I blinked those tired, hurried, worried blinks of a mom and suddenly I’m here. A mom with a nearly-18-year-old and a 14 year old. Yes. CJ is 14.
He’s 14 and he’s a beautiful, totally original, complex, deep feeling soul who I’m lucky enough to raise. How did Matt and I get so lucky? How did we get lucky enough to have a child who is different? A child who has opened our hearts and minds. A child who has taught us so many life lessons.
He has his own evolving style. He brings out laughter in me with ease. He cares for the people around him with a fierceness that makes him the best kind of friend.
He’s studying crystals and the power of things to heal the spots in people that feel broken.
He has a passion for designing and organizing spaces and has morphed into the family member who makes our house a home. He likes to merchandise things and create spaces and moments.
He’s an online shopper with full carts and complete looks in mind. He’s color-coded his closet so he can pull items with ease.
He likes boba and got me hooked on it and I apologize for previously calling it booger juice.
He looks forward to our nightly round of the game Five Crowns and usually wins. How does he draw a wild card every time?
He’s cultivated a friend group that is the absolute best bunch of teens you’ll ever meet. They start their own small businesses, they support each other wholeheartedly, they have heart-to-heart conversations, they laugh and sing so loudly on FaceTime that I’m sure everyone on our street can hear. They dream. They put plans in motion. They go to CJ for fashion and decorating advice. His camera roll is filled with photos that make my heart smile the biggest smile.
He can still be found everyday practicing makeup looks or nail art. And, as I work from home and he pops in to check on me, I never know just what face he’ll serve me…but it’s always better than mine.
Of the many complimentary services he offers, outfit (and hair and makeup) checks are the most valued by every member of our household and beyond. He also performs vibe checks but those are so honest and accurate that I must advise you think twice for requesting one.
A very honest opinion giver, he’s always willing to help you fix whatever is found unfavorable.
All that to say, CJ is a happy teenager.
When I hear about how the pandemic has devastated the lives and mental health of kids CJ’s age, I‘m acutely aware of how fortunate we are. We had to go through some really unhappy times so that CJ could be this happy during a lockdown.
Minus the seven months he spent at his new art school prior to COVID, school has never been a particularly safe place for CJ. He was bullied for being gender nonconforming and a member if the LGBTQ community. Home was always his safest place. So, to be told to stay home to stop the spread of COVID was asking CJ to be in his safe place. The place where he is loved and supported no matter what. The place where he can be his most authentic self.
I started this blog 10 years ago, just before CJ’s Disney-princess-themed fourth birthday party. Back then — with us all struggling with his gender identity and gender expression — we couldn’t imagine what 14 would look like. We couldn’t imagine how unique, authentic, colorful, beautiful and full it could be. Back then, we didn’t know how lucky we were.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CJ!!!
I just realized that CJ is 16 now. I hope the whole family is coping with the torrent of ugliness that the US is throwing at the LGBTQ+ community these days.
I loved to read this, “He’s cultivated a friend group that is the absolute best bunch of teens you’ll ever meet.”
HAPPY 15th to CJ! You will be driving too soon. Chase moving up on 20! WOW!
HAPPY EARLY 15TH BIRTHDAY CJ! AND ALSO, THE BIG 19 TO CHASE!
Happy birthday to both of the boys hope you all are doing well and are happy
Happy birthday CJ
I can pay you no bigger a compliment than to say that I wish I was in CJ’s skin. When I was a child, a LONG time ago, I had no opportunity – or encouragement – to be myself, and it still smarts all these years later. I have been able to find a place in the world (of which I’m glad), but so late in life, and so much of my life I can never recover. At least future generations have more to look forward to, which lifts my spirits; Happy Birthday CJ, and Best Wishes for your future!
