You really don’t have to be a cool military wife

You really don’t.

There’s no rule saying you have to suck it up and smile sweetly when they tell you they are missing your anniversary.

You can be annoyed, and rightly so,  you can be hurt, you can be miffed and vexed and whatever-the-hell-you-need-to-feel when they “forget” to tell you they are duty weekend until 4pm on a Friday. 

Sometimes we military wives need a little reality check.


It is fine to be pissed off when your partner cancels plans. Even if the reason for this cancelled plans is some MOD top priority mission. It’s fine.

It’s normal to be slightly vexed at having to switch Friday night plans from romantic dinner then bars then casino to dominoes and a bottle of red for one in your pjs at 45 minutes notice.

It’s understandable to not be cheerful and jolly ho and well wishing, when calling up the travel agent and praying with crossed fingers, that you can rebook the holiday you’ve saved a whole year for.

It is healthy to feel the rage at these times. It would be bizarre if you didn’t. And if it didn’t you might start doing weird passive aggressive things like deliberately putting gone off milk in his tea before he leaves, or “accidentally”‘deleting all the game of thrones on the sky planner. Or you might take it out on the BBKB  (Big Black Kit Bag) in a barely contained fit of rage.

Although it might make you feel better in the short term it won’t for long.

So please please ladies, don’t try to hold it together. When you feel pissed off, be pissed off

Get vocal, get sweary, hang up on them if you need to. Cry if you need to.

Just don’t for Petes sake, bottle it all up. 

Because at the end of the day, whether you lose the plot and let him have it both barrels, or you suppress it with your best stepford wife smile, the shits still going to hit you just the same. 

At least this way you will deal with it in a way that it healthy for you. Because sadly the shits going to hit that military  relationship fan again and again. And yes as time goes on you will get used to it in a way- but that doesn’t mean the shit doesn’t still stink. 

Shout it loud and shout it proud ladies- but only if you want to.

Muchos love,

Olive x 

Jill speak

Hey there lovelies, got an idea for you.

How’d you like the put some zing back in your relationship? Become that mysterious lady (or lad) of intrigue and whimsy once more? You would? Well then I have a little game for you! 

 Jill Speak!

Does your Popeye speak to work colleagues in another language? Does he respond to a name that is not his own? Do you sometimes have no idea what on earth he’s on about?

If the answer to any of these is “yes” then Jill Speak is just the game for you! And the great part is that the whole family can get involved too!

   
To play Jill Speak casually start using some of your Popeyes top-secret-navy-life-sailor-code-words into everyday conversation! Then sit back and enjoy the shock, confusion and then (hopefully) amusement on his face. 

I play it with my Popeye all the time and to be honest it annoys him. But who cares when playing it (and the look on his face!) is so much fun. 

P.s another great feature of Jill Speak is that you can modify it for whatever service your partner is in! For example, for my RM readers- don’t walk the dog- say you’re taking the dog on a dog yomp! 

Here are some examples/ideas: 

When asking him if he’s home next weekend- “have you got weekenders?” 

On bin day- “can you take out the gash bag please darling?”

At bedtime- “right I’m off to my pit, nighty night!”

When discussing the shopping list or at mealtimes- “what scran should I get in my love?”

Instead of reading a bedtime story, get your kids to ask their sailor for a “bedtime dit please”. 

When out and about and in need of caffeine, tell your service person to “get the wets in”.

When your sprog does something particularly well, like gets 10/10 on their spellings, make sure to tell them it was “BZ” within earshot of your sailor. 

And finally if he is in need of a compliment, or you’re hoping to get your groove on simply sidle up to him, stare into his eyes lovingly and tell him “hey their gorgeous, looking turbo divs tonight” and watch him glow with amor (or be completely gobsmacked).

  
Another twist on Jill Speak if you truly want to create that Navy Ship feel at home (Kirsty Allsop eat you heart out) is to start calling all family members and friends by a different name!

Base their new Navy Nickname on something they did years ago that no one really remembers, a physical characteristic or (very very) loosely connected to their existing name. So if you have a Great Aunty Audrey she could now and forever be referred to as “Hepburn”, “Hep” or “Burnsy”. 

Remember the more embarrassing the story that inspired the name or the more random and difficult to figure out, the better. For real authenticity dont explain the new name to anyone. Ever.

