The Circle of Baths
With God's help

Max, my complex boy, worries me at times. He’s…what? He’s stroppy (thank you, Alison). Here’s an illustration: when Tre was a baby and breastfeeding, he bit me once. I jumped and said sternly, “No biting.” His little chin wobbled, he burst into tears, and he never never bit me again (at least, not when breastfeeding. He did bite everyone’s toes for a while, but that’s a different story). Max, on the other hand, bit me the first time when he was about four months old. I, confident that I knew how to handle this, jumped and said sternly, “NO BITING.” Max looked back at me, milk dribbling down his chin, and giggled.

And proceeded to bite me every. single. time. he nursed. On his first birthday I handed him a bottle and informed him that the days of treating Mama like chewing gum were over.

Here is the crux of my relationship with Max: I still feel guilty for weaning him. And so it goes. He pushes and pushes and pushes and no matter how I react, I fret it wasn’t the RIGHT way or the BEST way and I feel guilty and worry about him. I just don’t know if I’m up to the job of being his mother. At night I sit by his bed sometimes and pray special prayers for him. Please be ok, I think, smoothing back his thick, wavy hair. Please be happy and well.

Today the boys were building a fort with all the pillows and blankets in the house. Raphael was being entirely obnoxious during this project. He crawled over newly constructed walls, he hid under blankets and SCREAMED in that special pitch that makes the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I don’t know what his deal was this morning, but he was taking devilish glee in tormenting his brothers. When he’d knocked down one too many carefully constructed forts, Tre had HAD IT with the child.

“THAT’S IT,” I heard him bellow, “I’m not building forts with you ANY MORE, EVER.”

Raphael promptly burst into tears and ran to me. He planted his feet in front of me, dropped his head back and wailed with wide open mouth. There were no words, just a torrent of sorrow. I watched him in silence, waiting for him to calm down enough to outline his tale of woe. Max stood behind me, I assumed so he could tell me the extent of Raphael’s wrongs. I sat down and rubbed Raphi’s arms, gentling him a bit.

“Tre…said…he…won’t…build…forts…with…meeeeeeeee,” he wept. I nodded, but before I could answer, Max’s arm snaked over my shoulder. He caught one of his brother’s tears with his finger, then the other. I turned to look at him, and his face was twisted with grief of his own.

“You ok, honey?”

He nodded, but his jaw was set against tears.

“It just breaks my heart right up to see him cry like that.”

I swiveled a bit, so I could pull them both on my lap. Raphi collapsed against my chest, full of a sense of having been wronged. Max leaned against me and tangled his fingers in my hair. I hugged them both and murmured the truth, comforting us all.

“It’s ok. You’re ok.”



I just love to see my daughters developing their relationship with each other. The other day Arielle said to Gabrielle, "I love you!" and gave her a hug. I just melted. My sisters are my best friends. I hope my girls have that, too, when they grown up.


so i always make the mistake of reading you when i'm at work and afterwards all i want to do is go home and Snuggle With My Baby Boy (he's still young enough that i can do that). i cannot WAIT to get home in a little while to him.


Great post!

Tag! You're it!


And once again, as the result of reading your words on your precious sons, the room am I am in fills with the sound of a heart tearing in two.

I can only imagine the prayers God hears from hearts like yours when "stroppy sons" are involved, but if it's okay for me to say, I think your boys will be beyond okay. Thanks for sharing such moments.

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