Since I was first selected as a candidate in the European Elections I have been asked one question more than any other - its not about my views on healthcare, education, the economy (or EU budgets) but very quietly from county town to tiny village I have been taken aside by a concerned voter to ask how I would balance this job whilst also being a mother.
Perhaps the past few day's diary will give you a snapshot. On Friday morning I dropped the kids at school. Then I went to Watford (Hertfordshire), met our Westminster Candidate and many volunteers to collect signatures in the High Street demanding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The children were collected from school by a friend, went swimming and then back home to dad. In the meantime I spent a couple hours in Loughton (Essex) with Eleanor Laing MP. It was incredibly impressive to see Eleanor meeting many friends amongst her constituents, handing out leaflets, taking notes of local problems to help with later. Her constituents know that on Friday evenings she is usually outside the tube station and one constituent even came off the tube with a bundle of papers on an issue she wanted to share with her MP. I then went on to Southend to a public meeting - returning late.
My 11 year old daughter has been pestering me for a shopping trip. So yesterday, Saturday we went to Sudbury (Suffolk.) Whilst I joined Conservatives campaigning in the High Street and market square while my daughter enjoyed the tweenie paradise of "New Look" and picked up some presents for school friends. I handed out leaflets and combined doing some food shopping with discussing business with local market traders and politics with shoppers.
We raced back home for my final rehearsal - I sing in a choir. Last night's concert was a mixture of Gershwin, Bernstein and then lots of ABBA. My husband peeled himself and my boys off the cricket pitch just a bit late for the first half.... everyone was a bit late to bed still singing Mamma Mia.
Today, Sunday - day off - cricket training with the children in Saffron Walden, lunch in a cafe in the market square. Then Hannah Montana movie with my daughter in the afternoon (Hannah has 200 million viewers every week - we grown-ups should take note) ending up in a family supper with local lamb and some of the English Asparagus I bought yesterday. Yummy.... and a bit of emergency ironing!
I have no doubt that if elected on June 4th I will miss my family hugely for the 3 nights a week I will often spend away. But this is no different to the life of friends who are midwifes, doctors or casualty nurses who also work hours away from their family. Like them, I will be doing a job that I believe can make a difference, and like every working mum in the country I will need to concentrate on devoting time to both work and family.