<This is an actual mid deployment email I just sent Popeye, my thoughts are added in italics.>
Hi Popeye, the kids are finally quiet in in the living room (eating ice cream and watching something American and squeaky voiced) and I thought now would be a good time to email you about how everything is here on the home front.
We have had a day full of good intentions , but, have been thwarted at every stage. We had planned to get your parcel posted today, then realised I had run out of brown tape.
“There is a simple solution to this problem” I thought, “lets go to the local supermarket and purchase some, excellent, splendid”. So we decided to go to <Insert generic supermarket name here> for tape, jolly ranchers (Note that Popeye had specifically requested these for his parcel, as he had decided only american candy will do, and I of course have all the time and resources in the world to acquire said item, and do so with a quiet sense of matrimonial pride, obvs) and some new pjs and trousers for Sweetpea (who is growing taller at an alarming rate).
We also needed a gingerbread man cutter for making gingerbread (no shit). I was attempting to be a wholesome autumnal earth mother doing Nice Things At The Weekend.
I had a quick google and <generic supermarket> apparently dont sell gingerbread men cutters. So I thought:
“We can quickly nip/pop/dash to <large chain craft store> then go to <generic supermarket>. Simple”.
All before the post office shut at 12.30. Easy. So we get up and leave at about 10.30 (#achievement) and proceed in the torrential rain to <large chain craft store>. Sweetpea and Sproglet (now aged 6 and 4.5 dear readers) especially enjoyed it when mummy drove through the big puddles/floods making huuuuge splashes over the car. We get to <large chain craft store>.
The queue is along the whole front of the store, and around the corner. I suggest fucking it all off seeing if <generic supermarket> have any sodding gingerbread men cutters. This was met with severe disapproval from the board. SO at circa 10.50am we are found waiting in the sheeting rain, huddled in our 2m square boxes, limping towards the entrance.
WE GET IN.
Upon reaching the doorway and the member of staff (guarding) the entry way I feel the same rush of exhilaration I used to get upon entering a nightclub. Ignoring the feeling of dismay at my lost youth, I battled around the shop whilst the kids informed me they DESPERATELY NEED everything in sight because they miss daddy. I do not fall for their ploys. I tell them they can have something from here or a magazine from generic supermarket. The magazine offer wins. Then we round a corner and find the cooking section! (I also lost Sproglet for a minute or so at one point but thats another story, all was fine.)
They have sodding gingerbread sodding effing cookie cutters!
“Fuck yeah! I am a good Mum! Holy shit I CAN DO THIS!!! I ROCK!” I think.
However they are quite small, actually, they are teeny tiny. Sweetpea provides excellent verbal feedback that this will not do and is UNACCEPTABLE in a cookie cutter. She had much higher expectations and this pathetic excuse for a biscuit cutter does not meet her creative vision.
Undeterred ignoring her whinging, we venture forthwith to the tills. Only to be met with a queue to rival the one outside, albeit slightly drier. Then, right on time, Sweetpea needs the toilet, now, this very second. “No mummy I cant hold it in. We need to go noooooow.” Then bladder synchronicity occurs, as so often does with small children in public spaces, a strange phenomenon as now Sproglet too, needs the toilet and is jumping around declaring it to all customers and staff in the large chain craft store.
I admit defeat. We leave the full basket and the premises. I realise the garden centre next door has loos AND theres no queue.
Feeling that my luck may have FINALLY changed, we venture in. Only to suffer immediate auditory, visual and olfactory assault. There is Christmas shit EVERYWHERE. Bear in mind it is early October. I do love Christmas, but this looked like some kind of weird festive acid trip. The girls ran off, shrieking (again) about how we needed EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW. My calls of social distancing and not to touch stuff falls on deaf ears, their bladders mysteriously reinvigorated at the sight of so much sparkly plastic tat.
