Tuesday, 9 October 2007


As I write Hubby is packing his things for the last time, bidding Portsmouth adieu, signing off on his computer, giving his replacement a firm handshake, wishing him well with a ho, ho, ha, ha navy style joke before getting into his car for one more commute.
The children and I are trepidatious. It has been a long time since we have lived together as a family. A long time since anyone has kept tabs on me during the week. Does he know for instance how much time I spend on my computer emailing and MSNing various global friends. Does he realise how much time I waste just watching auctions on ebay or browsing on Amazon? Well no more. From now on I shall be expected to make two dinners of an evening, one for the children who are ravenous by 5.30 and another, a deaux version when he comes home from work. Worse than making dinner I shall be expected to make conversation, something I have longed to do for years when the only people in the house who could have engaged with me have either grunted or talked endlessly about Princesses. But I am out of practice. To suddenly find myself at the end of a long day being expected to comment on world affairs and current issues is going to take some doing. I shall have to listen to the news intently and not just when the showbiz stuff comes on. I shall have to buy a newspaper so that I can talk intelligently about Bosnia and not Britney and worse, I shall have to express an interest in Hubby's job. This is the hardest task of all because for the past two and a half years as soon as Hubby started to wax lyrical about his beloved RN, I on the other end of the phone and thus invisible, could do all manner of things: stir gravy, change nappies, answer emails and glug wine but , as long as I occasionally murmured, “Really? Gosh! Fancy! Never?”, then Hubby never knew that I was totally disinterested in the glittering careers of the Royal Navy's finest.
I shan't get away with it when he is sitting directly opposite me, regaling me with the day's events. I shall have to practice an expression that does not betray a look that implies the desire to pick up the TV controls and watch any bloody rubbish. Besides what can I contribute in return? “Red-Head made a lovely glueing and sticking montage today. She actually managed to get at least three milk bottle tops to stick to the paper. Do you want to see it?”, or, “Your son had a good walk to school. He's got plenty of homework to keep him busy, do you want to see his quadratic equations?” or even, “The middle daughter is coming on well in her dancing classes, you should see her disco dancing to Mica”. You see, it works two ways; whilst I have been feigning an interest, then so has Hubby, now – far from tell me that he has a meeting to attend or a call on the other line and therefore dismiss me, he will have to read bedtime stories, practice spellings, nag interminably for his eldest children to get off the computer, put out the rubbish, embrace house maintenance and generally muck in.
I think there will be a period of adjustment, a resettlement if you will, where everyone gets used to the other. My eldest children whilst looking forward to seeing their dad more are dreading a new regime. Up until now they've had it easy, with, apart from the occasional demented outburst, little aggravation from me. I am mostly laid back You don't get to be a Commander however by being a soft touch and so, if they think that a collection of mugs, glasses and plates with old bits of food on them left to putrify in their bedrooms will still be acceptable, then heaven help them.
“Am I going to have to change out of my school uniform the minute I get home?” asked the 12 year old.
“Well dad doesn't like to see you lounging in it does he? He sees your uniform as part of your working day and therefore, when you get home, you should hang it up and change into something a little less formal. He doesn't watch TV in his does he?”
This information did not go down well and the 12 year old flounced off, slamming the door behind her but not before bellowing, “Anyway, you two are going to be screaming at each other for the first two weeks until you get used to each other”. She has a point of course, all the little nit-picking that will undoubtedly initially go on, will make me feel undermined. I can't think of any woman who finds handy household tips from her husband grateful. Most just want to stab them, so when Hubby suggests I have a rota for doing the household chores I shall just have to bite my lip lest I am arrested for manslaughter.
Years ago I remember, on the first day home after a seven month deployment, with a young baby attached to my hip, finding Hubby in the kitchen rearranging the condiments on the kitchen counter.
How our marriage survived and we went on to have three more children baffles me to this day.
My son is concerned that he will still get to see his favourite TV shows, one on channel 4 which starts at 10pm.
“Hmm”, I murmured ruefully, “I'm not too sure darling. Dad really likes Newsnight, so I doubt he'll want to watch Skins, but look at the positive side”.
“Which is?”, he asked,
“You'll be bright eyed and bushy tailed in the mornings and will therefore excel at your GCSE's”. His expression implied he was not convinced. Neither am I but we all love each other and that's what counts. Isn't it?


Sally Lomax said...

I fully sympathise.

Still in the end, once the blip bit is over, it's better than weekending, and certainly long tours. We always spent the first 48 hours after a long tour arguing, and when weekending spent Friday night bickering and Saturday adjusting. Eventually by Sunday we were ok. Then he went.....

So, in the end it will be better......

Once you have adjusted again......

Good luck!!

mind the gap said...

haha I did giggle through that. Good luck and get in a decent supply of gin to get you through. I find it helps immensely.

Mary Alice said...

It is so interesting, getting used to living together again after long seperations of single but married parenthood. I am sure you will all settle in soon enough...though I think the gin may be a good idea!

Lisa said...

Good luck! I have no idea what it will be like, but if it's any comfort, even after living together constantly just as I get used to something my hubby does something new and demented. (Why, after 12 years, do we suddenly not rinse out the sink after shaving?! Disgusting!

Broker said...

I am sure you will find many new ways to amuse yourself during the day. I hope it is a good as you desribe it!

Mopsa said...

Ha ha ha.So much material will be there for you without having to emerge from your front door. Rather than make a hasty retort you can divulge all in your column. Awaiting the next instalment with glee.

belle said...

I am dying to hear what happens next ...
The drawback to the gin will be if he looks down his nose at you and says something like .. 'drinking on a school night ... ?' (Scottish for drinking during the week)
I 'spect the worst bit will be when you are fully adjusted and he gets the next draft in some far flung place (are there any anymore?)