Feb 7, 2018

New Beginnings - Clare Connelly

With my daughter
"The days are long, but the years are short." UGH. I cannot tell you how much I came to resent that phrase when I had little kids. The first time I heard it was out of the mouth of a well-intentioned stranger in a supermarket. My then two year old had thrown himself to the linoleum floor of Woolworths in a fit of pique because I wouldn't buy him a Kinder Surprise, and my six month old was stuck in a loop of pushing her dummy from her mouth, spitting it to the bottom of the apple cart, and wailing until I retrieved it.

I wanted to throw myself onto the ground alongside my son. The last thing I needed was to be given a platitude!

I love my children to bits, and I am so grateful - really, grateful beyond words - to have been able to have two healthy babies (particularly when many diabetics struggle to conceive and deliver.) Whilst being mindful of my good-fortune, I have to say, there have been times along this mummy-hood journey that have caused me to doubt my temperament to parent. Before I had children, I thought I would be such a relaxed mum, a fun mum! I swore I'd never be one of those screechy mummies who snapped at children in the supermarket or on the street. Or at all, come to think of it! I would never shout! I would only ever use a calm voice, and we would sing songs and read books, and do craft (because I would have endless energy to wipe paint from fingers and dust glitter from toes!). And there'd be so much laughter, all the time, except when they were sleeping, because they would sleep hours and hours, wouldn't they?


I had two kids close together and my sanity began to sap in the middle and my exhaustion grew to epic proportions and all my good-intentions seemed to muddy in the waters of reality.

My mantra
Around the time my son reached two and a half years,  out of desperation, I wrote this note to myself and jammed it to the fridge door. I read it over and over like an incantation, a meditation to find patience.

The note is still there, five years later, and yet already I know how much less I need it. The little voice that used to follow me around all day, telling me all of the things he found interesting, all of the adventure he adored, asking me question after question after question, has become quieter. Less frequent. More considered. He's a big boy, on the way to adulthood, and he needs me less now than he did then. 

This week, my daughter started school. And a huge part of my heart broke. She's bright and sweet and kind and funny, and so ready for this stage of her life - the heartbreak was all for myself.

For seven years I have been wading through the days, exhausted, tired, and with the benefit of hindsight, so very happy and heart-full.

For a brief window of time, I had two constant little sidekicks, and I was so lucky and blessed to have had that experience.  On the morning I dropped my daughter at her first day of school, I went to my shopping centre to pick up essentials (and a much needed cup of coffee!). I found myself looking at the little people there, the way they were following their parents around, or were being pushed in prams, and my heart was heavy. In particular, I found myself watching one mum with three little children in a trolley. She looked so tired, so frustrated, so close-to-tears, and I so badly wanted to go up to her and say, "The days are long, and the years are short."
Two school bags and shoes in the hallway, sob!
Obviously, I didn't. The years might, in fact, be short but my memory isn't. I sent her a sympathetic smile and kept going on my way. But really, it turns out, the platitude is true. 

One of the things I did to 'keep calm and carry on' was take the kids to the park - the one nearest our house is great for kids of all ages. I could take a book and a cup of tea and sit on the bench while they played for HOURS. What's your favourite way to get through situations that are a little bit stressful? Do you read? Meditate? Watch movies? Listen to Metallica at full volume? Cook lasagne? I'd love to know, and I'm giving away a signed copy of HER WEDDING NIGHT SURRENDER, my upcoming Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Sexy title to a random commenter.


Pietro has strict rules for his marriage…

And he’s breaking every one of them!

Pietro Morelli is breaking his own rule—seducing his virgin bride! Heiress Emmeline is meant to be a wife of convenience, but the intense chemistry between them is more powerful than either can deny. But while Pietro hides a devastating secret, can they ever have more than a marriage in name only?


  1. Hi Clare

    What a fabulous post and so on the spot mothers are the best, I had 4 kids in 6 years and I minded kids the same age for a teacher friend so there was often times I had 6 pre-schoolers at home with me that was lots of fun, but I wouldn't change it for anything my kids are now adults and three of them have children of their own I have 8 grandkids 2 who live with me so I am doing it all again but they are 12 and 10 high school so much fun :)

    I turn off by reading and always have I get lost in a story and it helps me breathe so to speak.

