Lori Duron is the author of Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son (Random House, September 2013). The first parenting memoir to chronicle the journey of raising a gender nonconforming child, the book is based on her blog of the same name.
RaisingMyRainbow.com has more than one million readers in 173 countries, including gender studies students and faculty at more than 50 college and universities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
Duron and her blog have twice been named one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year; one of Ignite Social Media’s “100 Women Bloggers You Should be Reading;” one of Circle of Moms “Top 25 SoCal Moms;” and one of Parents Magazine’s blogs that are “Most Likely To…Change The World.”
Duron is an often-quoted source on parenting gender creative, gender nonconforming, protogay and prehomosexual children. Media interest and coverage includes: Anderson Cooper, The BBC, The Orange County Register, KFI 640 AM, CBS – Los Angeles, MSNBC, Queerty.com, Feast of Fun, The New York Times, One4All Magazine, The Next Family, Bitch Magazine, Newsweek, BlogHer, The Mother Company, OC Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Babble, Jezebel and Amanda de Cadanet.
Duron lives with her husband and two children in a happy, messy home in Orange County.
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Sometimes we terrible people to make us aware of all that is good. I had not heard of your family until that awful tweet. Thank you NPH for making me aware of you and your family. I ordered your book and look forward to amazon delivering it. As an old queen who has lived through a lot, I wish we all could have such wonderful and supporting parents. Keep doing what you are doing. Two wonderful lines by Robert Hunter that inspire me everyday. “Sometimes we live no particular way but our own” and “Let your life proceed by it’s own design” (Robert Hunter)
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What a great looking family! Just heard about you folks and I plan to buy your book.
So glad it was Orange County where you folks marched; the people there need to see such diversity more than any other county in the country.
How happy all three of you look is the perfect answer to ALL of the naysayers. Your son is so lucky to have you 2 as parents and to be growing up now.
I am going to be 67 in a month and it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I felt I could show the world my genuine self. And at that I’m often asking myself what’s going to work best where and when.
Thanks to people like you in 10-20 years the only remaining question will be, “What were we thinking to make ANY fuss about this?”
Stay strong … and happy.
I’m in love with your blog and I seriously can’t stop reading.
Keep spreading your colorful happiness everywhere you go C.J.!
I’m so glad I’ve found your blog! It’s great and I’ here to stay.
I love it! My two year old son loves pink, loves to pretend to put on makeup, and loves to play dress up. I’ve been told to “nip in the bud or else he’ll turn gay.” I do my best to either ignore those people or cut them from my life. No matter who my son grows up to love, I know he’ll be a great person. And for now he’s a great little boy who rocks pink cowgirl boots.
Bravo. You have won over a new follower.
Hi there. I’m trans male, and was kicked out of my house at twenty when I finally worked up the guts to transition. Reading about such an accepting and affirming family is making me tear up a bit. Thanks for sharing your story.
God bless you, Lane! Praying for the day when trans and homosexual rights catch up to the rights of women and African Americans. You are special and courageous, God speed.
It’s awesome to read this. I’m an adult male,l and always felt awkward as I like more traditionally female things, but still identify as a heterosexual male. I felt I could never really express it when I was younger as it wasn’t accepted, but I always liked playing with dolls more then sports. Lately I’ve started to embrace this more and wear skirts and paint my nails. I do get weird glances from people sometimes, but others have been very complentary and I feel better being more true to myself. Good for you in encouraging your children to be who they are inside.
I’m a 20 year old transwoman, recently having started my transition a few months ago. Your blog brought tears to my eyes, I saw the article about one of your children asking questions about dating a transgender person. And your reply was beautiful. I lost a great love in January for his parents not approving of my gender/sex, so it really moved me, I hope that more parents will begin to raise their children to love and accept people.
Hi, my name is Debbie. Im the mother of a recently transitioned soon to be 9 year old daughter who is very lonely. She wants to try and find a friend who is like her. Could you point me in the direction of a Philadelphia support or play group with other transgender children? Thank you
Hi Debbie. I hope that you have already found folks to connect with, since your comment is a year old. Have you ever gone to the Philly Trans Health Conference? It is free, and there is a huge number of families with trans kids who attend. You might also find some resources through PFLAG Philly: http://www.pflagphila.org/
Just came across your blog earlier this year and am finally commenting after lurking for months. I am so impressed with your family! CJ is amazing – how else do you describe anyone who knows what they want and pursues it? That’s hard for grown-ups, much less a child. May he always keep his sense of self. Your support and love is invaluable and an inspiration to all parents. Thank you.
This is very interesting! I live in a very conservative area and there is a relatively large, private Christian university here. The university has had a lot of controversy over gay Christians and even transgender Christians at the school. They are welcome there, but housing placement has been confusing. There are male only and female only dorms and apartments–where should the transgender students go? The university wanted to put the transgender students in their own apartments. What do you think? A student attempted a lawsuit but the University claimed religious beliefs and won. It’s not like they weren’t allowing the student to go to the university, they just didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. How do people who are straight supposed to feel about someone like this? Sorry for the rambling but this is a very interesting topic to me. I am accepting but it is still confusing!
Kids know who they are. We just need to have the sense to let them be. Good for you.
It’s such a blessing to find this blog and not feel alone anymore! I have the sweetest 5 year old dress loving son who feels his best when wearing long locks, even if it’s a blanket on his head I have tied in the back so he can pretend to have long hair. He started Kindergarten this year and I can see him guarding himself when with his peers. He keeps so much of who he is at home where he feels the most comfortable. I see his little mind trying to process why he’s different and try to field his questions the best I can. He comes from a home of acceptance and love. We let him be who he is and like what he likes. That is the motto in our house..Everyone is aloud to like what they like and be who they are and there’s nothing wrong with them.
He also has an older brother (9) who struggles with all of this. He’s a sports loving “boys boy” and questions why they are different. I’ve had some proud mom moments overhearing him stick up for his brother when friends are over and questioning why his little brother plays with “girl toys” and wears dresses.
Thank you for writing this blog! I am excited to follow you and read your book. I hope it can help me be the best mom for my son.
