Monday, 19 September 2011

Guest Blogger: Clare Macnaughton - A Modern Military Mother

When I met my RAF pilot husband, nicknamed Hagar the Horrible, for his Viking warrior status, he was a vibrant, bouncy energetic shade of yellow. I was deep shade blue as I had broken my leg and couldn’t walk. He burst into my life, loudly declared “hello, dream date”, swept me off my feet and we rode off into the sunset. Over time and evolution, rank, role, combat and age Hagar lost his colourful brightness and moved into an intransigent black and white.

First, because I loved him so, I tried to be a bit of black and white, but it was too rigid for me, so then I adopted a steely shade of grey. Eventually, I could bear it no longer and I went for pink and green, sometimes red, sometimes purple, turquoise and yellows. I wanted to roll myself in colour and tiptoe barefoot through the tulips. I couldn’t live with black and white anymore.

The difficulty with black and white is that the military precision is such that it doesn’t allow for flaws, fun and chaos. It’s very restrictive and our two children, our son, The Grenade, aged 8 (nicknamed so because when he younger he could destroy a room in 20 seconds) and The Menace, our daughter, aged 3 (called this because she quietly goes about her business silently creating disaster in her wake) can’t breathe in the rigidity of Hagar’s need for order, structure, command and control.

It’s harder when he returns from war because the war is run like a well-oiled machine. The focus is time, precision, prepping, delivery and execution – everyone know their place and their role.

Hagar returns; he is tired and angry. He doesn’t even know he is angry. He thinks it’s ok to shout but we don’t shout in anger here. We have been rolling in sunshine, colour and laughter, while he sweltered in the darkness. I give him a spoon; a wooden spoon and I take him to a light room for him to breathe out the dark smoke and breathe in the white light.

Life is complex, post war and we watch out for loud bangs and tired, grumpy Hagars. We try and bring him back down to earth with beauty and life. Meanwhile the battle continues on. Peace and love.

Clare Macnaughton is a Modern Military Mother, juggling a busy career as a writer and marketing consultant with a husband serving in the RAF and two small children.


  1. Gosh. Such a bi-polar existence for all you all. The ripples from war extend well into 'peace' time, don't they?

  2. I'd never really thought about the difficulty during the time when you come back together from having spent in two completely different worlds. Like Steve said, such a bi-polar existence.

  3. That must be so hard. I remember when my OH was grieving the loss of his father. Just as you describe, he didn't know he was angry either. Because he didn't even realise he was being rude and unreasonable, he'd blame me for the arguments - giving him an excuse to be even more rude and unreasonable!! That time has passed, thank goodness, but I remember clearly how upsetting it was. xx

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