"I want mummy". This is a cry that is commonly to be heard in my house. The boys behave as if I ration my time with them until the point where they are virtually starved of maternal affection. It's as if I am one of those old fashioned mothers who fills her time with luncheons and games of bridge, only breaking off for a brief goodnight kiss before the children are spirited back to some far off nursery with their starched nanny.
For goodness sake I work from home three days a week. I do every school drop off and often sneak off to do pick ups too. I pop down frequently in the day for a hug or a quick chat. I am not some distant figure who only looms large at breakfast and bedtime, and yet my boys act as if I never there.
I bend over backwards to fit in special trips with the older boys, taking them out for meals, to the theatre, shopping and days out. If push comes to shove I will always sacrifice work to be there for my boys.
I miss the boys all the time I am not with them too though, so perhaps I should have more sympathy for their feelings. Perhaps I should understand that all the hours we spend together count for nothing when held against those hours we spend apart. But it makes me feel so torn. I would love drop everything and be with them all the time, but we have bills to pay.
My husband was trying to explain this to our son when he burst into tears as I revealed I was going out to meetings on two days in a row, but this seemed to have him sobbing even harder. Even my mother said that the boys might prefer me to the money I earn - though I am not sure the mortgage company would.
I just can't win. I often wonder if by bending over backwards to deliver as much quality time as I can I actually makes things worse. The boys might be happier if I didn't keep randomly popping up whenever I have 10 minutes free. But I am too selfish to give up my stolen cuddles and I think that they would miss them too.
I suppose I will just have to carry on doing what every other mum does, muddling through whilst feeling guilty.