I have a “boy-stuff” liking boy, 6 and a pink boy who’s 4 right now and I’ve been following this blog since he was 2. He identifies as a boy who just likes “girl” things too. He takes ballet, is growing his hair out long, has a pair of sparkly rainbow hi-tops and sleeps with his Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy dolls every night. My husband and I have totally supported who he is though sometimes it’s a private struggle for my husband.
What I sometimes struggle with is when he goes through his periods of rejecting the sparkly fabulousness he usually embodies. It comes in spits and spats and I am 100% supportive whenever he does it but inside I’m full of questions. Right now he’s not picked on for who he is, most kids are supportive of him (it’s the adults that come out with negative comments). What I’m afraid of is that he’ll stop showing the world his authentic self to try and fit in with everyone else.
How do you handle this with CJ? I’d love some tips!
Nominating you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award. 🙂
I am entirely accepting of homosexual and transgender individuals; three of my best friends are gay, and I fully support sites like this one which aim to stop hatred and prejudice. I’m really not looking to offend anyone here, I’m just a bit confused and could do with some clarification.
What I’m struggling to understand is how an individual can be fully aware of their gender identity before reaching puberty; I know I never gave it much thought as a kid, I was just *me*. It was only after I’d started my period, bought a bra etc. that I really started to feel like a woman, and settled fully into that identity. Being attracted to boys was just a natural progression from that. Can anyone explain how a kid as young as, say, three, can become aware of their gender identity like that, at such an early age?
I’m really interested in learning more about this topic, and would really appreciate any clarification on this. Thanks. 🙂
Hi Lacey! I took a great class in college that allowed me to explore the possibilities of human identity. This is how I’ve come to understand the spectrum:
The first thing I would say is we must be conscious of NOT sexualizing children. There are various identity categories, including but not limited to Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. In the most simple terms: Sex – biologically/scientifically what body you’re born into (male/female), Gender – the masculine/feminine binary (may be or may not be linked, in the social construct, to Sex), Sexuality – heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual – how you express sexual attraction.
The Gay Rights Movement, in one sense, is fighting to break the expectations that any of the aforementioned identities must line up (ex. male, masculine, heterosexual.) In terms of gender identity before puberty, we are not making the claim that a child knows who they want to go to bed with. It is rather the understanding that a child as young as 3 or 4, has a sense of who they are and how that might manifest itself.
I would assume (if I’m wrong, I apologize) that when you were 4, you knew were a “girl” a “she” a “female” — and that if your parents had called you “boy” and “he” and “male” it wouldn’t have felt right. It didn’t mean that you were compelled to explore anything sexually with another person. It meant you had a handle on your gender identity.
However, when I think back to my K-5th grade days, I definitely developed crushes on boys, and later felt a special magnetism to a couple female camp counselors. As it turns out today, I identify as bisexual. But in my youth, it wasn’t sexual attraction drawing me to them. It was rather a social/emotional connection that drew me.
It’s something you wouldn’t expect a kid to be aware of, unless they had a need to be aware of it, if that makes sense. In a way, I went through what C.J. is going through, but in a much more quiet fashion. I loved playing with girl toys. I’d wrap a towel around my head longways and pretend it was hair. A vast, vast majority of my friends all throughout my life have been girls. I think there are a few reasons why my experience is so different than his is that where Lori is supportive, my parents weren’t; they were either dead silent about it or simply said “no, you can’t buy that, that’s for girls”, or whatever.
I was aware of it, but I didn’t understand it. And I wasn’t the type of kid to speak up about it, I was very reserved, very shy, and very sensitive to criticism. And because I never made many waves, my parents didn’t have to face it, and in return, I didn’t know how much of a potential big deal it was. I didn’t know there was the option to explore gender and myself. I silently liked the things I liked and it wasn’t until much later that I had to find it out on my own. C.J. made his desires known, Lori reacted (and she did so in a way that my inner child is so jealous of, seriously Lori, you are a hero), and it opened so many doors for him.
So I guess to sum this all up, kids know. They may not always have the opportunity to own up to it, but at their very core, they know who they are. Sometimes, like in my case, it sits dormant because the child decides to be quiet about it. And sometimes, like in C.J.’s, they’re so vibrant about it that the world has to respond, and at an early age, they learn and adapt to (and combat) society’s ideas of gender.
Because you fit the norm it was easy for you to be who you are. There were no questions for you to answer. For those of us who don’t fot into the gender binary we’re constantly forced to how ourselves, “How do I fit in and still stay true to myself?”, “Why am I so different?” And even, “Am I crazy? Or is it the rest of the world?”
Especially when confronted by haters like James Woods.
You never faced any of that so what was there for you to think about? Those of us who don’t fit the gender binary straight-jacket have to face those questions ALL of the time so such children have to figure out theit gender identity early in life.
It’s kind of like the difference between growing up white and or some other race on our country that likes to think it values individuality.
So happy to have stumbled upon your blog. I am lucky to live in a town that is open and accepting of everyone. We are unique in so many ways. As a teacher in the same town, I am fortunate to know children from all sorts of families and I love that I am raising my own children to be non-judgmental and accepting of everyone. Thank you for your lovely blog. http://aprojectforkindness.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/love-is-love/
Love your honestly and transparency! Love how you are supporting mothers everywhere through your story.
Thank you Lori. We are beginning our journey with our 5 year old daughter who is gender nonconforming. We live in Northern California. I’m currently reading your book (am on chapter 15) and so appreciate you sharing your family’s experience.
Lori, You are my hero. Oh how I wish I had parents like you.
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I loved reading your post about C.J.’s 7th birthday. I think it is great of you to share your stories and help others become more accepting through reading your work. It also helps other people who feel alone or like they are not accepted. I wish the whole world could be accepting of everyone’s differences.
Your blog/story is beyond inspirational for me. I started one of my own (www.pinkismyfavourite.blogspot.com) I was so inspired to share the unconditional love I have for my little guy.
Thank you (I’m beyond words) for your inspiration and hope!
