As a new mother, it is a wonderful gift to have a good friend who is one step ahead of you in raising children.  I was blessed with that gift in Birmingham in my friend Lauren Brooks.  Her oldest daughter–Caroline, is a couple of years older than Pace, and her daughter–Natalie, is only 2 months older than Pace.  Those first few years of mothering, I came to her often.  She had the wisdom of someone who had done what seemed impossible to me at the time–kept a baby alive through infancy–and she was doing it AGAIN alongside me, quite literally across the street.  It was on Lauren’s front porch that I first put anything solid into Pace’s mouth (and Pace did not immediately choke as I was certain she would ;)).  It was Lauren who reassured me that I would ONE DAY sleep through a whole night again and that Pace’s front two teeth would not always look 4 sizes too big for her head… There were many deeper truths that Lauren shared, but these were the first three that came to mind. I was worried about those big teeth 😉

So when Lauren told me, after Mary Aplin was born, that my children would rotate who would be my most difficult to handle at different times–I believed her.  And she was right…for a while.  Mary Aplin rocked me senseless as a newborn, but then Pace climbed into the terrible two’s–making the tiny baby who couldn’t move and get into every cabinet in the house, suddenly seem like a breeze.  Then Mary Aplin was into everything and Pace was “older” and easy.  Then Pace went to school and had things like sight-words and math, so Mary Aplin was easy…  Lauren, unfortunately, has not been here in Dothan for Jay Paul, and I feel the need to tell her that one bit of her wisdom has now failed me.  Jay Paul has been my most difficult child every day of his life so far.  Nobody, including my newborn baby, has usurped him from that throne.


Jeremiah likes to tell me that I spoiled him more, but it is not the truth.  Jay Paul may have wrapped my heart up in his tiny little fist at birth, but I did not make him needy and unable to sleep.  Mae has reassured me of this fact.  I had started to doubt, since there is an (almost) 4 year gap between he and Mary Aplin, if I had done everything the same with him as I had with the girls?  Maybe I had gone soft?  But no.  Now that I have Mae, and I KNOW I’m doing the same things with her as I did with Baybus, I feel reassured that I am not to blame.  He was born a handful…and so loveable that you forgive him for it immediately.  Maddening!


Until Mae was born, Jay Paul lived on my hip.  As long as I was around, he didn’t want anything to do with anybody else.  It was exhausting.  Utterly exhausting for a woman hugely pregnant, but I consoled myself with the fact that we loved each other–he and I.  Then, Mae was born, and Jay Paul was forced to spend some significant time with other people.  Through this I saw that it was not so much me that he loved with undying affection, as he needed somebody to cling to.  After spending three or four days with Mama B, he will shoo me away and cling to her neck when I come to pick him up.  After a weekend spent with Daddy, he is all about trucks and “the shack” and pretends not to notice that I am alive.  And so, one by one he takes more people under his spell.  Because, you see, to be loved by Jay Paul may be exhausting but it is also exhilarating.


Right now, we are struggling with the fact that he wants to beat and hit on everything.  Constantly.  And it is all the better if he can use a long lever arm to beat with.  The broom is a particular favorite.  He grabs the broom and runs through the house, hitting walls, furniture, mirrors–anything that might make a new sounding BOOM when struck.  Unfortunately, his hitting does not exclude people, and he gets in trouble almost every time he goes to MMO for hitting and wrestling with the other children.  I have tried distracting him.  I have tried time outs.  I have tried spanking…and none of it seems to work.  The beating continues.


On the up side, Jay Paul loves My Mae–as he often calls her.  Adores her.  Thinks she is the most precious object in the house, and the only object for which he has tried to grasp the term “gentle”.  If he can reach her, he’s kissing her hands, her feet, her head.  He wants to hold her all the time, and if I prop her in his lap he will sit there with a dreamy grin on his face, still as a statue, until I take her off.  It doesn’t matter if she screams and squirms (and she usually does), he wants her right there.  Big brother may be even more protective of Mae Baby than Daddy.  The Lord be with her.


He’s My Boy–my one and only.  His hugs and kisses bring joy and happiness to my life like nothing else.  His “Dennis the Menace” qualities exhaust me but who would want a little boy to sit quietly and be good all the time?  We want boys to be boys…don’t we?  We just want to survive them.


8 Responses to “Jay Paul”

  1. Lindsay says:

    As I live and breathe, Abby Clark with a such a little boy! I can already picture you as his mother when he is a teenager- he will be breaking hearts like no other! Miss your sweet family greatly.

  2. mama b says:

    Jay Paul….what can I say!!!! I tell him he is MY baby!!! I may baby him for a long time!! I believe those words say it all:):) Sorry Abby!!:):):) But I will also allow him to continue growing into that boy who will ALWAYS think his mom is the most special girl in his life….until another special girl becomes his bride!!! Yes..all us moms want to keep those boys, no matter how busy they are with brooms and “fun” they can be…right with us, because there is nothing like the way they make us feel!!! BUT…it is pretty special when you see them love the perfect girl(wife) with all their hearts! The bond you and Jay Paul have now, and through the next 20 or so years will be a very special one, and that will bring you many blessings when you give him to her……. NOW….why did I grow Jay Paul up so fast in this comment section???? hahahaha….only you will understand that because you know me!!!! hehehe

  3. Kristy says:

    I have been a long time blog reader and first must thank you for always being so honest about the wonders and trials of raising a small family. I too have a little boy who is much like the one you are describing and there is such great comfort in knowing someone else feels and experiences what you do also. Thank you!

  4. natalie says:

    precious little snickers bar! jacob is at the exact same stage of neediness and bull-in-a-china-shop-ness. and he does NOT listen to no, spankings, or time out. let me know if you figure anything out 😉

  5. So glad you are blogging again. Aren’t little boys amazing little creatures. Jay Paul sounds like one of my own. Can you believe I have three of those little ninjas running around here? It is WILD. We shouldn’t have spent so much money on painting everything when renovating… you’d never know with all of the abuse this house has gone through since we moved in! xoxo.

  6. Erin says:

    I have a dummer too. I’ve always told people Parker is a handful. He’s not out right BAD, he’s just busy, and curious, and into EVERYTHING. BUT he also has that need love and effection for those close to him. He’s a lover! But if he loves ANYTHING it is “drumming”. Insane. He’s favortie drumming tool? His golf club… yea!

  7. Heather says:

    So happy to come by today and read Mae’s birth story, as well as a reintroduction to Pace, Mary Aplin and Jay Paul. I only have the two, but it always amazes me to see how completely different my girls are knowing that they came from the same parents.

  8. Heidi says:

    Jay Paul and Bryce….it may be a very good thing we don’t live closer. The only difference in them from what you wrote is Jay Paul adores My Mae. Bryce is tolerant of his little sister. He tries to cover her in a blankie, of course this includes her head all tucked in tight. 🙂 He pokes her eyes, buries her in toys and gentle lasts about 2.3 seconds.

    Hope you are doing well! We miss you guys up here

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