Friday 2 December 2016

The mother of all election campaigns

Running for the Dail is a tough task, particularly when your children pile on the guilt over your absence, says Carol Hunt

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

On the canvass: Carol on the campaign trail, minus children, during the General Election Photo: Justin Farrelly
On the canvass: Carol on the campaign trail, minus children, during the General Election Photo: Justin Farrelly

The teenage daughter is near ecstatic at the sight. "The fridge is full", she sings. "I can't believe it. It's really full... Of food," she adds, in case we make the mistake of assuming that she would be as deliriously happy if it was packed with, say, a decent vintage of Pinot Grigio or a dozen bottles of stout. The fridge is indeed full, of cheap but nutritious groceries purchased at a nearby Aldi, and the fact that she finds this such a wondrous event only adds to the already burgeoning weight of guilt that has been steadily piled upon me in recent weeks. But at least she's talking to me. And she still accepts me as her mother. My younger son informed me some days ago that the dog is his new mammy because the dog "is always there when I need him". The fact that the dog is a male puppy called Frank doesn't seem to lessen his suitability for parenting. Not compared to my recent efforts at any rate. The son has declared he will be charging me per hour of neglect. I may soon be bankrupt unless I can organise some sort of debt resettlement with him.

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This column could be called The Confessions of an Irish Mammy who Ran for Office. It's not a pleasant read. The words 'Amnesty Ireland', 'Childline', 'benign neglect' and 'good-enough mothering' have been flung around with abandon in our home during recent weeks. Thankfully, I wasn't there often enough to be upset or even bothered by them, but I'm back now and the full enormity of my absence is being laid bare by my formerly adoring children.

In my defence, I would like the prosecution to note that a report published this week (The Overseas Development Agency) found that, worldwide, women typically undertake three-quarters of all child-care. However, in Ireland, it found that mothers do 93pc of the (unpaid) work with children.

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