Moving goalposts.

“You knew what you signed up for.” One of the many uber helpful, kind and not at all annoying comments I’ve had flung my way as a navy wife. Usually when I’m upset or (dare I say it) moaning about the trials and tribulations of navy-wifedom.

For years I’ve replied with “yes. I know, but it’s still hard” or, “yeah that’s true, fair point”. And as of today have not retaliated verbally or physically, well done me.

BUT a couple of nights ago, about three days before the end of Popeyes leave, I was brushing my teeth before bed (rock and roll) and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Indignantly I spat out the Colgate, took a long hard look at myself and realised:

This so is not what I signed up for!!!

Dear readers, let me take you back in time, to when I was fresh faced graduate, without the odd grey hair, without a baby, with more money, and probably with more optimism. I was out in a bar. I met a young sailor. He came over and bought me a raspberry cosmopolitan. Yes readers, my Popeye.

We spent a good few months getting shiters and doing it having good clean fun, keeping it bright and breezy (deffo not me staring at my phone thinking “why doesn’t he call? He hates me. OMG HES SEEING SOMEONE ELSE. Why won’t it ring? Ahhhhh!” ) . Anyway after some super cute “dates” and, “I love you more” “no, I love you more” type convos, Popeye decides it’s time for The Navy Talk. You know the one, “I will have to go away a lot”, “my job will always have to come first”, “are you sure you want to do this? Are you sure you want this type of relationship? This type of life?” blah blah blah.

So, for once in my life I was sensible. I was practical. I put my emotions aside (“oh how I love him, I’d do anything for him, being a forces wife sounds oh-so-romantic” etc. Bleurgh) .

I asked him exactly what is the worst case scenario.

And he told me. He told me that worst case scenario he’d have a six month deployment every 2-3 years. Plus sea trials, plus duty weekends. He told me the truth. Or at least what was true at the time. Popeyes been in the navy since he was 16 and so was basing this worst case scenario on that.

I can handle that, thinks me. A deployment every couple of years? That’s totally manageable. That is what I signed up for.

So, obviously I went for it. And I’m so glad I did.

However.

About a year into our serious grown up relationship, I notice the goalposts have moved. There’s a six month deployment, plus sea trials, plus duty weekends, plus pissing about whilst stuff breaks over and over
Very important maintenance. “Ok” thinks me, it’s just a couple extra months. Next year is our deployment free year, so that’s ok.

Oh no. Oh no no no no. Like it could be that easy! That straightforward! Then follows a good three years each with it’s own glorious six month deployment! Now with added extra crap warship sea trials! And an extra large helping of fleet ready escort buggering off for Christmas fun!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

And now. NOW the goalposts have been moved so far they’d have to strap a football to a freakin rocket to score a goal. Just before he comes home from his seven month deployment, (which I was told was only for six months, after I had moved house and pushed another human out of my hoo hah without him there). Then I am told via bbc freakin news (!) that all deployments will now be for 9 bloody months!!!

Nine! I can make a person in nine months. That is a ridiculous amount of time and NOT what I signed up for!!!

The Royal Navy need to consider the impact this change will have on families and marriages. Not to mention morale and person-power within the fleet.

I’ve got a lot of support for Popeye and have sacrificed for him, for the Royal Navy. I’ve done it because I love him, not his job and I’ve done it with good grace (mostly). I’ve stayed quiet again and again and watched those goalposts recede into the distance with an increasing sense of foreboding. This, quite frankly, is taking the piss.

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The Phone Ninja

So this is my first blog, so I’m apologising in advance for possible rubbishness.

I would like to discuss a phenomenon close to my heart, one that occurs each deployment. I’ll try to be informative, supportive and witty, but really I just want to reassure myself that I am not completely insane for several months of the year.

Today’s blog is about how I morph from a (fairly) rational, calm, organised (yeahhh….) and generally Independent Woman into “The Phone Ninja”.

The transformation

Ahem…so let me paint a picture for you, the darling love of life sailor has finally left (see my other blog post- “Why doesn’t he just GO!” coming soon).

You’re at home, and if you’re clever (I have never done this), you will have several fantastically distracting activities planned for the next 48 hours.

For the rest of us (OK maybe just me)… you come home, phone your mum, cry, get annoyed by the “It’ll fly by pickle” type conversation, open a bottle of wine and watch Bridget Jones/Twilight/Ghost (delete as appropriate). After a while you put on Destiny’s Child or similar “I can do this” type music. This continues until you realise he really isn’t calling, upon which you pull yourself together and GO TO BED.

And this is where the Phone Ninja begins to emerge. You take all forms of possible communication to bed with you. Mobile phone, home phone, laptop (with facebook chat loaded up), carrier pigeon etc. Just in case they call.

This “just in case” way of thinking takes over whilst they’re deployed. Even if you are a sensible, well rounded and secure individual. Even if you cram every waking moment with wholesome projects- last time mine were: 1)Learn Italian                            2)Take up horse riding                   3)Lose 2 stone

(None of these happened.)

Quickly you find yourself morphing into “woman with phone”.

The phone is never more than 3 metres away from you. It’s on top of the wash basket when you carry a load downstairs. It’s on the side of the sink when you’re in the shower, precariously balanced between the carex and the electric toothbrush. When you leave it somewhere you have a nagging feeling you’ve forgotten something essential, like clothes, until you realise you’re not near it. You conduct experiments to see how far the wireless signal reaches around your cul de sac…..

You become…… “The Home Phone Ninja”.

Over the first few weeks of the deployment you amaze yourself with fantastic feats to get to that ringing phone. You can drop roll over the bed after vaulting up the stairs in 5 seconds flat. And you begin doing dummy runs to improve your best time. You can hear, locate and answer the ringing phone even when completely asleep at 3am…and learn that you shouldn’t answer the phone with “is that you R Pattz?” You can easily simultaneously pull off washing up gloves and hurdle your bemused dog. (Don’t worry they stop cowering after the first few times-when they realise you can clear them in one bound).

Some Navy SWAGs are able to do all the above with babies and children in tow. This is something I haven’t had to tackle yet. To those ladies I raise my hat and sincerely applaud you. You are most likely black belt Phone Ninjas. I want to hear about your Ninja Skills. Any tips for when I have a mini Popeye on hip would be gratefully appreciated.

Friends and family.

God help any friends or family if they are standing between you and your phone call. Thoughts of how quickly you can bring them down and answer the phone in less than 10 seconds flash through your head. My friends and family must see these thoughts in my eyes as they are remarkably quick at getting out of the way.

Several times when I’ve got guests the phone has rung and I’ve yelled like a banshee from the loo-“ANSWER THE PHONE IT MIGHT BE POPEYE!!!” Whilst simultaneously trying to pull up my knickers and wash my hands.

REALLY GOOD friends will answer the phone for you at inopportune moments like this after only once seeing you charge down the stairs like a rhino trying to do up your trousers in one hand whilst reaching out for the phone in the other.

Being a Phone Ninja is a useful test of who your friends really are. The friends that just ‘get it’ and understand your temporary loss of sanity when you hear the ringtone are worth their weight in gold. Those ‘friends’ who think you are silly, overreacting or just plain mental should politely be asked to sod off.

True friends understand that the sound of the phone ringing instantly makes your pulse race and your heart flutter.  It’s the call you may have been waiting weeks for. True friends understand and will embrace the Phone Ninja you have become.

Lots of love to you all, hope you enjoyed reading,

 

Olive Oyl x