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?

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.

Saying goodbye. The ugly truth. 

Goodbyes. They ain’t pretty. 

And I’ve got something awful to tell you. Something I’ve only just figured out after almost 5 years of marriage.

They DONT GET EASIER. 

I assumed that they would. Surely they HAVE TO. Right? 

The first goodbye was head spinningly, puke inducingly, hot and cold flashingly – surreal. 

I stumbled back to the car at the train station and sped off before Popeye had even made it over the train station walk way bridge. He turned around (apparently to give me a last romantic wave and blow me a kiss)- to hear wheels screeching, to see me speeding off with clouds of l&b smoke coming out of the drivers window and some probably angry “girl power” music blaring. Just the classy, elegant stage exit I was aiming for. Not. 

Next time round I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t breathe and got snot on his coat. See this time I knew. I knew how hard it was going to be

I knew it was real. I knew it would take work. I knew long lonely evenings stretched out ahead of me. I knew the harsh reality of no contact was not romantic. That sending parcels did not equate to spending time together. 

I knew I was going to have to dig deep. Again. I was going to have to endure side ways head tilts from well meaning people and people telling me how bloody strong I am. Again. 

In short part of my panic and grief was because there was no illusion left. I had done my first deployment. 

The level of shiteness of the goodbye stayed the same to be honest, over the next few goodbyes. It never got easier to be fair. And I would sway wildly between hysterical-crying-snot-monster and dangerous-driver-denial-woman. 

Side note: I’ve always wanted to master the “black and white film star” goodbye. You know, with me standing there on the train platform, or dockside, or even (more likely) car park/lay by. And my makeup is fresh and dewy and my hair is immaculate and I have a hat on. And I wave him off with a kiss and a single tear glistening on my cheek. 

A bit like this:

  
This has never happened. It’s more like when Bellatrix Lestrange loses it in Harry Potter. 

  
Anyway…

So yes the awfulness of the goodbye kind of plateaued for a while. 

Until we had Sweetpea. Then this whole other level of goodbye horribleness opened up like a cess pit hidden under a rubbish tip. 

They are getting harder. So much harder in fact that I am seriously considering telling Popeye to just disappear, to sneak off and not tell us he’s going. I know I would wake up, realise he’s gone and turn into a kraken but by then he would be safely aboard a warship and (fairly) out of my wraths reach. 

At the moment, on his side of things he’s finding it so difficult and heart breaking to look into his daughters baby blues and say the G word, that he’s considering packing it all in and maybe *whispers*- leaving the navy. 

I know, right?!?! 

To be fair he has considered leaving approx 5,285 times since I met him. He mentions it at least once a week. So I don’t think it’s a totally serious idea, yet. 

But what happens when these frankly cruel 9 month deployments start up for us in 2016? Which  we did NOT sign up for ? 

In fact I’m sure there are hundreds of naval families and couples up and down the UK feeling the same. 

Anyway the ugly truth is out. And I’m sorry to be one to break it to you. Unless I’m wrong and I’m just getting wimpier?! God I hope that’s true for all our sakes! 

Still I know I can do it. It’s just usually the more you do something the easier it becomes, right? So how come this law of nature is not applying to our goodbyes? 

Maybe Brian Cox knows.  

Muchos love x

The run ashore

So it’s happening again. A run ashore is imminent.  My response to this varies wildly, so much so Popeye is now pretty cautious about how he tells me. My response SEEMS to depend on whether or not I’m on maternity leave and hormonal  or have work the next day or not. There may be other factors at play here. 

Basically I’m jealous of him and how free he can be. My life is tied down and full of adult responsibility. I have to be (vaguely) sensible. I have to be organised.  His life, when he’s onboard, hasn’t really changed (outside of his job role), since he was 16. 

  

If you have no kids and can go out and party hard yourself at the drop of a hat then good for you (teeny bit jealous here btw) . DO IT. Do it for ME if nothing else.

Forget all about how much fun they are having, who they are with, what super dooper clubs they are in, what exciting shinnanigans they are having and enjoy yourself

However. If you cant get rat arsed on a Tuesday or Thursday from lunchtime onwards, because of silly, unimportant, things, like:

  • Have to go to work the next day.
  • You are woken up by small people screaming at you for boobs or porridge at the crack of fecking dawn every day of your life. Forever.
  • You (shockingly) haven’t got stupid amounts of free money wanging around to spend on booze and taxis and casinos and more booze.
  • You actually want to sit in, curled up with a bottle of wine  cup of tea and bag of malteasers and watch new The Walking Dead, Stella or Modern Family or some new box set.
  • Inviting your bestie round for a bitch and gossip  catch up sounds like a much more appealing evening than having punctured ear drums and freshers spilling apple sours on you. 

DONT feel bad. You are not alone. Most of the Navy and Military Wife/Partner population will be feeling the same, whilst skimming through sky+ and checking their phone. 

Its NORMAL to feel jealous. They don’t have the same responsibilities as we do. To be there for our kids night and day 24/7. To go to work not smelling of sambouca and shame. To budget so we don’t, as a family, starve.

We have the luxury of a comfortable house around us, entertaining TV or company for good nights in. They don’t. They have honking pits, and are thrown together with others that, some of the time, are a bunch of pricks. 

When Popeye is deployed and goes on a Run Ashore I try to empathise. And when I thought about it I realised holy crap of I was in the Navy I’d be out having a drink (or ten) too! After being stuck in that metal box for, possibly weeks, working all hours God sends and thinking about home and missing us and seeing our faces smiling down from above his bed whilst he plays the same Xbox game for a few hours of free time. 

  

Shit man, I’d probably be drinking like a fish and dancing on tables in denial by the end of the night. It’s a form of escapism, denial and group consensus we’ve escaped in our normal lives. 

So next time your Popeye lets slip he’s going out for a “quiet few” (obviously code for getting plastered and tattooed and ending up stealing a large decorative fish) try to quiet the inner jealous, wine deprived, pub deprived, eye shadow deprived, grown up conversation deprived, she wolf. 

He’s going out either way so you might as well focus on all the good things youve got around you that he hasnt. 

Bottom line is he would do anything to be sitting there next to you nicking that last malteaser rather than replaying the same night out over and over again for years.

Muchos love 

Olive

X

P.s this does not mean you can’t remind him of all his nights out when he’s home so you can have a girls night out, complete with blackjack, vodka, possibly karaoke and all the glory of the “Mummy Lie In”. Life’s funny that way.