I am a married stay at home mother to four boys under the age of seven. My husband is self-employed. Self-employed in the construction industry. A few years ago, it seems like an alternate universe now, times were good. The economy was booming and there was always disposable income for things like a social life, a holiday during the summer, a nice Christmas, a couple of home improvements, a meal out on a regular basis. As a married couple with no children, we didn’t go mental. Anything my husband made went straight back into the business. We bought a very modest three bed, end of terrace house in a housing estate. I was working (outside the home) back then so I was able to contribute to the costs of daily living. Then our family expanded and things shifted slightly. Ok, a lot. Immediately, on having our first son I knew I would not, could not possibly go back to work and leave him. I also knew we were going to have more children. And we are lucky because we did. I have no time for that old chestnut about not having kids if you can’t afford them. It is usually the ones who don’t want children who say this. And that is fair enough, that is your decision. But it is also like saying don’t get sick if you can’t afford to go to the doctor. It’s old and it’s tired but that is a separate argument. During the good times, each and every month, without fail, the Children’s Allowance went into the boys’ Credit Union accounts. I also put their birthday and Christmas money in there. Due to his position in the family, our firstborn, holding the honour of being on this earth a little longer than his brothers, had the largest sum in his account. These accounts held their nest egg for the future. It was the start of their college fund, or a way to help them towards buying their first car. By the time our fourth son was born, the arse had fallen out of the construction industry and his monthly portion of the Children’s Allowance didn’t get anywhere near his Credit Union account. He has one in name only. There is nothing in it. He is 18 months old. By the time our fourth son was born, and throughout that pregnancy, we were depending on our Children’s Allowance to put food on the table and the monthly standing orders into the Credit Union had long since been cancelled. The boy’s nest egg was slowly but surely eaten into. The Tax Man got a large chunk out of it. I was doing a school run one day and smoke started to billow from the floor of the passenger side of the car. It stopped on the side of the road and slowly died there. We had to dip into the boys’ Credit Union accounts once more. The “new” ten year old car all but depleted what was left. Then we had to withdraw the last one thousand euros to move house. We have four boys. Four healthy, robust boys that are in rude health. But boys will be children who fall ill on occasion and considering our new circumstances we applied for a GP card. We received it after 6 months and lots of jumping through lots of hoops. This card helps. It helps a lot. It is the only other assistance we receive from the government. Our grocery shop is dependent on our Children’s Allowance. We are not alone. In fact we are the same as everyone else at the moment. Our Children’s Allowance is what allows our children to eat. There is nothing left over for anything else. And now they are talking about cutting it back. Again. For the second time. There were reports in the media that it was going to be cut by 100 euro per child. The government said there was no such plan. There never had been. Then they pulled back a bit and another figure was floated, as a taster, to get everyone up in arms. In the end we will think we are doing ok to have our Children’s Allowance cut by “only” 40 euro. Per child. Sure, it could be worse, couldn’t it? We’re lucky it’s not more. What really irritates and annoys me is the complete total and utter lack of regard the government have for what we do. You know the way our kids don’t really care how tired we are or how hard we work? You know the way we make sacrifices to stay at home and mind them? Nurture them, care for them, educate them, protect them, love them and provide for them? The way you lose, bit by bit, day by day, another piece of your identity by being a stay at home parent. It happens very slowly, very gradually but very definitely. Like the wind blowing pieces of grit and debris against the rock face, that too slowly starts to erode. It’s inevitable. All of that stuff. As annoying and irritating and frustrating as losing my identity is, I’ve gained another one. I am a mother first and foremost to our kids. A person in my own right? Not even a close second. Our boys just don’t see me like that. They are allowed to get away with it because they are our kids and they are young. But I’ll tell you this. The government sure as hell aren’t!! What we, mothers, fathers, parents, alike are doing is bringing up the next generation. And in a few years time, they will be the ones keeping this country going. To have the current government bit by little bit, take our kids’ money away, is akin to them saying they don’t give a shit about them. Didn’t one of them, not too far back, say he didn’t care, that he’d be long gone from politics by then? Remember that? A couple of years ago now the government tried to take the medical card away from our senior citizens. It didn’t happen because they went out in force and expressed how pissed off they were about that. Nobody was expecting their revolt. Least of all the government. By the same token, they are also thinking that mothers, the ones who are so busy doing worthless, unimportant work, won’t protest against these cuts. We simply don’t have the time to get out there and kick up a stink. But it doesn’t necessarily mean taking to the streets. Everyone has a voice and this can be expressed in different ways. Come on! Stand up and be heard! Don’t let them take our Children’s Allowance. I love my kids. I want them to have little extras like swimming lessons, gym class on Saturday afternoon, the odd frivolous treat, new bloody clothes for crying out loud. It’s getting harder and harder to do this. A lady I knew chastised me once for deciding against buying something because I thought the money would be better spent on some bill or other. Her thoughts on my actions were that I wasn’t thinking highly enough of myself, I was sending out the message I didn’t think I was worthy of the impulse buy. And what’s more, she said, I was also sending the same message that I am not worth it to my family. She should know what she is talking about; she’s a psychiatrist. Not mine I might add. I can't afford one. Don’t let’s send a similar message to our government.