I’m glad he’s doing well and that you all are safe during this pandemic. It’s always been uplifting to hear about CJ and how supportive his parents have been, and it’s great that he has a good group of friends
That’s so important for gender non-conforming children, because I know when I was a young boy (more than a decade ago) supportive people were very hard to come by. The only times that anyone besides my dad (who was always on my side, God rest his soul) was nice was when they thought I was a girl. I asked my dad to stop correcting them because people became hostile when they knew I was really a boy
Hopefully we’re entering an age when being a gender non-conforming boy becomes as accepted as a girl being a tomboy usually is. I know there are still plenty of haters out there, but people like CJ give me hope for the next generation
Happy birthday to CJ!! Can’t believe he is turning 14! He looks fabulous and so happy to hear that he is happy and thriving. Both your kids are so fortunate to have you and Matt as their parents!
Dear Laurie & Matt
I remember reading Raising My Rainbow, as if it was yesterday. You are both blessed to have two sons. I feel old but happy to have opened my mail and read that CJ I’d now 14 and Chase is almost 18.
So CJ, how tall you’ve grown, long legs and filled out into a fine teenager, Happy Birthday and I wish you many more. Looks like Dad has you lifting some weights, your shoulders and arms look strong. What’s stronger is your entire mind and self to have conquered all the battles you’ve faced and won. I am blessed myself to have bought the book, Mom wrote, and to see over the past 10 years how you’ve grown.
And last but not least, Chase, wow almost 18, how time flies. Next post that either Mom or CJ does, it would be awesome to have a photo of You and CJ together.
In closing, this post has indeed started my week off on a good note. Happy Birthday CJ, your looking great as always, God bless You and your Family.
Warmest regards to all,
Bon Fete! Buon Cumpelanos! Felice Anniversario a CJ!
Happy birthday!! Thank you so much for sharing his story and bringing it to light. More people need to hear about kids like CJ.
Happy 14th Birthday CJ. You and your family are truly fabulous! Thank you for letting us follow your journey. We have all learned and grown along with you. Enjoy!
Happy 14th to a FABULOUS young man! If only the world had more CJ’s in it — how wonderful would that be?
I have been following since your book came out. So happy CJ is happy and his true self!
You made this old sap get eye water. I’m grateful for the parents whom I know — & know of — who are present & awesome for their LGBTQAI+ & non-binary kids.
I know you’ll pass along the love & happy birthday wishes you’re getting for CJ. He’s obviously a fascinating, loving whirlwind. Thanks for sharing your lives.
Wow! I can’t believe he’s 14. I must have been following this blog for *years* — I was definitely still at school when I started (and now I’m 25). Happy birthday, CJ!
Happy Birthday CJ! Love your style!
Happy Birthday, CJ! I’m really glad you & your family have managed to thrive during the quarantine – stay safe & well, because we’re not out of the woods yet, not even close, and there are a lot of problems in the country that are really manifesting during this pandemic. I wish you a bright and glowing future, when we are finally on the other side of this crisis.
Happy Birthday 🥳 yep time does fly! I think a vibe check sounds interesting…
Beautiful to read. Congratulations to his wonderful parents, you are amazing people
Lori and Matt, I wish that you had been MY parents. I was in my sixties before I felt able to, finally, just be the person who had hidden inside me for so long. And CJ – Happy Birthday, and congratulations for always having the courage to be who you are, no matter what. I admire you tremendously!
I can’t believe 10 years has gone by so quickly. What a blessing to be a part of CJ’s and your family’s story! You’ve enriched more lives than you’ll ever know by sharing your journey. Thank you so much for letting us all in on this wonderful and loving experience. I hope the next 10 years are full of as much wonder and joy and love as the last 10!
Wishing CJ a very happy 14th birthday and much happiness always. Keep shining and keep being your most authentic self! Never let anyone, ANYONE, try to dim your light! You are beautiful, you are loved, not just by your parents but by all of us who’ve watched you become!
To CJs family,
Thank you for being so supportive and loving and for helping CJ to become the wonderful young teen! It’s heartwarming to know that more and more families are standing by their youth who are butterflies emerging. Having witnessed too many families who meant well but were terribly misguided and unable to love unconditionally, it’s been so uplifting to hear how you’ve helped CJ to rise up when others tried to push him down.
Best wishes for you all!