I just finished reading your book. The tears are still there. I am the Nana of a gender nonconforming boy and the Mother of a gay son. I would walk through fire for either of my sons, and my Grandson as well, but I was never strong or smart enough to do what you have done. You are an amazing Mother, and I am so grateful for your book, your honesty, your intellect and the good fortune you had to have found the wonderful resources to help you. I am ready to be a better advocate for LGBTQ community. Thank you ever so much. My whole family will read your book.
I just finished reading your husbands article “My son wears dresses; get over it” and through that found your blog. I wanted to say thank you, thank you both for being loving parents to what sounds like a really wonderful and well adjusted child. C.J. sounds like a lot of fun and like he keeps you on your toes, Your post about going to the homecoming game just about made me spit coffee at my screen. I wanted to say a special thank you to your husband I was very moved by the line in his article “Because, if my son liked boy stuff and dressed like a boy, he wouldn’t be my boy, he’d be like a stranger.” More parents and people need to realize or be be reminded of this, no matter what makes your child special and unique without it they wouldn’t be the person they are. Thank you for sharing your journey in raising your rainbow, it is a privilege to be allowed a window into your world. Tell C.J. that I think his backpack is fabulous.
Lori, I’m just starting to read the blog after finishing the book. We are walking down the same path right now. My son started 1st grade at the end of August and he is really feeling the peer pressure and backing down on being himself at school. I am supporting him in whatever works for him, but it does break my heart that he is now more worried about what “others” think. He’s only human!
I have felt so lost the last year of my sons life. His stepfather is not accepting one bit and I just didn’t know what to do. Do I encourage it, do I accept it or just plain out say no. When my mother showed me this blog I had goosebumps as I read it. It was as if she was talking about my son. It was a relief of my shoulders to know I wasn’t the only mother going through this. I’m a younge mom and feel lost as it is sometimes with my parenting so to have a son who wants to dress like a girl play with barbies and etc. I was a little terrified. I love how as you both co parent you are both on the same page. I wish my boyfriend wasn’t like the rest of society
Liz, I am so sorry you don’t have the support of your partner. That itself makes me sad because I know how hard it is. My son, who s now 7, started playing with Barbies at age 3 and asked why God made him a boy. We too thought it was a phase he would outgrow but it hasn’t. My husband didn’t accept it and was of no support until recently he has now come around. I literally cried so hard one night that I could barely breathe. I was overwhelmed with fear for my son and his future and how ppl could possibly hurt him emotionally and physically. I think this opened his eyes and I told him that our son would grow up with resentment towards him. I just had to reach out to you and let you I understand what your going through and you have a friend here… Xoxo
Liz, it sounds like it’s time for you to ask yourself, “Who is my important to you, your son or your boyfriend?”
If that proves to be a tough one try this, “What do I owe my boyfriend? And what do I owe my son?” If you’re tempted to say, “Yah, but …” Look at Lori, she found a man who can accept her son as he is.
Lori, check out this link. A transgender boy, aged seven, has gone on national tv in AUstralia to tell the nation that it’s okay to be born a boy and want to be a girl. http://www.sbs.com.au/insight/episode/overview/573/Transgender#.UjkczT_AEhk
Lori — thank you for bringing this to the public discourse.
Lori and readers — anyone interested in setting up gender creative play groups. I live in Chicago — let me know!
I’d be willing to drive two hours for gender creative play group!! I live in the central, IL area. Anyone else closer to me, feel free to contact me!
Hi there mom from central IL,
I wanted to let you know that I found a playgroup that is taking place on Sunday, October 6th in a Chicago western suburb. I have never been to this playgroup but I am very excited because its made up of families of gender non-conforming kids. The parents meet while the kids play. Here is the link: http://www.meetup.com/Pinwheels/
Hope to meet you!
I just want to say…. I think you Have just Opened A big Can of Worms on this Trans Gender thing with your Son..
What I mean by this Opening this Can is… I Think You Guys Are Sooooo Awesome to do this for your son , and as True Parents who Loves and Cares and Support their Child , Letting Him /her Be Himself/herself is Being a Great Parent. You are thinking about Him and Not yourself.
I have always Firmly Believed that any Boys or Girls growing up should choose what they wish to play with and Dress Like and be supported in doing so . you are breaking this chain by going public and educating all these parents who try to control what their son/daughters … wear/play with/and act .
Never thinking of the Child’s Feelings, it’s always been about themselves as Parents!!
** You Have My Deepest Love and Support , What A Great Role Model you Guys are for your
Son/s and Also for Other Parents Around the world who have Children who are Trans Gender . Education is the Key , and Taking this Public is the best way to break this Gender Gap Chain.
Remember it’s …. ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN AND NOT THE PARENT !!
Let them be who they are , they are the better judge of who they are…
thanks, It’s so awesome to finally have Parents who care about their child and not themselves !!
Just watched you on TV. God bless you and best wishes as you raise your children. I wish you guys would do genetic testing for CJ. Even since I learned about people who underwent testing because, as in the case of a woman who was told she couldn’t be the mother of her children, they seemed to be genetically somebody different than they appeared to be, I have been wondering if gender-confusion is possibly the case of embryo fusion or some other early on abnormality, shall we call it. (The thing with such testing is that cells from various parts of the body need to be tested because the genetic material is different in different parts of the body but which is which cannot be determined in any obvious way.)
Hi C.J. Mom!
Thank you so much for your Blog! I do love to read it!
Not too sure what to say, but youe blog caught my attention because it reminds me of my sister-in-law and nephew. My nephew was recently diagnose with an Emotional Behaviorial Disorder in which I do not agree with, special education paraprofessional of 9 years! But I am not a license person, so what do I know.
My beautiful 6 year old nephew is very unique he too like to play with Barbies and dress up it could be because of his mother’s at home daycare of mostly young girls. In fact he does have other interests like hanging out with his grandmother and his favorite cousins, again mostly girls.
I will recommend your blod to my sister-in-law the next time I see her. And I will be following your wonderful and insightful blog. Have an awesome day.
Hi CJs’ Mom.
Pleased to meet you. :).
My name is Kevin Gillespie, I do, MUCH prefer being called Kev though. :).
I live in Wales, & am now Following your Blog. :).
