. Sproglet started crying. She fell over twice during the long trek back home. All the time I was worrying about where the fuck she had hidden her thief stash accidentally left my credit card.

We (eventually, after many trials and tribulations) get home. I set her up watching CBeebies (standard). I go for a fag and swear at the sky immediately start looting methodically searching the house.

I looked ALL MORNING. It was gone. Disappeared. Vanished.

Bollocks.

So I check my banking app. Hmm several transactions from Luxembourg. I have never been to Luxembourg. In fact I probably have only ventured as far as London in the last few months. I’m not entirely sure where Luxembourg is.

This is Luxembourg. Looks lovely doesn’t it. Shame it’s filled with credit card stealing twats.

Shit.

I ring Popeye. It goes to that snooty bitch otherwise known as “Voicemail” because he’s on ship.

I leave a second “losing my mind” voicemail (the first was mid walk home when I was cold, alone panicking and ashamed- I may have also sworn at him a bit- uncalled for. My bad).

Give up on contacting my husband. Remember I’m a Navy Wife. Realise I can do this. This is nothing compared to what I’ve coped with before.

I ring the bank. I speak to a lovely lovely lovely man called Rishi (who also spoke to Sproglet who was watching Moana- Rishi apparently looks like Maui- they spent some time bonding over this whilst I was trying to sort out my life).

Disclaimer: this is in no way an accurate representation of Rishi and his amazing customer service skillz

Rishi calmed me down and sorted out my funds. Credit Card is locked.

Me and Sproglet walk back in appropriate winter attire. By this time it’s time to pick up Sweetpea from school. We get home. Popeye rings. He has not heard the manic, panicked voicemails. I fill him in.

He has the termerity to ask me “what else did you manage to get done today?”.

My head explodes.

I open the wine and blog about it.

If you’re a military spouse- you get it.

As they say in Luxembourg- Proust!

Muchos love,

Olive x

P.s- also this:

Xxxxx

Pretty please can he have leave? With a cherry on top?

I want to talk about leave. More explicitly parental leave. Like when your toddler has decided to throw up at 7.35am and you’ve got a huge important meeting to go to. Or when your kid has conjunctivitis and your childminder can’t have them for one day. Or you’ve used up ALL your parental leave after the last d&v bug did the rounds and now you are facing eating into your annual leave or taking unpaid leave. Whilst your partner is around.

In most couples you have the option of one of you staying home for the compulsory 48hours or whatever until you can whack them back into childcare.

In military couples you are on your own. Shore draft or not. It doesn’t matter.

Although the Navy spouts that it will be flexible in terms of releasing service personnel when they are able to (I.e they are alongside, the ship is in dry dock or have a Mythical Shore Draft ) this, in my experience very very rarely translates to actual help. To an actual parent being ALLOWED to look after your sick child.

If you go to the Welfare service (which is ace but stringent- to weed out the piss takers obvs) or the Naval Families Federation then you can get help and be pointed in the right direction.

BUT that is very hard to do for the following reasons-

  1. It’s 7.36am you’re covered in vomit and you can’t get in touch with your Popeye

2. You can’t ring Welfare or the NFF because it’s sparrows fart o’clock in the morning and you need to ring Work for another parental leave day or sort out some last minute childcare NOW.

3. Your military partners boss has a stick up their ass that they can’t dislodge.

Now. Points 1&2 are either out of our control or are long term solutions to long running child healthcare issues. Point 3 is what really winds me up.

I get the feeling it’s very much of the school of thought of “Well it never did me any harm”- which can be roughly translated to:

“Well I was never there for my wife and she divorced me and that’s why I haven’t handed in my chit coped fine. He should do the same”

This attitude massively pisses me off for one thing it totally disregards the partners career- what if I am the main breadwinner?! Even if I’m not does that mean that my career is less important than his?!?

Does it mean that he shouldn’t be there for his child when he can be???

(Spoiler alert)

No it does not.

(*disclaimer* this whole blog post is very much about the ship being in dry dock/alongside/sitting around waiting to be fixed with harry black maskers/ mythical shore draft- I’m not talking about when the might of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy is flying at full sail.)

The other thing that really really pisses me off is that it actually goes against the Navys own ethos about supporting family life.

The very high ups would be shocked and disappointed that the lower ranks were are abusing their power in this way. Using petty technicality to foster resentment in a relationship, inequity in marriage and ultimately the discrimination in career prospects and performance for the military spouse is quite simply- wrong.

So- speak up! Get shitty! I know that your Popeye (if they are anything like mine) will be mortified that you have taken the initiative and contacted Welfare or the NFF. But do you know what?

It doesn’t matter. I know he will be scared that you speaking up for your legal and policy based rights complaining to Welfare will end up with him getting stick from his superior-

But it’s high time that, in this era of defence budget cuts, 9 month deployments and serious recruitment and retainment issues (and putting operational commitments aside) this culture of “it never did me any harm” should be totally stamped out- and a new culture and understanding of flexibility and responsibility was fostered by the Armed Forces.

Muchos love, Olive x

Screw your “normal”.

Screw your “normal”.

I don’t want normal.

I want heart racing, pulse hammering homecomings.

I don’t want mundane.

I want treasured kisses, appreciated gestures and hugs in the doorway that squeeze out my breath.

I don’t want “taken for granted”.

I want to feel a thrill when our eyes lock across a noisy family table.

I don’t want to become invisible.

I want tingles up my spine when you watch me walking back into the room. 

I don’t want to lose that lust.

I want you listen to what I have to say, because you respect me and my opinion.

I don’t want “yes dear”.

I want us to keep making an effort with our appearance.

I don’t want to get complacent.

I want to keep you guessing about me.

I don’t want to become predictable and average.

I want you sailor.

I don’t want ordinary.

Give me extraordinary any day. 

Muchos love,

Olive

X

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.