  
If your Popeye is deployed then you can still play Jill Speak! You can easily sneak phrases into emails or when chatting on the phone. The stunned silence and (usually) string of baffled expletives that follow are well worth the phone card minutes.  It also pretty much guarantees a speedy email reply (unless comms are down of course) along the lines of “how do you know that word? I don’t like you using Jackspeak. You’ve freaked me out Olive!” Good times. 

However you decide to play Jill Speak have fun. Get creative and get the whole family onboard! See how many you can think of and shoehorn into everyday chit chats with your Popeye. 

Do let me know how you get on. 

Lots of love,

Olive X 

Friday night idiot or optimist

Ok so the rational, sensible grown-up part of me, the one who does her car-tax and uses clubcard coupons knows that Popeye can’t come home this weekend.

But his ship is alongside somewhere in the UK. 

Hmm… The U.K.  you say… Interesting because that’s where I am too…

Suddenly, buried deeply underneath the realistic brain comes a beaming shaft of optimism. Or stupidity. 

Maybe he’s going to come home on weekend leave and surprise me!”

The split second my traitorous brain thinks this I slam shut the mental door on the escapee thought.

But it’s too late. 

It’s too late, I’ve thought it now and it’s in my head. Wiggling and dancing across all my other thoughts for the rest of the day.

  
Maybe, just maybe, he will be coming home.

Tick tock, tick tock.

I wonder if the ship is alongside yet? *checks Google and Twitter and Facebook*

Tick tock, tick tock.

I wonder how long it takes to get from X to our house? *checks AA route planner*

Tick tock, tick tock.

I wonder what times a train would get in from where he is? *checks the trainline.com for an early/middle and late train*

I get on with the evening routine. Making dinner and trying my very best not to look at the door over and over whenever the dog makes a noise or a car door slams. 

  
Trying my very grown-up-sensible-brain best not to do time maths to work out “omg omg if he got that train he’d be back any moment now!”

But of course I do because my treacherous brain let the thought come flying out before I could stop it. Stupid brain.

 

This pic has nothing to do with the post but i think its fucking hilarious
 
Finally I decide to just give him a quick ring, you know, for a chat. Because he’s not coming home (except maybe he is- squeeee!) and it would be nice for a catch up even if he’s not coming home (unless he is and he’s coming to surprise me any second now!!! Double squeeee!) .

Tossing my hair over my shoulder with a blasé shrug, I dial the number… 

…And I crumple as it does straight to voicemail. 

…………

Ah, I see. He’s still below deck. On board. With no signal. Hence the voicemail. 

So he’s really really not coming home. Just like he said. Just like I knew.

Crapsticks I am such an idiot. 

And all I can think is thank god I’ve never ever told anyone I do this. No-one apart from me and my traitor brain know how crazy I get the second that optimistic thought gets out. Just don’t tell anyone and then the secrets safe Olive. 

People would think I’m totally mad, wouldn’t they? 

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. 

My “linger” moment, in response to  daily posts WordPress prompt.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Linger.”

What moment would I like to pause and linger over?

Easy. Peasy. Lemon squeezey.

The morning before the last morning together.

Waking up a minute before he does and watching him sleep.

Concentrating on the rhythm of his breathing.

The dappled curtain filtered sunlight playing on his sea-salted skin.

In this moment we know nothing of deployments. My stomach does not ache from loneliness or loss but swells with love and tenderness.

I snuggle up under his thick, heavy, tattooed arm and find my harbour , where I feel more complete than anywhere else.

And we just breathe. We breathe in the silence, breathe in the closeness, breathe in the togetherness that no distance will ever destroy.

This is my linger moment, my safe harbour from separation, my never ending nirvana. A simple sunlit strewn memory that nothing can take away. Not even a deployment.

  

Pussers socks

I need to rant, a straight up rant.

Until very very recently I thought I was the only one who had a major hate problem towards an inanimate object, specifically clothing.

That was until I posted on a Facebook page for navy wives about my hatred towards said item of clothing.

I was amazed at the response. I am not alone in my hatred of pussers socks!!!! Other wives too have told me that they can’t stand them!

First of all, for those of you lucky enough to not have these items of clothing in your life/laundry bin, pussers socks are of the devil navy issued thick black socks.

