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  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • Sep. 08, 2021 - 1:10 PM

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Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at

I sneak off to our bedroom, quietly close the door and assume a comfortable position on our bed. I pick up my book.

In a few minutes, my wife walks in.

“Whatcha doin,” she asks.

Now, the clock is ticking.

"You’ve gotta get out of here,” I say.

Before she can ask “why,” one of our kids barges through the door and jumps on our bed.

The dog follows in, and the other child joins.

“Hey, what’s going on in here?” he asks.

I love my wife, and I think she likes me too, which is why it’s a shame that the two of us can’t share a room for more than 30 seconds before one of the kids finds us.

According to the Coweta County Tax Digest, our house is approximately 2,073 square feet.

Adjusted for living with two kids, that breaks down to around 48 square feet of unchallenged privacy, which is coincidentally the approximate measurement of our bathroom.

My wife is a kid magnet, and our kids absolutely must know where she is at all times.

“Where’s Mom,” is probably the most uttered phrase in our house. “I don’t know,” would probably come in second.

Last Sunday morning, I woke up and set up on the back porch to read an essay on "interdependence,” the central insight of Mahayana Buddhism.

It means that nothing exists separate from all the other things in the universe. Every person lives only by relying on the support of others.

Halfway into my reading, I get a text from my son. He’s ready to come home from a sleepover at his grandparents house.

It’s 9 a.m., and I’m a little annoyed, to put it mildly. I’m not even halfway done with my coffee.

How dare my family interrupt my personal time of studying the importance of interdependence…

For me, the hours between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. are, without question, my favorite part of the day.

It’s a sacred time where the world is quiet, the mind is fresh, and I’m ready to invite the possibilities of a new day.

I could go for a bike ride, walk the dog, or drink my coffee on the porch while reading. If it’s a good Saturday, it could be all three.

Unfortunately, five days out of the week, this time period coincides directly with mandatory parental obligations with my job waiting in the wings.

Last year, I began making an effort to get up earlier. I knew that if I needed some personal time, it was my only chance.

My son, inspired by this move, also decided to become an early riser.

I love my children. I truly do. Cats in the cradle and all that, but the idea of having a morning entirely to myself seems about as distant as winning the lottery.

A particularly depressing study recently asked parents how many kids they would have if they could do it over.

Nearly 10 percent said zero. Burnout is certainly real, but I would never imagine my life would be any better without kids.

Maybe easier, but rarely does anything “easy” make anyone better.

The greatest gift of parenthood is the realization that life isn’t about me and my needs. As a result, my life has grown experientially richer.

Our legacies aren’t tangible. They’re the culmination of our words and actions as passed down to others, so I keep that in mind every time a new “opportunity” comes up.

I’m told it’s not the problem, it’s how we react to the problem.

“Where’s Dad?”

I think he snuck off to his office on a holiday weekend to write a column about the importance of gratitude and family.


Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at