Super Positive Coping Mummy

Obvious statement alert: Deployment with children is very different to deployment when it’s just you to think about.

I mean, there’s the stuff  you kind of know you’re going to have to do; like explaining where mummy/daddy is, doing countdowns with sweets and sticker charts et al but what about the other stuff?

The stuff pre-children-navy-wife-olive had no idea about whatsoever.

Before starting a family I could (and did) wear pjs for a whole weekend, eat my weight in ice cream and have mad nights out with friends to numb the pain. I could cry at leisure and put on destinys child full blast whilst painting my toenails at 11pm at night because it made me feel better.

Now I have to be Super Positive Coping Mummy. SPC Mummy puts on a brave front, answers any and all heartbreaking “where’s daddy?” Type questions with a smile and a biscuit. SPC Mummy doesn’t drink (much) lovely lovely wine the night daddy goes because no matter what SPC Mummy is available 24/7 to attended to all and any small people needs. Including needing jam on toast at 5 freaking AM. SPC Mummy doesn’t get to watch soppy films all morning huddled under the duvet with chocolate, SPC Mummy is carrying on with going to the park, walking the dog and remembering to take carrier bags with her to Lidl.

Pre children when Popeye rang I was able to (literally) drop everything, hurdle the dog and drop roll over the coffee table to get to the phone.

Post children- I have missed the phone ringing due to bathtimes, being stuck under a sleeping newborn who has finally gone to sleep with the phone just out of reach, not to mention the ringtone obliterator that is sodding tots n tunes. Ten or so toddlers “singing” wind the bloody bobbin up is unsurprisingly incompatible with hearing Popeyes personalised “captain Pugwash” ringtone.

And if by some strange fluke of chance you actually get to answer the phone you now have to share those precious few minutes with a small person covered in jam that just wants to talk about Peppa Pig/ an interesting stone they found/ how mummy won’t give her another chocolate egg (side note: my daughter is still devastated Easter is over. Several months later she still blames me).

I never even considered having to explain to my toddler that every single boat does not have daddy on it. I never thought for a second that I would have to compare our family unit to that of Danny Dog from (of course) that Pig cartoon. Because Danny’s daddy goes away then comes back and decides to never leave again. So thank you for that conversation Peppa. Because my daughters daddy isn’t coming home for a long long time and then will have to go away again. And again. Unlike Mr Dog.

During bedtimes (when no one will just go the heck to sleep) I’ve daydreamed about a cartoon where there is an actual military family portrayed, showing our strength and resilience. Demonstrating the sacrifices we make in every day situations and it’s no biggie. How we switch from being a parenting team to the practical equivalent of single parents in the blink of an eye.

SPC Mummy probably should have her own TV show. Or at least a cape.

If it were a cartoon the most important thing it could  give my daughters is an example of how our military family is a normal family.

Even if they do have jam smeared on their faces and stones in their pockets, this is their normal and now a deployment with children has become my normal too.

SPC Mummy- away!!!!

*swirls around in her cape and flies off to solve another deployment related toddler question*

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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”

Image result for 1950s woman husband deploying
“I could SO go for another 9 monther right now” said no Military Spouse ever.

 

 

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 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. 

Coming clean: my secret NFF shame. 

Today I went down to my local Royal British Legion “Pop In” centre to meet some of the lovely people working with the Naval Families Federation (NFF).

Before I get on with all that- just as a side note- WHEN did the Royal British Legion get all hip and trendy and- dare I say it- cool? The centre in Southampton was all swanky and smart and brightly lit. And modern. And the staff there were young, friendly and normal.

I’m not gonna lie- I went there thinking it would be a run down social club, with years of fag smoke ingrained in the wood chipped walls. Possibly with a well trod dark plum carpet and dimly lit booths hiding old veterans eyeing me in my pink Vans and baby sling with suspicion. 

I was so so wrong. I have been on a reccy and I can report back- the Royal British Legion is NOT just for (grumpy) WWII veterans anymore! It’s for those youthful hipsters who have served or are serving! Spread the word! Their bars have cheap drinks! Oh yes, and they do a bit for charity too, by the by. 

  
Anyway. The actual point is that I have found out what the NFF do and who they are.

Now, admitting this is quite embarrassing considering I have been a navy wife for a good few years now, and that I’ve read their magazine Homeport for a good few years longer. Aaaaand also because I’m now writing in said NFF magazine. But I am putting my ignorance/stupidity out there for the greater good, the bigger picture, the grand scheme; I.e you lot. 

Yes I had no idea what they were about. I thought they were a bit possibly welfare-y, knew they had good competitions in their magazine, they explained to me a lot about what the Royal Navy actually do (apparently there’s more to it than breaking down again and again and getting drunk-who knew!) and that they talk about  the mysterious “Armed Forces Covenant” a lot. 

  
(You know when you start a new job and your new boss tells you a co workers name- you instantly forget that name. You see them every day at lunch or whatever and have a quick chat. Time goes by and soon it’s been waaaay too long and it would be waaay to embarrassing to ask their name so you just pray to god that someone else at work will ask them something using their name before you get found out? Yeah well basically that’s how it was between me and the NFF. Awkward.)
So what do the NFF do?

Basically we (as in us super duper navy families- or any forces family for that matter) cannot and should not be discriminated against because our loved one is in the Armed Forces. This can be obvious or accidental discrimination.

Like how if you move to a new area because of a draft you shouldn’t have to go to the bottom of a waiting list for a treatment on the NHS, or how mortgages shouldn’t screw us over if we have to rent out our homes because “ooh goody we’re off to live in gib for X years- what fun” or to make sure we’ve all heard of and applied for Pupil Premiums so our kids get what they’re entitled to from their school. It’s anything means you are at an unfair disadvantage because of your Popeyes job. 

The NFF have the welly, clout, guts, moxy and balls to take issues higher and higher up with companys or the actual proper government until such problems are rectified. All because of the Armed Forces Covenant says that we shouldn’t have to encounter stupid unfair crap from the rest of the world when there is enough official unfair crap flung our way courtesy of the Royal Navy. Or Army. Or RAF. 

(Note: The Armed Forces Covenant does not word it like this. This is the gist of it because I can’t remember exactly how Nicola from the NFF explained it.) 

The NFF is just for RN and RM families though. They are totally independent of the Royal Navy or Royal Marines. So they are really really on our side. 

The Army and the RAF have their own equivalent crack teams on the case. Like CSI Las Vegas, CSI NY and CSI Miami. 

I’ve totally gone off on a tangent. 

So yes the NFF are there to sort unfair stuff out, to fight on our behalf if needed and generally be a voice to us families to stop us getting screwed over in a civvy world. 

  
So now you know. Get in touch with them if you’ve got an issue that needs resolving. It will help other families who have come a cropper in the same situation. 

Hope this was interesting for you- I can now officially join in serious grown up conversations about government policies, society, the Covenenant and the NFF and not just nod/shake my head along with everyone else! Huzzah! No more blagging it for Olive! 

http://nff.org.uk

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/