“Olive, why all the negative nelly-ness? They’re only socks, how bad can they be?” I hear you cry.

Well they aren’t just any old socks, these socks may be self aware. Or at least up to no good. Let me elaborate.

They are basically made of something akin to Velcro, they attract ALL hair and ALL fluff that your husbands feet may encounter. And when you live with me (I’m a moulter) and a hairy Westie dog then the socks become a veritable lint roller for the floor.

20140611-182644-66404729.jpg

It doesn’t matter how many times you wash them, those hairs ain’t never coming out. Ever. Ever.

So then you end up storing all the socks up for when you’re doing a load of towels or, what is even more ridiculous, just doing a load of washing exclusively of pussers socks. Which obviously is a little bit bonkers because, well they’re socks for goodness sake.

Another strange quality these socks possess is that, once brought home from the issuing depot, and worn and taken off, they will never match again. Each sock is made of a slightly different weave/pattern/thickness and you will drive yourself crazy if you try to match them into pairs. Don’t even try. The different thickness would really annoy me, but if Popeye thinks I’m going to spend ages sorting out those beasts, he better get himself another wife!

And they seem to be able to move. One navy wife said that she swears they multiply in the drawer. I thought about this and it makes perfect sense. They separate from their pairs and then go in search of a mate that is biologically different from themselves, once found they disappear into the drawer, or, in my house (the reason for the original Facebook rant) under the bed, where they bump uglies (which is the whole sock I imagine) and make new, giant thick socks to annoy you. You will find nests of these socks only once your hubby has deployed and he is safely thousands of miles away.

All you can do is destroy the nests and return them to the sock drawer. We used to share an undies drawer but now, because of the socks, Popeye has a whole drawer basically just filled with them, bursting at the seams.

Another navy wife made an interesting point, that also applies to Popeye. Sailors, it’s seems love these socks. They think they’re comfy. And stylish, Popeye wears his even when not at work. And I can only assume, seductive, based on the reports of partners attempting to play footsie with the beasts on their feet. (Err no, I don’t think so, I’ve got a headache.)

In the interests of science I have worn them before, and I’ve just put on a pair now to evaluate their comfort level. Yes they are thick, and I imagine very nice and warm during winter. But these socks are issued year round, and below decks is usually a balmy mix of BO and farts, not exactly “snuggly socks” conditions. They are also scratchy and nylony. Ok I guess, but not anything I would get attached to.

I can only surmise that sailors get attached to these strange socks because they are navy issue, and therefore have almost a nostalgic place in their heart. They are reliable I guess, and they are practical. But they are still totally gross and far far too big for any normal footed sized man, they go past my knee.

I know it’s a really weird thing to be grossed out about, but they truely are massive, unmatching and seemingly never clean. The sheer volume of them is what really takes the mick. And the fact that I am sure they wait for hubster to deploy, before emerging into the light in their swarms.

“Subject to change”: a massive understatement brought to you by the Royal Navy.

The thing about the navy is, that until you are in a relationship with a sailor, you have this rosy tinted view of the “might of the British navy”. This super powerful, super organised sleek beast, epitomising the pinnacle of military might in the first world.

When you’re about five minutes in to said relationship with sailor, this view begins to lose its lustre. I am a bit of control freak at times granted, but that does not begin to explain my frustration with the oldest established military force in the U.K.

You can’t organise one thing, not one teeny tiny eeny weeny event or anything and safely bank that your partner will be there. Popeyes catchphrase at the end of any conversation about leave or deployment dates is “subject to change”.

“Subject to change” is putting it bloody mildly. When we were first dating I dropped a young fresh faced Popeye off at the train station on Sunday night. We had our standard hug and kiss goodbye and I drove merrily home to tidy up dirty cups, snotty tissues and sweet/choc wrappers left as what I can only guess are love mementos by Popeye, (which I have been reliably informed are an alpha males calling card by the way, so there), thinking in my wide eyed final year uni student way that “yes, I will of course see him on Friday. As per usual. That’s what he told me so that is what must be happening.”

I did not see Popeye for two months dear readers.

It wasn’t even a deployment, just basic sea trials (translation: pissing about on the sea whilst the engine breaks again and again) and bad timings of him being duty weekend in between.

This baptism of fire was about four years ago, before a deployment proper. It taught me a hard but necessary lesson.