Best Wishes. 🙂
I know you get TONS of fans, and I’m a huge one as well. I was just nominated for the Leibster Award, and part of the rules is to nominate other bloggers that you find inspiring. I wanted to nominate you (or even CJ)! You can go to my page and check out the rules if you would like to participate. Keep Blogging – you’re family an inspiration to all of us who want the new “modern family”!
I love your words of kindness, encouragement, and truth. I am a studier of children, an educator, and supporter of each individual’s spirit. I went to an awesome college that developed the anti-bias curriculum. Even so, I encountered so many fellow students who while not unkind. lacked true compassion and understanding. I have known a young boy who at age 4 had to learn about grown-ups ideas on gender specifics and I have spent a day with a 9 year old young lady who I later discovered was a boy and I was so glad I did not know so that I could treat her as she was. You might already know this story but if you don’t, look up X by Lois Gould. It is a favorite one of my professors shared. Here is a link just in case, not spam, I promise!
I just awarded your blog the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:
In the wee hours of the morning, I read a short story that you might enjoy. Unable to sleep last night, I downloaded an on-sale book on my Kindle & started reading it. It is a novel in the form of interwoven short stories, and it was written by, of all people, Molly Ringwald. The book is called When It Happens to You; the short story My Olivia. Seems pretty real to me though somewhat sparse. You should check it out.
Good news, I’m giving you the “BEST MOMENT AWARD“.
Check back here: http://myfamilybliss.com/2013/03/13/whats-up-wednesday-weve-been-awarded-again/
Congratulations and enjoy the rest of the day!
I guess I should say that I nominated you for ‘The Very Inspiring Blogger Award’. Check it out if you want but if you wanna pass I will not be insulted. http://animockery.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/824/
hey .. I nominated you and your blog 🙂 check it out http://myfamilybliss.com/2013/02/13/yay-i-have-been-nominated/
I just found your blog (3 years late). I feel like we’re living parallel lives (only I am on the east coast. You are helping me figure things out and making me stronger. Thank you so much.
Go C.J.’s mom! Lady, you rock so hard, and inspire me to be a better parent. 🙂
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I’d like to reiterate my comments on the blog post about your son’s Christmas Dress. You and your husband are a powerful joy in this world. Be proud, and stay strong.
We’re here for you.
Your blog inspired me to start a blog of my own. And I’m in love with it and your entire family, especially CJ (in a very non creepy way :P). I’ve nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World bloggers award. here’s the link: http://allthosesmallthings.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/feels-like-an-oscar-nomination/
I love C.J. and his courage. I nominated him and your blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I am totally in his corner and want him to know it. Just hit up my blog with the newest post, right click and save the image, then upload it to your blog. You’ll see the instructions on what to do in my post.
Please allow my honest response to finding, and reading your blog. I am not a doctor, or theologian, or sociologist, or lettered in anything for that matter. I am just a dad with 5 daughters and 1 son, and I have no idea how to comprehend the ideas of gender neutrality, or gender nonconformity. My stomach literally hurt as I read your latest post. I do not intend to criticize, or condemn you, but I have yet to come to accept the idea that gender is, for lack of a better description, optional. Yes, I come from a very mid-western, conservative background, but I don’t know much about corn or soybeans either. Thanks for allowing my query.
John, Gender is not optional. Gender is four components–sexual parts (sex), gender identity (how one feels inside), gender expression (how one expresses their gender), and attraction. And it’s not binary, ie, not male/female, but can run along a line, like 10-1. Go to http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/03/the-genderbread-person-v2-0/ to see this idea. CJ is exploring his gender, and it’s absolutely amazing he has a family that allows him to explore without bias.
I find you and you son inspiring I live in MA where the non-conforming are somewhat more accepted and should your son be transgendered boston childrens has a wonderful program. I hope he learns to love himself.
I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Please visit http://wp.me/p1jxzE-6u to review my post.
Gruesse aus Graz! I’d like to nominate you for the Liebster Blog Award! You’ll have to follow me back to my blog to pick up the questions that go with the nomination, but congratulations on being one of my (and doubtless many others) favorite reads! I always enjoy reading your latest posts.
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I’m sure you have too many followers but I nominated you anyway for this Liebster Award.
I think you’re an awesome mom!
I won’t throw stones, but I always thought I encouraged my sons to be sons and would never encourage transgender behavior. This being said, I never encouraged sports and aggressive type things. I let one of my sons put on makeup because he wanted to when he was young and wear girl’s jewelry and never thought anything of it. Both of my sons have long pony tails, which is not that unusual in the native american culture, but are married to women. My other son was always mistaken for a girl and was in ballet for years, so as much as I think I let them be boys, I guess they really were quite free to experiment in whatever they felt like. I am a more masculine woman, so is my sister and my mother, but we grew up around alot of males. I guess I don’t really believe in stereotypes but think I do.
I think if a boy wants to dress like a girl it’s perfectly natural to let them do so as we don’t need to be determined by society how we should dress and behave. A lot of people need to open their minds up.
What I don’t understand is the use of the term nonconforming to gender. To me, nonconforming would be letting a child, boy or girl, dress how they want whether one day it’s girl clothes, one day boys, and some days a mix of both. I guess I’m relating nonconformity to being genderless.
Even if he is technically a boy, it’s still conforming to a gender if everything he wears and has is girly.
I hope he grows up prepared that he is going to be picked on, laughed at and outed and can rise above it as growing up with people constantly picking on you is emotionally damaging. Sadly it’s much easier as an adult to be a nonconformist because you really are more aware of who you are and your beliefs and have a stronger stance about yourself. Kids are fragile as they are growing up and discovering who they are.
Just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful blog. As the proud mom of a beautiful dress wearing, pink loving ponytailed little 8 year old boi it is wonderful to know we are not alone in this world!
Oh and halloween here is going to be a blast. The lil one is going to be CeCe from Shake It Up Chicago a Disney show!
You have been awarded the Beautiful Blogger award for being so inspiring.
