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-
- 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???
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