Subject to change= “don’t rely on anything darling sailor is saying about where he is going to be at any given time on this planet until he is physically standing in front of you in the doorway with his x box in one bag and dirty kit in the other”.

This also happens with deployments, I’ve known countless other wives and girlfriends who have saved up all their pennies, adjusted their countdowns on the calendar and bought a whole new wardrobe so they can fly out and see their partners mid deployment. This does sometimes work and must be amazing to do. Alas, there are times when the ships timetable has changed, or their partners are duty or the some other international incident has occurred which means that all their build up and excitement comes crashing down.

These are “big” examples. There have been hundreds of times when leave has been cancelled, or he’s come home really late, or not come home at all and not been able to call until the next day (visualise me having a panic on a Friday, pacing around the living room and thinking, “is he really not coming home? I need to know so I can open some wine or not, will I be needed for lifts from the train station? Oh sod it he’ll have to get a taxi”.)

Just yesterday (and probably the inspiration for this cheerful little post!) I said goodbye thinking I’d see Popeye after he’d finished work, nope. Not a chance naive Olive! Gone until further notice! Don’t even know where he is! I’ve learnt to go with the flow now though and admit defeat. My timetable and plans MUST come second to the navy . I knew this when I met him.

Doesn’t mean I can’t moan about it though.

NONE of this is the sailors fault. No way. It seems to me that yes, the navy IS powerful. And it IS a world leader in protecting humanitarian rights and providing aid. What it is not, however,is all that organised in terms of sticking to the plan... Which I think is the part that annoys me (and other partners of sailors) the most.

This flexibility in the plan may be an essential component in keeping the Royal Navy up there as one of the “big boys”, or (and I suspect this is true) it may be due to the dubious attention to detail or rigorous testing provided by BAE so that half of what they need to do they can’t because the thing they need to use to get there is broken. Or they get to where they need to go and the thing they need to fire or check or use is broken. Therefore a wasted journey for the ship and missed Christmas plays, birthdays and anniversaries for the crew.

But I have to mention the flip side. Those fantastic spine tingling, breath taking evenings when you’re watching some highly intelligent documentary on TV (ok ok so it’s more likeI’m a celeb, X factor or true blood but he doesn’t need to know that, as you quickly switch to question time or something with Micheal Palin in it).

The door knocks, the dog starts going mental, you jump up, half daring to think it could be him, half hoping its a free dominos pizza and not a murderer. And there he is! Exhausted, dishevelled and grumpy, but home. These surprises are what makes up for all the crappy times when the Royal Navy messes us around. In these moments I freakin love the Navy. Like properly. Forever. Until the next Sunday night.

So my message to you the next generation of fresh faced, intelligent navy partners, is this: use the dates your Popeye gives you as a vague indication of when you might see them. Get holiday insurance. Do what you were planning on doing anyway. Don’t spend your life waiting for the navy to care about your plans and agenda because it’s got bigger things to prioritise. Understand that your sailor finds this JUST as rubbish as you and prepare to be amazed at how much of a warship can be repaired using gaffer tape.

Oh yes and make sure you shave your armpits for those surprise hugs in the doorway.

Muchos love

Xxxx

Navy wife MOT

Now I’m not saying I let myself go during a deployment, but I do “relax” into what can only be described as a asexual state.

Because navy wives are a strange hybrid during deployments, we’re not single we are “taken” in the sense that we have got a partner, but they are just not here at the minute. When I do go out, dont get me wrong, I like to look good and feel good. I’m not paired up in the traditional marriage sense, but I AM spoken for. I dont flirt nor do I want to, but you dont fit into the “single” category, nor do I feel that I can 100% fit in with the married gals I’m out with either.

I still feel single in the sense that I have only got me to depend on, there’s no lift home from hubby, no one to swap stories with when I come stumbling in, he’s not there for me to catch his eye in the universal sign of “help! weirdo alert” when some creepy guy at the bar starts chatting to me. I have to pay the whole taxi fare. There’s no one to hold my hair back etc.

To compensate for the strange dynamic of being in a relationship, yet for all intents, purposes and for practical reasons, hoofing it alone, when they’re away you can totally get away with things that you can’t when they’re home.

I don’t shave my legs when hubby is gone, unless it is a very special occasion or Im getting worried the hairs have started to stick through my leggings and the static may cause a spark at the petrol station.