    As always I look forward to your new book I love your stories

    have Fun


    1. Gosh, Helen, you have had your hands full (and your heart!) for a long time. How wonderful to have had such a busy, chaotic house. Reading is just the best!

  2. Gorgeous! :-) And I love your mantra.

    I, however, have a card pinned to my fridge with a picture of a 1950s housewife trying to feed a screaming child sitting in a highchair and the caption reads: Margaret couldn't wait for it to grow up and leave. ;-)

  3. Oh yes, Clare, all the things I said my children would never do or be like certainly came back and bit me in the bum when I actually became a parent!

    As you know I'm in the middle of buying a house, selling a house and packing and moving 700kms north. I know that the people who decide these things say that buying/selling/moving are some of the most stressful things you can do in your life. And the process hasn't been smooth sailing. During those stressful moments I usually go watch some TV. I can't settle my mind to either writing or reading but TV is so passive and very good for taking ones mind off things!

    1. You're absolutely right. Especially when you have a favourite show where the characters feel like friends, and it's so comforting to slip into their lives.

  4. My 2 boys are now grown and on their own, so I get to enjoy my 19 month old grandson. It's so odd to me that his parents are always "googling" toddler behavior on their phones, while we just had common sense and some words of wisdom from our female friends or relatives (and our kids survived and thrived without online technical support). The little guy's mannerisms and daredevil energy are so much like his father as a toddler, it makes me smile! I love to have him sit on my lap and read him stories, I hope he develops a love of reading like his grandmother, as reading is my favorite way to unwind!

  5. Lmao I am 1 of 13 and the 3 rd oldest behind a brother with MD who passed and a sister with MS who was my bestie growing up. We learned patience and child rearing from mom. So when I became a mother ( Irish twins ) and then married my second husband we had 2 kids always the same age whether it was the older two or younger two but whenever I got stressed I decided to be useful and cleaning became my way of dealing with stress. Needless to say House was always spotless. Lol

  6. Hi Clare, I like to read or paint or sometimes watch a movie or t.v.,all can be good ways to relax.

  7. When my kids were small, I too took them to the park. Actually, it was a different park every day of the week, and I too could read my books (although only a paragraph or so at a time to start). The kids loved it, especially as they became more independent and could actually climb on structures unescorted.
    Play dates (as they are called today) were fun, as my kids had new toys to enjoy at their friends' homes or they could share their own toys here at home with them.
    We had special (crafting, usually) events at our local library weekly, although I often had to supervise more than just my own kids (but they were sitting at a table, which made it much easier).
    My kids are now 32 and 30. They invite me or my husband, depending on where they are going, to join them on regular outings. My married daughter and I grocery shop most weekends together, often stopping in at my brother's home half an hour away too; we also play badminton together at our towns, taking turn driving. She's a daycare teacher who is required to eat with the little ones, but she drives 10 minutes across town to join me on her "lunch hour" (just so she can get away from staff who find excuses to interrupt her down time, plus we can catch up on daily events). My still-living-at-home son invites me to join him at other badminton events, or he might want my help in "getting a good deal", especially when buying vehicles.
    What I'm trying to say is that many kids are still a big part of our lives, even later in life, and then come grandkids that you can hand back! I hear that that is QUITE enjoyable, LOL!

  8. Looking at it now from my vantage point of the great-grandmother I feel so calm: they're just curious, they'll grow out of it, enjoy it while you can. . . . But I do still remember the days as a young mother wondering when the fun would start and some of the teaching and disciplining and cleaning and exhaustion would leave. One of my granddaughters has 4 young children, and I know how judgmental people can be, even asking are they ALL yours, so when I am out and see a parent struggling I always try to smile or say hi to the kids or somehow convey that not all of us think we have a bad parent and wild children here.
    As for me, reading is still the best way to destress.

  9. Oh Clare. What a gorgeous post. Those days when the kids are small are so precious but so stressful at the same time.

    To destress I either go for a run or bike ride, or binge watch rom coms (often with my daughter).

  10. Clare, I can so relate to your post!
    For me, destressing involves usually a long walk or a good book (aka. time alone doing something just for me).

  11. What gorgeous kids, Clare. Go you. For distressing I like to walk or do some physical activity, but when the little grandies are involved it's harder. Haven't quite found the solution for that yet. :)