Hope you have a lovely day
Thank you so much for creating this blog. I have a four-year-old son who has loved all that is pink and sparkly since he was two. Recently, his desire to be a princess has become persistent enough that my husband and I have had to defend our choice to let him express himself from friends and family. We’re blessed with many extremely supportive people in our lives, as well as being “blessed” with just as many who feel the need to tell us exactly how they think we’re damaging him by letting him be himself. It’s encouraging to come here and see that we’re far from the only parents dealing with a unique child. Thank you.
Wonderful, compassionate parenting. An example for all. Thank you.
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Hello, I just wanted to let you know how much I love reading about your family. I just encountered this short article and immediately thought of CJ.
I love your blog and have nominated you for a blog award. You can check out the details on my site if you’d like, but if not, just know you are a great mother and writer and I look forward to your posts each week. 🙂 http://sweetersideoflife.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/and-the-award-goes-to/
I just discovered your blog thanks to Sarah over at Nerdy Apple & wanted to thank you for sharing your family’s story! My niece struggled with her identity during her adolescence…some of the kids who thought her tomboyishness at 7 was cool, called her nasty names when she decided to get a buzz cut at 12. Things got worse before they got better…no matter what you see & how supportive you are, teens never think parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents know anything. She came out during her senior year of high school & is happy to have found herself & a great support in the LGTBQ community, as well as her family. So thank you! I can’t wait to read about more of C.J.’s adventures!
Hi, I nominated you for the One Lovely Blogger Award. Please, check it out on my blog. The link is below. I love reading about your adventures. Keep it up!
I am truly awed by your openness and commitment to your children. I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. If you would like to participate, you can find the details here http://authenticallyannamarie.wordpress.com/
You are just so awesome. I’m sort of cynic, without a lot of sincere hope for the world. That makes me sad all the time. But you. You are truly wonderful and actually give me hope that parents can be good people and raise their children to be HAPPY! What a concept.
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Hey C.J.’s Mom, I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! http://onehappytable.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/one-lovely-bog-awardthank-you-linsday-is-vegan/
I nominated your blog for The Very Inspiring Blogger award! Please take a look at http://www.peacewithmylife.com and respond in accordance with the award rules. You need to list 10 facts about yourself and “nominate” another 15-20 blogs. It is a great way for the blogging community to get to know each other and for me to say how much I enjoy your blog!
Hello!!! I just wanted to let you know I have nominated you for the VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD!!! Your blog is one of my most favorite blogs and I look forward to reading new posts whenever they pop up in my email.
Oops! I posted the wrong link.
Hi CJ’s Mom:
I’ve nominated you for The Versatile Blogger award, because your blog has touched me and I enjoy following your writings and I would like more people to see what a great parent you are. You need not accept the award (especially since I now see that you’ve been nominated for it before), but if you choose to do so, then see here for more details on how I did it and how you can “officially” do it. http://thestillspot.wordpress.com/honours/
Guess who’s awesome? The answer is you. http://coffeepoweredmom.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/very-inspiring-blogger-award/ thanks for reminding me to love my kids, no matter what.
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Now you got an avid reader here from ..Philippines 🙂
I found your blog through a link on my newsfeed on Facebook and I’ve got to say, I wish I had parents like you! You’ve got yourself another reader (even though I’m horrible about replying lol). I’m looking forward to reading more about you and your wonderful son’s life!
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you just got a brand new reader from Portugal. xoxo
Hi, I wrote a one-man show about a gay latino man and his experience growing up gay in Venezuela, his relationship with his mother over the years and his hope for a better world for gay kids, and I mention your blog. Thank you so much we need more mothers to transform this world.
My show is named “You Are Confused!” and I’ll be performing in March 15, 16 and 17 at Atlantic Stage 2 in NYC. Check the page of the show when you have a chance: http://www.facebook.com/events/299503966777064/
I have just awarded you the ‘Kreative Blogger’ award because I think your blog is great please see http://kerrydwyer.net/2012/03/02/kreativ-blogger-award/
Hey! I just discovered your blog and I just loved it. I`m a man and I still don`t have a child. But I`m pretty sure when God blesses me, no matter what he thinks, or how he acts, I will love my kid just as you love yours.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, thoughts and ideas. Be sure that many, many, many parents from around the globe are now better before reading your writings. Thanks again for doing this.
I don’t remember if I ever commented on your blog before, but I just wanted to say I discovered you when you were Freshly Pressed and I was so impressed I actually went and read through your entire archives in one evening. You are an extremely admirable, lovely and amazing woman and mother. Your husband and C.J’s Brother both receive major kudos from me as well. I’m not a mom and am not even married, and may not be for a while yet. But you’re someone I find inspirational and awesome, and just thought I’d share that with you.
I don’t have kids (by choice), and don’t care one way or another about gender preferences, sexuality leanings, etc.
I do like to read about people who are, in my opinion, amazing and interesting. Thanks.
I’ve given you a blog award. If you’d like to participate, see rules at: http://hearttoharp.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/wow-my-first-blog-awards/
I wanted to spend some time reading through your blog after I came across it when it was Freshly Pressed, because it struck such a chord with our own experience. As I said in my previous comment, our eldest son (now in his twenties) was very in to dressing up as a woman, and other feminine things, from a very early age.
We never really thought about any link between this and his sexuality. It seems odd to say that, but it’s true, and it wasn’t because we were trying to avoid anything, It was just how he was.
He came out to us when he was 13. We weren’t really prepared for it, but quickly came to terms with it. There is no doubt that his teenage years were hard at times. He was bullied and had to change schools, and this still leaves scars on him (and to a much lesser extent on us). But I would say that in the UK being gay is easier now than it used to be. Many teenagers seem to go through a remarkable transition from extreme hostility to the very notion of being gay early on in their teens to complete acceptance just a couple of years later. I would like to think that the love and stability we gave our son at home helped him ride out those tough years.
I completely agree with the sentiments in your post about not wanting either of your sons to be gay. Nobody would choose a harder life for their children. But I would also agree very strongly with the thoughts of the “It Gets Better” movement. For our son, it has. Much better.
I can also sympathise with your thoughts about Christianity. My wife is a committed Christian. I’m not, but attend church with her sometimes and agree with many of the values. Reconciling the sometimes very disappointing (or indeed, much worse) attitude of many Christians, and the organised church in particular, to gender and sexuality issues, and her love for her son, has been hard for my wife. It seems so strange that a movement based so much on love can sometimes show so little.