I do shave my armpits, but not with the finesse or attention to detail that arises when Popeye is home or it is summer. I have been known to wear a t shirt in lieu of a vest top because of my relaxed attitude to underarm fuzz during deployment.

I let my eyebrows have a race to the centre of my forehead (not really, but they do get quite bad at points).

Skin care routine? What skin care routine? (Unless you count leaving makeup on overnight and using shower gel to get it off the next day).

Of course hubby never knows about this, when on the phone I can pretend that I’m up and am having an oh-so-productive day when really I have spent two hours playing candy crush and looking at cats doing stupid things on YouTube, I’m still in my dressing gown and the dog has buried a chew toy under the duvet next to me. In the same vein if we ever Skype I will make sure my face and upper body look great, in some stylish top, and he will never know that my bottom half is wearing primark pyjamas with jams stains on them.

I only send him the pictures of me that I like, so I get to filter out all those that make me look a tad bizarre. It’s not a lie as such, more like giving Popeye a more favourable angle to miss when he’s away.

“Ah hah! clever me!” I think. “It’s the perfect ruse! I can totally relax my already fairly lax beauty regime and he will never know! Am a genius, this way he is still in love with me and I don’t have to worry about trivial things like haircuts or nice nails! nice one Olive, you’re doing swell girl.”

This state of happy self contentment/blissful unawareness continues until…

“Oh CRAP. It’s three weeks till he’s home! Three weeks! how did this happen?
Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod”.

When you’ve stopped staring blankly at the calendar agog that the time has actually past you come to the scary realisation that, he’s really coming home AND (no matter how many times you speed change, turn off the light and dive bomb under the covers) he’s going to have to see you naked at some point. SHIT.

And I’ve just realised my mother in law reads this blog. Hi…*waves*…

Anyway…

Once the initial surge of panic fades, you make the navy wife MOT list:

1. Haircut
2. Stop biting nails then get manicure.
3. Sort out feet.
4. Shave legs (if I start now I should be finished by the time he’s home)
5. Wax everything.
6. Exfoliate six months of dead skin cells off of your body.
7. Put a face mask on, maybe play some Enya or other plinky plonky music, to try and convince yourself this is pampering and relaxing, and not at all stressful or painful.

(Oh yes and the house list:
1. Clean the crap out of everything in a style of nervous desperation because you can’t sit still until the house is gleaming and you’re scared to move anything anywhere.)

I’ve suggested at my local salon that they should have a package called the Navy Wife MOT and include a haircut, bikini wax and eyebrow shape in it. I think they though I was joking but I was totally serious! All my navy wife friends do this, or a variation of this, depending (in my case) just how bad they’ve let themselves get during the deployment. Some girls probably look like they’ve bathed in milk and honey and had their makeup licked on by kittens every day (like my personal self image nemesis at 6.30am in the morning, – Charlotte from Sky News no one should look that good at that time of the morning, it’s unnatural and unrealistic and makes me want to cry into my bowl of Special K red berries).

Sorry, got carried away.

I am not one of those girls. I forget to take my makeup off at night, and wake up looking like ive been punched in both eyes (sexy), I would rather have an extra five minutes snooze than spend ages on my makeup in the morning, I frequently button up my cardigans (see, I wear cardigans!) the wrong way and don’t notice, all day. And I have gone out SO many times with not just wet hair, but wet hair with conditioner still completely in it, for that “barely dry, yet totally greasy” look.

The annoying thing is that this homecoming level of personal preening lasts for about a month after Popeye is home, after that I relax again, not quite to deployment level, but not as OCD as when MOT time comes around. That’s because it’s just not me. I mean, I’m clean and I make sure I’m de-fuzzed, but I don’t let it take over my life. My skin may not have been treated to a facial, my eyebrows may have just left the starting blocks, but an MOT level beautification isn’t needed, as lame as it sounds I feel confident just being myself.

A navy wife MOT is that extra reassurance when I feel what (I hope) are quite natural homecoming body image insecurities. Realising that hey I’m not asexual, I’m a woman, an ok looking woman at that, and he loves me. Sometimes it just takes a little extra scrubbing to make me realise that I could show up wearing a bin bag and Popeyes eyes would still light up like its Christmas.