Happy birthday, CJ! What a beautiful soul you are! I love these pictures of you.
Happy 14th, CJ!!!
Thanks for update on CJ. So happy to hear he is doing well. We read Raising my Rainbow years ago in our book club and I was immediately concerned for his welfare. Love the updates.
Happy 14 CJ.
Happy Birthday CJ! Fourteen looks fabulous on you! Mom (and Dad), well done!! His future’s so bright I bet you’re all wearing shades.
I can hardly believe your blog has been going that long and that we’ve all had the pleasure and privilege to watch CJ become the stellar young adult he is. Thank you for sharing your journey and for sharing his story. It is invaluable.
Happy Birthday, CJ!!!!
Happy birthday CJ!!
Happy birthday CJ! I hope your birthday is full of cake, glitter, and laughter 🎂
merry merry happy happy b-day C.J.
i have been following you and your family for like the beginning and am soooo glad to hear that your still here and happy and have a supporting family.
and your brother is like 18 years old—WOW O WOW…. pretty soon your gonna be driving also.
enjoy and forever keep going forwards.
You have a beautiful child and you are doing a great job in raising CJ. I would like to suggest learning Reiki to go along with crystals. I am a Reiki master teacher and use Crystals for healing. Please feel free to contact me for more information on Reiki.
This post makes me so happy! Have been following from your first post and while I know there were unsettling moments for you all….I knew this would be right where you are. Love to all!!!
Happy Birthday to CJ! And thanks to your whole family for your loving example.
Happy solar return CJ. May your next trip around the sun be fabulous!
Happiest of birthdays, CJ! I started following your story after I read your wonderful book “Raising My Rainbow.” Our son is about 20 years older than CJ, and had just come out to us at the time I read your book. Today he and his wonderful husband are living their best lives in Chicago, full of friends and travels (before the pandemic). Our family and friends have been amazing throughout our journey, and I’m glad to see that you can say the same. I wish you much joy and happiness as you celebrate! 🎉🌈🎂🎁🎊
Way to go CJ and Mom and Dad, too! It has been so enlightening and enjoyable to follow for these 10 years. Yes, where does the time go? Here’s to many more!
Happy Birthday, CJ! Every so often, lately, I’ve been wondering about how your life is going. I’ve been following your story since your mom started her blog many years ago. Fourteen already! You look great, and you look happy! I’m so glad for you.
Such an amazing and inspiring story I am blessed each and every time I hear about CJs life and journey.
Happy birthday CJ always be yourself you are amazing.
Happy Birthday CJ — you and your family are truly amazing! thank you for allowing us to learn from you.
all this awesomeness, And he has such beautiful non-teenagey skin! happy birthday to CJ!
Happpppppiest of birthdays. 🌈
Happy birthday CJ!
Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been following you for 10 years, since right after the birthday party. It’s so wonderful to see CJ so grown and beautiful! Gay kids are like unicorns. If you love and protect them the right way, they will indeed bring magic and color into your life. He has obviously brought that to your’s and Matt’s (because you two loved and protected him the right way!) Thank you for modeling how to raise a unicorn for their parents out there. I remember you said you started this blog because you didn’t know anyone else in your situation. Well you’ve made sure no other parent has to feel that way! Thank you and love to all of you! – Matt
Happiest of birthdays, CJ!! I have so enjoyed watching you grow. You and your whole family are an inspiration to the rest of us. I hope you have a fabulous year!
Shine on kiddo!!
Happiest 14th Birthday, CJ! You are a beautiful soul!
Happy Birthday, CJ! You are an amazing Joyful teenager with so much going for you. You are an inspiration to so many! I wish you all the best!
Happy Birthday, CJ and Happy Blogiversary to Raising My Rainbow!
I am trying to figure out where I sign up for fashion, makeup, hair and life advice from C.J. I have read your blog from the beginning and feel like I know CJ and your family. I love that CJ sounds this happy at a difficult birthday for anyone. Brenda
Happy birthday, CJ! You look so happy and comfortable and beautiful. You’re an amazing kid and I wish you a wonderful year.