I think the approach you are taking with your son is entirely right, and if there are tough times ahead, I am sure your love and deep thoughtfulness will be equipping you all to face them as well as anything could.
This is a wonderful blog and I wish you well.
PS – hope I haven’t posted this three times – bit of trouble with the WordPress account!
Good morning! I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. If you would like to participate, you can go here to see the rules. http://storieswritingadventure.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/ive-won-versatile-blogger-award/
(PS – I’ve enjoyed your blog and been following ‘from a distance’ for ages now. It was the Dancer post that got me hooked. Well done on making it Freshly pressed!)
Hey so much to say…. You make me cry the first time I read you…. And you make me laugh so many times after, love your sense of humor! And I admired your amazing courage for all the little big things you have to do every single day,cheers for you and thank you for shearing your amazing journey, I’m a lesbian with the best mom and brothers on earth. I’m lucky. But not many out there that have the same luck, and you have helping them….I wish you the best for you and your family, peace in your life and lots of love
Thanks again for bring hope for a better world I’ll be sheering your blogs…
You have probably been asked this before, but I am going to ask it again: What happens if your son one day drops the tutu and wants boys stuff? A family down the road from where I live had a son very much like yours. He was going to be a dress designer (Nothing wrong with that, I might add). But one day he asked his mother for a train set and a boys bike. He lost the whole gender non-conformity thing on his own and took more of an interest in typical male stuff (Nothing wrong with that either). Mother lost all interest in him after that. There was no point to “raising a rainbow” any more.
One got the idea that mother was more excited about having a gender non-conforming child than the kid was himself about the whole thing. It gave her a sense of being different, of being the cool mother on the block, with the strange child. So she pushed the idea that he may “possibly” be gay, that he was different.
In other words, having a non-gender conforming child was all about her and not the kid.
That said, I do think you are a very brave and bold mother!
Interesting comment; it’s nice to hear things from both perspectives. Thanks for writing. 🙂
This site is so great! Is your son transsexual? Later in his life he might want to transition into being a woman but im sure your very aware of it. I recommend Laura’s Playground (A website for parents of Transsexual or CD children.
If only every queer child growing up could have you as a mother…
You’re an amazing person. Keep on doing what you do. Thanks for the inspiring and empowering writing. 🙂
This is beautiful. I admire strong women like yourself and would like to congratulate you on FresslyPressed and best of luck raising your lovely son.
Aww, I would get along so well with him! I love barbie, strawberry shortcake and disney princesses! (and I’m 22 *sigh*)- maybe I’m age non-conforming! 🙂
I’m so glad I came across your blog! It’s delightful to find some humanity and open mindedness.
This is so precious! Love!
Your blog is a breath of fresh air. I have a son who is gender nonconforming. Why have I never seen that option before… I’ve said it over and over a few times already, willingly owning it. My son came out when he was 15 and it was not easy for me. He’s taught me so much and I wish that back then I’d had the openness and perceptiveness you have with your young CJ. I wrote 2 parts of a 3-part telling, which is, I guess, my coming out. I’ll keep coming back. Thanks and congrats on the fp!
You write well!!! Keep it up and perhaps the panic attacks will slow to a waltz 🙂
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Thank you dear one for sharing your love, experience, strength, and hope. Your blog touched such a special place within my soul. This is just what I needed today, I love it! Will definately be following your journey with Mr. C.J. and Fabulous family. You are all making such a positive difference in the lives all around you even those of us out here in techie space. May peace and love fill you all the same way you have done for so many others.
Much Gratitude, s
I have really enjoyed reading your blog about your son. My sister also has a son, quite similar to yours in fact. He is a ballet dancer, age 12 going on 13. It’s nice to see other parents embracing their kids for who they are not what they are. My nephew is incredibly flamboyant, but we love him just the way he is and in fact we encourage him to be just the way he is. Wish more people and families around the world could be like ours and yours.
What an amazing blog. As a parent to a gender non-conforming girl, I am definitely adding it to my blogroll – we are taking the same approach with her and letting her be who she is. It’s nice to know there are others out there! Cheers!
Your Blog describes my Best friends son to a tee! He is also 4 and my daughters best friend, but a much bigger princess then she ever could be. I am so glad you write this I am bursting to share your blog with their family. Also convey to your older son there is also another 7 year old with a little brother who loves princess’ more then dinosaurs.
Why does the world demand that we define a wee one’s life by there sudden flights of fancy (he’s going to be an olympic swimmer beacuse he’s held his breath under water at 3) she’s going to have food issues (because she hides her peas)? As if somehow by wrapping words around them it gives us the cues and clear direction for how to raise them. A child may love the piano or soccer for years and then drop it comepletely. A little one may be deeply scared of all things furry, but later become a vet. They are too young to be defined, but consistantly being spoken over with strongly defining words, a child will feel it, sense it and those around her/him will move to reinforce something that’s just a theory at best. At worst, it could become stumbling block, or even a huge wall in the way of that child becoming who they are really meant to be. I’ve got 5 kids, all amazing and all very different from each other. The longer we go on this journey the more I learn HOW MUCH things change and develop differently from what I thought was sure and clear in each child. What an adventure! and they don’t come with life maps or directions 🙂
What can we do? we love them with all we’ve got the best we know how. Speak words over them that are sure and those that we know we want in them forever – that they are beautiful, smart, creative, funny, good at_______, tries hard at ________, brave, kind…the list is endless and does not create any box that they could get stuck in or jump in to please us, fight to spite us, or fight because it doesn’t fit after all. Love them, keep the road wide but keep it safe.
Couldn’t agree more. 🙂
I think this blog is just the most beautiful blog I’ve ever seen! Thank you for writing all this down 🙂
Great blog you have here! Nice to see you’ve been Freshy Pressed!
Enjoy the expanded audience.
“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.” Robert Louis Stevenson
Now THAT’s going to be my mantra. Marvelous!
Hey, CJ’s Mom! I love your blog! Your whole family sounds like a lovely group of people; I wish I lived in your neighborhood.