We ended up spending over £20 on, well, nothing much really, we got something for your parcel (still unwrapped and unposted, sitting in the dining room) and left.
Upon securing the children ready for the drive, Sweetpea suddenly realised, she in fact felt very car sick. She felt car sick if I drove slowly, if the window was open or shut, if she closed her eyes. She did the puppy dog eyes and moaned quietly. She made fake retching noises. She stated her complete and utter inability to visit generic supermarket for essential parcel sending items and the hunt for the fucking cunting gingerbread cookie cutter.
I gave up. We came home and they had lunch, the mystery nausea disappearing as she realised we had pickled onion monster munch in the cupboard.
And so, my love I decided to buy everything on Amazon Prime. Fuck it all. Fuck it all to buggery. Jolly ranchers, brown tape and gingerbread paraphernalia will be here on Monday and I will get everything posted then, if I can, between work and the school run (which is at ridiculous 2.30pm now, basically just when my morning coffee has kicked in and im about to be fabulously productive working from home). And Popeye, when you reallllly think about it, by getting lots of stuff from amazon, im actually saving us money on boxes. So its win win. Sorry about the jolly ranchers.
We miss you loads and I hope youre doing OK. Loads of love, Olive
p.s I may make this into a blog post, its alright isnt it? Love you!!!! p.s2- from Sweetpea- “Write I love you daddy and I hope you come back soon love from Sweetpea then do a full stop”. p.s 3 from Sproglet- “love Sproglet.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?”.
I’ve been finding it hard to blog lately. Like real hard.
I’ve been being a full time mum, working for the NHS in a vaguely serious if-you-fuck-up-at-work-someone-could-get-really-hurt capacity.
I’ve had to accept my childhood demons. I’ve even named them. I’m working through all that shit and I’m doing ok. Popeye is here, but he’s not really (in my head) because he’s like, totally drafted to an actual ship and stuff.
I love blogging. I love being 100% honest with you. But I’m beginning to think the reason I haven’t blogged so much recently is because, well, the truth hurts.
I know you read this because it picks you up when darling sailor has buggered off for X number of months.
I know you read this because you (bloody rightly so) need a giggle on an evening.
I know that this blogging malarkey helps you guys. Like. Just a tad. In the utter shit storm of deployment I hope it’s a teeny weeny nugget of “yeah yeah that’s MEEEEE”.
Because that’s what I get from it too.
I just write some stuff down, don’t proof read (apart from typos- and even then I think fuck it), I don’t first draft or second draft. I don’t send it to my NWBFF for a quick “is this mental?” Check. I just write.
And you lot read. And you read and you read and you like. And you comment. And you message.
And sometimes you massively disagree which is GREAT because I have no idea what I’m doing and maybe you guys do.
So. I guess that’s what this blog post is all about. God sometimes I wonder if I should do videos. But that’s impractical because a- you would see my actual face
B- it would be some lame millennial thing that I don’t quite understand
C-(this is lame) I love seeing my thoughts be actual printed words on a screen. Because I know that words and feelings can be translated in that way.
In the way that only a military partner really gets. Reading that email. Getting that familygram. That true expression of love and faith against all odds.
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*
Ok *oversharing alert* family and friends click away now.
Popeye has just reminded me of something that has happened every deployment and I’m wondering if it happens to you too.
Thing is, it’s a tad embarrassing.
A smidge, a pinch, a wee bit cringe inducing.
When your partner deploys, companionship and wholesome friendship issues aside, it leaves a big gap in your sex life. There’s a *ahem* how do I put it- a romantic need that he just *ahem* can’t fulfill because he is several thousand miles away.
We all have our own “coping mechanisms” and this post is not about that. It’s about something else that happens after a “dry spell” spanning several months.
Every time Popeye has been on deployment I have had (occasional) rude dreams.
(This, so far, is pretty normal right? Stay with me. It gets weird)
Every time Popeye has been on deployment I have had rude dreams that are not starring Popeye.
