Following are highlights from our month on Instagram. Click here for pictures, thoughts and happenings from the entire month. If you’re on Instagram, follow me. If you already follow me, thank you!
My wife gets a load of emails and messages from people asking where our son’s father is, as though I couldn’t possibly be around and still allow a male son to display female behavior. To those people I say, I’m right here fathering my son. I want to love him, not change him. My son skipping and twirling in a dress isn’t a sign that a strong male figure is missing from his life; to me it’s a sign that a strong male figure is fully vested in his life and committed to protecting him and allowing him to grow into the person who he was created to be. I may be a “guy’s guy,” but that doesn’t mean that my son has to be. — Matt
What did I expect when I was pregnant and learned I was having another boy? More of the same. Life on repeat. A life of hand-me-downs — everything from clothes to toys to hobbies.
When CJ started showing us that he was differently gendered. I grew frustrated and scared. He wasn’t a card I expected to be dealt.
But, as Cheryl Strayed says, “you don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones your holding.”
I’m holding CJ. A child with special and unique needs because of his gender expression and gender identity. Because he is a boy who is a girl at heart. And, because of what the future could very well hold for him. And, you know what? I’m going to play the hell out of this fabulous, unexpected card I was dealt. I’m going to love him, support him, encourage him, build him up and let him soar. I’m going to hustle for him and kids like him.
Don’t sit at the table staring at what you think is a shitty hand, start rearranging those cards and making plans to play the hell out of them. It’s your obligation. Own it.
Me: What’s this?
CJ: The cover of the new comic book I’m writing.
Me: How and why does RuPaul save the day?
CJ: I’m not going to tell you yet. But, let’s just say it has something to do with Jinkx Monsoon, a couture gown and grape juice.
Her: We’re having a gender reveal!
Me: No, you’re having a genitalia reveal.
Parents-to-be CAN’T reveal their unborn baby’s gender. In general, gender is what’s in a person’s head that tells them that they’re male or female (or both or neither or some unique combination). A child’s concept of gender starts to develop around age three. So, a child’s third or fourth birthday would be a good time for parents to host a gender reveal.
Parents-to-be CAN reveal their unborn baby’s sex. In general, sex is what’s between a person’s legs that tells them they’re male or female. That’s what’s truly revealed at a gender reveal. The fetus’s sex. Its genitals. Its penis or vagina. (Or both if the baby is intersex.)
When I attend gender reveal parties and the parents-to-be yell “It’s a boy!,” I want to yell back “The baby has a penis!” When they shout, “It’s a girl!,” I want to shout “The baby has a vagina!”
It’s amazing how fast time moves when you’re watching kids grow. The human who made me a mother is 14 years old today. He asked for an electric guitar and spent the weekend as a production assistant on a music video set in Los Angeles. I’d never ask for him to stop growing — the alternative is my worst fear. I just wish I could slow things down a bit, get him to hug me a little longer and not be in such a damn hurry to be the amazing man he’s destined to be.
Shoe shopping with CJ is not fun. His feet are super narrow. One foot is half a size bigger than the other. He’s right smack-dab in the middle of little kids and big kids sizes. Oh, and sometimes he wants shoes from the girls’ section and sometimes he doesn’t. But the shoes in the boys’ section are “too serious” and “no fun.”
Our tried-and-true solution? Buy plain-ish shoes and customize them. We got shoes from Nordstrom Rack and added velvet shoelaces by Aldo (a different color for each shoe, of course). Then, we added silver star and lightening bolt sticker patches from The Trend bar.
Young CJ: I’m going to go dress up like a superhero.
Young CJ: Okay. I’m dressed. Now take a picture of how superhero I am.
I thought he’d never be a reader. It didn’t come easy to him. And, in first grade, his teacher taught him that there were “boys books” and “girls books.” Teachers, please don’t do that.
Then, when he started reading the Dork Diaries series, kids at school made fun of him for reading “girls’ books.”
Now, in fourth grade, he doesn’t care what people say about the books he chooses. Lately he’s been tearing through gymnast biographies. “People at school think I’m a lady anyway. So, they don’t care what I read.”
That time CJ discovered the “big eyes” art of Margaret Keane and was so inspired that he did his makeup to look like a big-eyed waif from one of her paintings.
When I was pregnant and people asked (all. the. time.) whether we were finding out the gender I started replying “Nope! We’ll find out the sex when it’s born and the gender when it’s 5.” A very entertaining range of reactions ensued from that one…
CJ, I also have really narrow feet and one foot is a half size bigger than the other! Solidarity. Shoe shopping is hard.
You’re playing the hell out of the cards you are holding, and that’s why I admire you and your family so much. You guys are rocking life, even when it’s scary and not convenient or what you expected. My very special son turned 14 six months ago, and having him flipped my life upside down in the very best ways. Very little about my life as a mom has been what I anticipated. It’s been a hundred times more challenging,and rewarding. Even though my son’s feet are moving into men’s 13’s, I don’t envy the shoe challenges you’re dealing with. Love the idea of customizing them!
Years ago when I found your blog it made a huge difference in our lives. Now I’m finding I have the same problem with parents revealing the “gender” of their babies. I’ve got a boy that wears “girls” clothes, but is definitely a boy, and my littlest still changes between boy and girl at will and loves to wear dresses, tutus, and things that sparkle. We’ve come a long way from the point where I thought it wasn’t okay to let kids be the way they want to be. I’m so glad there are people like you paving the way for kids like mine, and showing parents like me that it’s okay to let their kids be the people they are. Your family is such an inspiration.
Thank you for sharing your family’s journey with us! I have two girls, and although they’re still very young, having your example gives me the courage (for lack of a better word coming to mind in the moment) to parent them as individuals and not as girls.
Super fun! Thank you for sharing your wonderful family with us!
What Stephanie said! I’ve loved everything you put out there since the first time I read you and yours! Thank you!
I looked at the first picture and thought “WOW, I see where his hair came from” Loving on the laughter the photo shows
Ya gotta love that first shot – father & son having a happy (rather jovial, at that) moment.
The timing – impeccable. Who took the photograph? Mom? Big Bro? (My guess is Chase. This is professional quality stuff). Forty years from now, the image on that piece of paper will be priceless. The emotions it will draw from the viewer will be profound.
Hi Lori, I know just how you feel about them growing up. My youngest just graduated from high school this last Friday. On Mother’s Day I posted this song on my Facebook page and dedicated it to my girls.
Slow Down (Lyric Video)
By Nichole Nordeman
Look it up on YouTube and you will understand why I had all three of us crying our eyes out.
Updates on CJ are my jam, such a fun and creative kid. Love the comic and cute shoes especially! It would be pretty awesome if CJ was a guest judge on Ru Paul Drag Race, he would give theeeeee best feed back! I totally see it in his near future!! Have a great summer CJ:-)
Thanks for the brilliant update. I often wonder how you’re all getting on. From the moment I first read your blog you were in my heart. Love and hugs xx