He is gone. You miss him so much it hurts. You obsessively check your phone and email every 4 minutes. You send slushy “miss you so much” texts. You spray his aftershave onto his pillow and sleep with his t-shirt every night. You change your phone/work computer screen saver to your favourite picture of you both on holiday/smiling/totally in love/without a care in the world/at the last homecoming. The days go on FOREVER. You don’t go out, you don’t speak to anyone… you can’t speak to anyone. Nobody in the world feels as empty and hollow as you do. the sight of a “welcome home Daddy” banner brings you to tears. This lasts exactly 2 weeks.
In the words of the great Kriss Akabusi. Positive. Mental. Attitude. Or in other words,time to put your big girl pants on. A fresh sense of determination fills you. You look up old friends you’ve lost touch with and arrange to meet up. You join clubs…Slimming World/Weight Watchers/the gym/a zumba class/a choir in your enthusiasm to meet new people. You plan nights out, go to coffee mornings, toddler groups, volunteer at child 1’s school. You decide to redecorate your living room/bedroom (or at the very least rearrange it). You spend hours in B&Q, Homebase and the Range collecting wallpapers swatches and tester pots of paint. You stick the paper up and paint small squares of different shades of your chosen colour all over one wall…
You have slipped into a well established routine. Everything is settled, comfortable,running smoothly, under control, and slightly boring. It goes something like this.
- Monday:Take child 1 to school. Take child 2 to toddler group, make small talk with other (dull) mums there. Do a coloured wash.Pick up child 1 from school. Have chicken and jacket potato for tea. Put kids to bed, watch eastenders and corrie.
- Tuesday:Take child 1 to school. Have coffee with your mother. Do a white wash. Pick up child 1 from school. Spag bol for tea. Put kids to bed, watch eastenders and corrie.
- Wednesday:Take child 1 to school. Stay for parent/carer coffee morning. Watch loose women. Pick child 1 up from school, take child 1 to swimming lesson/judo/dance/cubs. Have beans on toast for tea, watch last nights recorded Holby City in the absence of eastenders.
- Thursday:Take child 1 to school. Do weekly shop. Watch loose women. Pick up child 1 from school. Have sausages for tea. Put kids to bed, watch eastenders and corrie.
- Friday:Take child 1 to school. Meet up with friends at monkey bizness/playzone for coffee. Pick up child 1 from school. Do uniform wash. Have chippy for tea. put kids to bed with dvd, watch eastenders and corrie with wine.
- Saturday:Meet friend at park. Have lunch at friends house. Take kids to MacyDs for tea. Put kids to bed with dvd. Watch reality tv (seasonal:bgt/x-factor/I’m a celebrity/Strictly come Dancing). With wine
- Sunday:Visit family. Have sunday lunch with family. Bath and hair wash night for kids before bed. Watch slushy movie while ironing school uniform.
Or those of you without kids…
- Monday-Thursday:Get up, go to work, come home. Eat microwave meal. Watch hollyoaks/eastenders/corrie. Play games on Facepest Go to bed.
- Friday & Saturday:Go shopping, go out, get wankered. Leave drunken answer phone messages on his voicemail.
- Sunday:Lie on sofa eating junk and watching movies.
This stage lasts roughly 1-2 months… and then one (or if you’re really unlucky a few) things from the sods law bingo list happen. You are firmly shoved into stage 4…
STAGE 4-THATS JUST BLOODY TYPICAL!
It always happens when he’s away! You get some bad news. You discuss it endlessly and obsessively with your fellow WAGs. You agonise over whether or not you should tell him. On one hand he’d want to know and be there for you, but on the other hand he’ll only worry and there’s nothing he can do from the ship, right? But on the other hand he’ll be upset with you if you don’t tell him and he finds out at a later date or when he gets home, but what if you can’t handle it and you have to get NPFS involved… its such a dilemma! You decide not to tell him. You keep your emails light and chatty, careful not to mention aforementioned bad news…everything is fine, And then he calls. He asks you how you are. DISASTER! You crumble faster than a dunked rich tea biscuit! The whole sorry story comes spilling out accompanied by a soundtrack of sniffs, snorts, snot and tears. Attractive. He says ” I wish i was home with you right now”… you cry more. He says “don’t cry darling”… you cry even more. You deal with the crisis on your own.
Brilliant! The halfway day! Now you can count down to homecoming instead of counting up the days he’s been away! You start letting yourself think about homecoming. What will you wear? Where will you meet up with the other WAGS? Should you buy a new outfit? (In the words of the shopping guru Cher from Clueless, Duh! Of course you should!) And shoes? And a bag? Oh the excitement! Which leads me neatly into stage 6…
Panic stations! You’ve still got so much to do before he gets home! The bedroom has still got wall paper samples stuck to it, there are paint squares decorating your planned ‘feature wall’, you need to think about hiding all your new clothes, shoes and handbags in the back of your wardrobe. You haven’t been to any of the clubs/coffee mornings/zumba classes you signed up for in stage 2. Where did the time go!? You make waxing/nail/hair appointments for the fortnight before homecoming, put yourself on a diet and paint everything magnolia all the while cursing yourself for being so bloody unorganised. Fuck.
STAGE 7-TIME STANDS STILL
There are only 6 weeks to go. And time has pretty much stopped. Nobody knows why this happens, but it does. The last 6 weeks are officially the longest, slowest, most annoying weeks of the entire deployment. Fact.
STAGE 8-HOMECOMING NERVES
You’ve made it. It is the night before homecoming. you have hoovered, polished, tidied, organised, made the bed, cleaned behind the fridge, washed the windows (inside and out), and scrubbed the bathroom. You yourself are wedding night ready…plucked, shaved, waxed, trimmed, straightened, exfoliatied and moisturised in homecoming night readiness. The night before homecoming, (for those who are non military) is like christmas eve as a child. Times a million. It is butterflies in your stomach, its shiny new shoes, it’s looking down from the top of a rollercoaster, its smiling at yourself in the mirror, its making squealing noises (out loud) when you think of him being home. It is EVERY perfect ending of EVERY slushy chick flick you have EVER seen. It is Whitney running to Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, it is Mark Darcy saying “Oh yes they fucking do”, it’s Johnny Depp growling in Crybaby, it’s Rachel when she got off the plane, Chandler proposing to Monica, it’s when Kat married Alfie, it’s the song from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, its Kate and Leo standing on the bow of the Titanic. It is “nobody puts baby in the corner”. And the lift. It is ALL these moments and so much more. It is homecoming.
Pat yourselves on the back ladies. You have survived!