I saw a story on Teen Ink (a magazine and website of stories and artwork by people aged 13 to 18) that I thought you would enjoy. Here’s a link:
I think it´s not serious…
How to say if a little boy is gay?
How to say if he is hetero:?
It takes time and experience… it´s not because he´s delicated, sweet, different of the others he is gay.
Please, think about it. It´s too early to say anything about the sexuality of this child.
She only says possibly gay. Which all children are. So, I’m not sure where she is saying CJ is gay or straight.
I am a woman (and a Mama to two girls) rapidly approaching 50. I grew up in the OC (in the shadow of Knott’s Berry Farm) with a mom not unlike you. Mom still lives at the house in which I grew up, and is still as fabulous now as she was then. When I was about CJ’s age I painted my face with a beard and a “tattoo” of an American flag on my arm. My mother’s response was to go inside and pull out my dad’s tie, hat, and shoes. The pictures from those days show a very happy little girl delighted in dressing up. The Christmas that I asked for either an Army uniform (it was during the Vietnam War, after all) or a Ram’s football uniform my mom, a pacifist, got me the football uniform. I wore it everywhere.
I came out when I was 19. My mom was truly clueless about my sexuality, but I honestly believe that it was because she honestly did not care. She continues to be a great friend. My hope is that 40 years from now you and CJ will have the type of relationship as my mother and me.
Hi I just recently put up a podcast on our website mentioning your blog here. Before you get excited, I must warn you that it perhaps does not show your website in the best light. However, these are the opinions of the radical queer community which are valid and I think need to be heard especially since this is a LGBT-oriented website. While I value that you are raising your child in a way that appears to be very loving, nurturing and accepting – which is awesome! – I do not think it appropriate to label your child as gay, bi, trans or anything else, because that is CJ’s choice and because, well, he is 4 years old. When I was 4 I had no idea I was gay. I didn’t even understand the concept of sexuality, rightly so. Embracing your child’s femininity is brave and supportive, but I do not feel that this expression of femininity should be interpreted as signs of emerging sexual orientation. I just think it is confusing and inappropriate for this child – if you noticed that your child particularly enjoyed being spanked, or had a strong affinity for shoes or feet, would you then consider him a part of the fetish community? There should be more parents in the world who are as open minded and accepting as you are, but please remember that femininity, wearing pink, playing with dolls, does not mean gay! If parents adopted this attitude about tomboys, they would all consider themselves to be raising dykes. LGBT people are diverse and have many different tastes and interests and range in their gender expression and level of masculinity/femininity. While I would love to welcome babies and toddlers into the LGBT community, it just isn’t appropriate.
Doesn’t the author say “possibly gay”?
I really doubt that she’s walking around saying, “CJ, you’re so gay and that’s awesome!” She’s simply not harassing him about his self expression and the fact that his choices in dress, activities and personality are not gender-normal. From what I’ve read CJ is simply allowed to be CJ. We should all be so lucky. It’s so silly for someone, especially someone in the LBGT community, to take this and twist it into something negative and not see it as two wonderful parents allowing their children to be free and loved. Can you just be happy that there are parents like this out there supporting their POSSIBLY gay children?
I think it is the binary categories themselves, like gay/straight, trans/cis, boy/girl, and even queer/non-queer that are silly and limiting. These lines aren’t drawn in people’s actual behaviour or feelings; they are just lines we try to carve the world into. And sadly, in that process of carving, people are influenced to model their behaviour and feelings after those binary categories. That’s why the use of these categories is limiting.
Again, I doubt she’s actually calling the kid gay or straight or trans or whatever. This blog is about a family who is accepting their child for whatever they decide to be. This blog wouldn’t make much sense if she said “Adventures in raising a slightly no label used so not to offend any possible label hating reader, possibly gaystraightbisexualgenderqueernon-queercrossdressing, totally fabulous son.” I’m sorry, labels like gay, straight, bisexual, etc, are sometimes necessary when trying to get a point across and when trying to get feedback and advice on raising a non-typical child. Lighten up.
C.J.’s Mom is clearly doing nothing wrong. I agree that categories can be useful and are sometimes necessary. If she didn’t say “possibly gay”, people would buzz about that and probe her about that. My issue is not with C.J.’s Mom’s employment of concepts; my issue is with the conceptual vocabulary that is currently at the tip of everyone’s tongue, waiting to be employed.
I think why people keep coming back to this point is that “being gay” (i.e. gay identity) was created as a historical reaction to the enforcement of a heterosexual matrix of gender and sexuality, within a Victorian legacy of medical & juridical discourse that creates identities out of sexual behaviour. Moreover, there would be no reaction (i.e. no being gay) to a restrictive, confining, hegemonic set of life choices if that set of choices wasn’t instituted in the first place. Gayness puts us in relation to heterosexist and genderist hegemony and confinement.
Maybe we have the idea in our heads that C.J. is one of the first of a generation free from the heteronormative system, so some of us have a negative gut reaction to the idea that he might come to exist within that system — because he becomes defined by his oppositional relation to it. (If ‘cooked’ is a bad thing, it is no good to be defined as ‘raw’ because that concept is incoherent without reference to ‘cooked’.) This could be idealism. It could be too simplistic to imagine the next generation existing purely, without the pitfalls and compromises of the last.
Here is the best case I can think of in favour of this possibly idealistic point: C.J. is being raised in a non-binary way with respect to gender. Sexual orientation is defined in terms of gender: to be gay is to be interested in the ‘same’ gender, to be straight is to be interested in the ‘opposite’ gender. But as our dogmatically binary understanding of what gender is breaks down, as we begin to see that within any ‘one’ gender there are actually a plurality of genders, as new genders proliferate, and as the phenomenon of gender becomes increasingly fluid, open, and inappropriable, the notions of ‘same’ and ‘opposite’ in regards to gender are revealed as impossible mirages.
If there is no ‘same’ or ‘opposite’, there can be no ‘gay’ or ‘straight’. If your gender is non-binary, your sexual orientation must, by definition, be non-binary as well.
