James and I met the weekend before he joined the Navy. I didn’t know his name for an entire week and he was saved in my phone as Navy Boy. To me, he has always come with the Navy. And yeah, okay I knew what I was getting into but funnily enough I actually fell in love with him- not his job.
I haven’t exactly kept my feelings about being a Navy wife a secret. Coming second to your husbands job is one thing, but seeing your child(ren) be constantly let down by the most reliable guy on the earth because of his job- now that is honest heartbreak.
After Oliver’s minor breakdown throughout our big separation (12 months due to posting and me deciding I had had enough and had to move home) we knew James’ days as a serving member of the RAN were numbered. And thus, just under 12 months ago, he submitted his discharged and began applying for the police force.
This was moving along really nicely, when he decided to try his hand at securing an I.T job. And before we knew it, he had one (of course he did, he is amazing and an absolute asset to anyone who gets the pleasure of working with him).
Just two weeks ago, James’ discharge from the Navy came through. And in true Navy style it came through just hours before his last shift ended and only three days before he started his new role, but I digress.
So, after almost 9 years as a defence family- we are now 2 weeks into civilian life. And honestly, it’s not that different. I mean, for the last 18months we have been blessed with a land posting, which surely has helped with the transition.
But it’s the little things, like enrolling O into Primary School (good timing) and knowing he will be able to complete his school years there. And finding the perfect daycare for Im and knowing she won’t have to switch in a years time. Even finding the time to register the dog in Victoria- because we know we are here forever now. We can plan holidays, because you know- no crash postings. Oh and weekends, not duties so we can actually be sure James will be home.
So yeah, it’s not that different. But at the same time, it just feel so different.
I mean, if you could imagine living life on a fault line- that’s kind of what our life has been like for the last 9 years. It’s been amazing, we’ve both had fantastic opportunities and BOY have we met some fantastic people. But you never really know when it’s going to all come crashing down. And you literally get no say in it, I mean you can build a stronger house but when that tremor comes, my gosh can it really shake you up.
I know there are going to be days harder than others in this transition. I mean, it was our whole life for 9 long years. But there will never be a day harder than ANZAC day 2015, James was deployed but came back to march in Canberra. O was so excited to have his Daddy back. When James joined the march down ANZAC parade, the look of fear washed over O’s face. He ran up to many men in their uniforms looking for his Dad. We finally found him in the parade and O ran up to him. I had to try and hold my 3 year old son back from his Dad whilst he was screaming, kicking, crying. He just wanted his Dad. He was terrified as he wasn’t confident that he would come home that night. The look on James’ face as he marched was just as heart breaking. People around us stared, some were annoyed- I explained to some the situation, but I gave up caring what people thought long before that. Fortunately our au pair was nearby and she helped to calm my heartbroken little boy, whilst James completed his march. And that was his life for 12 months, never knowing when his Daddy was coming or going.
It’s not easy being a defence family. We all made huge sacrifices, obviously James made huge sacrifices but the person who really missed out the most was our little O. It really shaped every fibre of his being for a long time, and it has taken almost two years for him to shake it off. It’s such a relief that he NEVER has to go through it again, and that Im will never know the stress that her big bro went through.
Being a navy wife has been an absolute privilege, not because of the Navy but because of James. I would do it all in a heartbeat to be with him. But I am glad to no longer but married to the Navy, and the best bit- I still get my James!