It's time my kids realise how much I do for them

Justine O'mahony

Published 21/09/2011 | 11:31

L IFE AS we know it in our house has ceased to exist in recent days due to extended work commitments on my behalf for a few weeks. 12 hour shifts and night-time meetings have resulted in the house turning into an even bigger tip than normal (I actually didn't think it was possible but it is) and the kids threatening to ring Childline on the basis of parental neglect.

I know I'm going to sound like my long-suffering mother when I say this, but I can't help feeling it's about time they realised how much I do for them with feck all thanks in return. This whole experience may give them a new appreciation of what a bloody thankless job it is being a mum. Wishful thinking, I know, but one can live in hope.

Having gone to work early on Monday morning, I left them snuggled in their beds with their freshly ironed uniforms laid out, their lunch boxes packed and the table set for breakfast. Apparently they still managed to be late school with the Smallest going in with odd socks on, and the Eldest forgetting his homework and arts and crafts money.

By the time I arrived home at ten on Monday night, cross-eyed with tiredness, they were waiting up for me with a litany of complaints about my absence. "I got no tea," proclaimed the Smallest in indignation. "Why not?" I asked. 'Dad said you forgot to get bread," she replied, apportioning blame to me straight away with her big brown eyes.

'Couldn't you have had something else?" I asked. ' Well, he gave me a banana but that's not proper tea," she sniffed before craftily requesting cookies and milk to make up for my poor housekeeping skills.

She then went on to tell me that Daddy had forgotten to put conditioner in her hair during her shower, he hadn't sprayed her with perfume afterwards and couldn't find her PE gear for the next day.

Into the next bedroom where another barrage of complaints assaulted me, the first one being there was nothing in the fridge to make for his lunch the next day and how I had forgotten to buy him a tin whistle for school.

'How long is this going to go on?" he demanded to know. "How long is what going to go on?" I asked. " You working and not being here. When are things going back to normal?" I storm out of his room but not before delivering my parting shot: "If I died the only reason you'd miss me is because there'd be no food in the fridge and no clean clothes in your wardrobe." He doesn't even bother to deny it.

'Normal' in our house, from the kids perspective (and to a certain degree, from Himself 's perspective) is clean clothes, ironed and put away. A fridge full of food. Dinner on the table every night (ok Fridays are my day off…..and sometimes Sunday's depending on how much wine I've had the night before!) and the house maintained to an acceptable level of cleanliness.

Working part-time and from home, up until now has enabled me to juggle both career and familial duties quite well. I've had the best of both worlds. But as I've told them we're in the middle of a recession, "is that the same as a procession?" the Smallest asked. "Sort of. But you go backwards instead of forwards," I explain.

Working flat out over the past week as forced me to take my foot off the pedal so to speak. They've had chocolate spread sandwiches every day for five days and Himself should have shares in Tayto for the amount of crisps he's put away instead of a dinner. I'm too knackered to do any washing, cooking, or cleaning and my legs haven't seen a razor in a month.

I've promised them normal service will resume shortly. "Does that mean you'll be all smiley again, and cook waffles and nuggets for us and drink lots of wine?" asks the Smallest.

Oh. Please. God!!

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