The heterosexual and homosexual frameworks of desire rely on and reproduce two distinct genders. To overlay a non-binary approach to gender with a heterosexual/homosexual matrix is to re-institute the gender binary within that approach. There’s the contradiction; there’s the reason some folks feel uneasy about ‘gay’ being re-introduced in a gender creative situation.
Uniting under the banner of ‘gay’ might have been okay, or even historically necessary, for an older generation back when we didn’t know any better. We made ourselves mirror images of the heterosexual matrix, and in doing so unwittingly became its servants, reproducing its limiting, conformizing structure.
That said, the only way to get to a future with more freedom and possibility is to start with the present. We can’t get a fresh start and create gender & sexuality from scratch. There is no ‘starting from scratch’. If we want to be free of the categories we have inherited, we can’t just wish ourselves out of them. (We are already in them, whether we like it or not, and that’s what we have to work with.) We have to *break* out of them, which entails starting within them; going *through* them to get beyond them. To open up the future, you have to start with the present. There is no other place to start.
The question is not *whether* we should use categories like lesbian, gay, straight, bi, transgender, male, female, etc. The question is: a) how can we use them in a subversive way that undermines their legitimacy and thereby opens up possibilities and b) how can we avoid using them in an uncritical way that merely reproduces them and thereby leaves possibilities closed?
She is raising a son who has a strong pull toward the tendencies that society labels “girly”. This has to be extremely difficult because of the way society views this, judges this, and reacts to this. I may be putting words into the author’s mouth here, but this blog seems to have very little to do with putting labels on her child and more about finding her way through the difficulty of raising this child when society doesn’t see it as the norm. More about her finding support in this community, not about her putting her son into this community. I guess I wasn’t aware that to be a part of the LGBT community you had to prove your own gay self.
Such an inspiration. I suspect being an accepting father with an unaccepting mother is somewhat unique. While I can’t indulge my son in “girly” because of my wife’s scorn, I feel it necessary to at least let him know that I accept it, and that I think it is wonderful, even if the cost is his knowledge of, and confusion over, his parents’ inconsistent positions. He now wants me to buy him barbie and keep it “our little secret”. I am stuck either undermining his mother, reinforcing her scorn, or advocating a pattern of secrecy. I am at a loss.
David, as per the above, I think the biggest quandry you may have is that you have to have THAT convesation with your wife, and risk the scorn for the dsake of your son, which to be honest you should both have his best interests in mind. Am I correct here?
I don’t believe you should be placed in this “little secret” quandry at all. It is not a little secret at all, and really the point of all this is to not ever let it be secret, and therefore in some way shameful. It is not at all, it is who he is.
You’re on the right track at least one parent letting him know that he’s loved and accepted. But as a result, he’s manipulating you, which is completely understandable, but you needn’t let it go there. My bet is that there’s other issues with Mom that this may just be the catalyst to get y’all talking. Best of luck, sir!
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I found this site through Xanga, and I’m certainly glad I did.
You chronicle events really well, it’s a pleasure to read. Your beliefs, your open mindedness is refreshing and it makes us remember there’s not just the stereotypical superficial thoughts that go around the internet.
Your love, support and strong feelings towards your son and regarding his choices is defiantly inspirational. As someone planning to work in the Mental Health field, it’s people like you that makes others not feel so overwhelmed. Especially when it comes to things about gender identity and what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ for a girl and boy to do.
You’ve made it clear parents should embrace and expect what their youth gravitate to, not shun their feelings and stick by strict conventionalist thoughts.
Hi great Mom!
Love where you are in life and relate. My niece was all “boy” dress and toys and her wonderful parents…let her be. Today she is a great person, does not spend her life thinking about her “gender” but about being a solid positive role model. She is a teacher and a great one as well. My son is gay..and all ALL male! Truck driving proud of his sex kinda guy. You never know in life do you. What counts is loving your child and allowing them to grow up sane, with self confidence and morals. God bless you Momma..you are doing a bang up job!
I adore your website, and it is so great to read about your little guy! My little guy recently turned three, for his birthday one set of grandparents got him a dump truck and 2 talking dinosaurs. His older brothers play with them, and he could care less. My parents, on my request for him, gave a My Little Pony car with 2 ponies and a cooking set, he freaks out if his brothers touch those! He loves Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, helping mommy cook, and clean and he adores watching me and his teenage cousin put on makeup. He can put on mascara almost flawlessly…much to his father’s discontent. He loves trying on mommy’s necklace’s, shoes, and just loves to e loved. Dr. Phil and every other homophobe out there can kiss my butt,my boy is happy and they will never take that awy from him. God bless you for being intelligent enough to realize being politically correct is LESS important than having a child who can say his mother supported him 120% his entire life! I look forward to reading your posts, and I hope you realize how this website makes us mother’s of slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous sons breathe a sigh of releif to know that we are NOT ALONE!
P.S. His Dad did just agree to letting me get him a kitchen, even if it was pink, so baby steps are still steps forward!
Hurra, hurra, hurra to you!!! …oh…feel like I found my “virtual” twin soul mums & sisters!:D
Dearest C.J.’s mum, dearest KH…I am just amaaazed about HOW I found this site, and how warm my heart grows and how big my smile…and it’s a simply sweet and tender one!
I share so much of what you experience, and it makes me feel very special…as I am a LUCKY girl, to be the mum of such precious being(s)…GO ON and feel save, walking your way as you do: YOU ARE DOING IT WELL…and let your rainbows SHINE 😉
If the world has more people like you, it would be a much better place to live in. Thank you very much for being such an awesome mother!
I want to cry reading this blog because there should be more parents out there like you! I applaud what you are doing and love how you are trying to balance both children in their own stage of growing without stifling the other. It is a highwire act that you are doing well. Bravo to you and your family. I can’t wait to read your next post.
This is absolutely amazing! To think that a mom like you has the courage to blog about something like this? It’s something we need more of in society! AND the stories are just adorable! Looking forward to the nervous wreck you’ll become…. and stories about your fabulous CJ!
I found you through a passive link on Facebook. I too am writing a blog for my son and appreciate your passion to celebrate your son no matter what. Mne just likes to wear my high heel! There need to be more moms like you. Kudos!