The five year old clung limpet-like to his khaki-clad leg. The four year old wailed. The two year old wandered about looking utterly confused. I swallowed hard, choking on the words. ‘I love you,’ I whispered, ‘please take care.’ He strode down the path, unable to look back. One husband bound for Afghanistan, three sons under six, and me, the Mother Of (three) Boys: the MOB [aka Hannah Evans]
I MET up with a fellow Forces wife, whose husband was on the same tour as mine. We cried together. A bit. “I’m thinking of setting up as a florist,” she announced one weekend, mid-sobs.
I stared at her. The idea of doing anything more than merely surviving the next six months seemed as foreign to me as the country where my husband was. “I’ve always wanted to give it a go,” she said, “and now seems like a good time to do something different.”
I nodded, thoughtful.
I COULDN’T WAIT FOR MONDAY
I dropped my kids off and I had exactly two and three quarter hours before pre-school pick up. Scrabbling about in the study, I found the magazine, picked up the phone and enrolled in a course with The Writers Bureau.
When I was eight I decided that I would be a writer. So write I did. Tales of hedgehogs and horses, poems about roses and love, stories of travel and emotional turmoil. But I hadn’t taken it seriously, ’til now.
Sure, I’d wondered what I might do when the children were all at school, had pondered what career I might be able combine with an ever-absent husband and the “flexibility” of Forces life. And writing had always been an option in the back of my mind, but I’d never got any further than sporadic meanderings.
I threw myself into The Writers Bureau assignments. I attended events (yes, actually went out), talked to established writers (not just children under six), got plenty of “constructive” criticism (harsh but fair), practised and practised, and endeavoured to improve.
I wrote – as people always tell you to – about what I knew. I wrote about Forces life, my family, about the trials and tribulations of being a mother… of boys.
If, as a result of my new-found focus, the deployment didn’t exactly whizz past, it certainly didn’t go any slower.
And then, a national newspaper published one of my pieces. The headline capped a none-too-flattering photo of me in my jeans. “You should write a book!”, said friends, and thus my first publication, MOB Rule: Lessons Learned by a Mother of Boys, was born. Well, conceived anyway.
I’d snatch hours at the keyboard between sundry drop offs and last minute pick-ups, minutes between putting on the washing and hanging it out. I’d scribble anecdotes on the back of shopping lists, jot down brainwaves mid-soup stir or at the kitchen sink. Some nights I dreamt in artistic alliteration.
So now, in 2013, my friend lives in Wales surrounded by avalanche roses and her stunning creations. And MOB Rule was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury.
My husband continues to lead an unaccompanied life and me and the boys are still mostly home alone, but you can’t have everything.
So for anyone whose spouse or partner is about to be deployed, my heart and hopes go out to you and your kin.
Their departure needn’t all be bad because while they’re deployed you, as spouse-in-waiting, could be otherwise “employed”.
This might just be your moment to give it a go.