(Ok ok we’re all grown ups here, we can admit that dreaming about someone other than your partner does happen and although totes cringey and not something you mention down the phone- not exactly something entering into the realms of bizarre.)
Here it is-
Every time Popeye has deployed I have had rude dreams about low status TV personalities.
Not even proper slebs! These fantasy dreams have starred such well known hotties as
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
Each time I’ve woken up totally and utterly freaked out and emailed Popeye in a state of utter squeamishness.
I don’t know why my subconscious seeks out middle aged gardeners and organic chefs as prime X rated dream stars.
But it does. And it scares me. I don’t get my brain. When I’m awake, they do nothing for me. Sorry Al and Hugh, no offence but you’re just not my type(s).
Tell me I’m not the only one?
Seriously, you guys have had freaky weird sex dreams too, right guys? Right?!
This Saturday just gone I put on my first charity coffee and cake fundraiser for the fabulous charity Little Troopers.
It was a total success and we raised a fantastic £120!!!
#proudface all round.
There were, of course a few hiccups on the way. Including the first (and only solo) attempt at baking I did. That resulted in a whole batch of “fugly” cupcakes that we sold at a discount, because hey, fugly cakes need homes too.
We were given a mahoosive stack of boxes of cupcakes from Morrisons that were absolutely delish and had been baked fresh in store the day I collected them and hand decorated so beautifully- totally put my fuglies to shame tbh but I’m OK with that as it was for charidee.
Big props to Chris from Morrisons in Portsmouth for sorting us out with that scran. You are a legend and totally squared us away.
Other shout outs are needed for the lovely lady in charge of Cockleshell Community Centre- Kerry. Who set up the room the day before, sorted out the raffle tickets and showed up with a large amount of meat even though she had a horrendous migraine. Nails.
Not forgetting my civvy best mate Aime for her amazing face painting skillz including the full range of spider man characters including actual venom omg.
My NWBFF Emma and her hubby Dai (off of Wales). They turned up the day before and sorted out my crap baking skills and helped me learn to weigh my eggs and how to pipe buttercream. They also taught me that cocoa powder is not the same as hot chocolate.
And that it is especially not the same as hot chocolate that went off in 2014.
And the awesome Charlotte who rocked up bang on 9am when I was running shockingly late (I managed to get lost on the way- even though I’ve been there several times before- don’t ask).
Now I had never ever met Charlotte, but in true Navy wife style she surveyed the thinly veiled chaos I had created and calmly asked me how she could help and got on with cutting out prices and signs and stuff. She was un-flusterable and for that, I salute you.
Me on the other hand, I was not quite so calm. I arrived shockingly late, met my baking gurus Emma & Dai standing outside looking a tad perplexed as we couldnt get in yet.
Cue pacing and phoning and my hair getting more and more sweaty. We got in and got set up just in time. All thanks to the fantastic team of people who got stuck in. I’m not exaggerating when I say if had been all down to me it would have been a bit shit. It was a real team effort and it was So. Much. Fun.
We ate a lot of cakes.
We drank a lot of coffee.
We swapped navy horror stories.
We may have swapped incompetent husband stories. But the feminist in me won’t admit to that.
Helen went home with a big piece of meat. She was very happy with this.
I met up with loads of the wives from Popeyes old ship. It was FANTASTIC to see them all again and has inspired another NW Night Out soon.
My kids ran around screaming on a sugar high with face paints. Actually everyone else’s did this too, to be fair.
Although only my daughter decided to pull her trousers and pants down in the middle of the room in front of everyone shouting “I NEED THE TOILET NOWWWWW”-( hey you can’t win them all).
It was great and I’m sure I’ve forgotten lots of stuff. I want to do another one before Christmas and vary the location to get as many people as possible involved.
So keep your eyes peeled as I will be cobbling something else together in December-
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.
The phone rings- I go all Phone Ninjaand 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.