18 thoughts on your 18th birthday!


Today is the day my youngest boy turns eighteen. I did not know him as a baby, he did not come from my womb.  I missed his first smile, word, and step.  I did not get up with him in the middle of the night to calm him or to change his diaper.  I do not have a baby album to ooh and ahh over with him as I do two of my other children.   I cannot tell him what it felt like to have him inside me, or where I was for the moment of his birth.

Our story begins in a bombed out, pepto-bismo pink house where behind a broken half wall, Christian peeked over and looked directly at me trying to hide his smile as he ducked down again out of sight. His white teeth and rich, dark ebony skin in such contrast that he seemed almost larger than life.  I was done for, smitten, completely in love, head over heels and a bit dumbfounded at my immediate unconditional love for this stranger whom I would now call son.

ry=400-5This sweet miracle of a four-year old in front of me was now my son, and I his mother.  God did that. No less miraculous than when I gave birth, and just as awe-inspiring. Christian turns eighteen today.  Today I share with you my letter to him as he reaches for adulthood peeking over the tumbling  wall of adolescence and hiding his smile as he takes on this new adventure.

My dear and precious Christian,

Happy Birthday! Eighteen, I am not sure either of us thought you would make it to this day! I love you so very much and am so proud of the person you are, and still becoming.  Here on your 18th birthday  are my 18 bits of advice and reflections, ( you know it was hard to pick just 18)

  1. You are my son, being your mom is more than a bloodline, more than the same skin color and certainly more than the word adopted.
  2. Your birth mom loved you so much, she chose to give you life twice, once by birth and the second time by entrusting you to our care.  How lucky you are to have two moms that love you and always want the best for you.
  3. You are black, you are African, you are Liberian, you are beautiful, never be ashamed of where you came from or the rich heritage of your ancestors
  4. Keep asking questions, your curiosity is one of your greatest gifts.  Even if it annoys me keep asking until you understand.
  5. Remember to keep your hands off your penis and fingers out of your nose
  6. Life is not fair, keep going
  7. Your sister is not the base of all evil (some, but not all)
  8. Bacon is the answer to almost anything
  9. A man who cooks is more desired than a man who orders out
  10. You will encounter prejudice, racial profiling, and discrimination, acknowledge it and move on.
  11. Try to remember to look people in the eye, and speak clearly
  12. Look before you leap, think before you speak, don’t do it just because your brother is doing it.
  13. You have amazing tenderness and a heart of Gold
  14. ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘ I’m Sorry’ are three of the most important phrases you will ever learn, use them often
  15. Your smile is infectious and will open many doors, share it freely
  16. Find your passion and make a living doing it
  17. Take care of me when I am old-which is now.
  18. You are a child of God, dearly loved, alive and on the earth for a purpose, never doubt your worth

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Saturday Story time presents: Love, Sex and Weddings
September 3, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: humor, love, Parenting, Teenagers | Tags: , ,

Weddings are one of my favorite things to witness. I love, love. I am a hopeless romantic, and so whenever we get the chance to go to a wedding I am all for it. Scott may not be quite as gung ho about them, but in my humble opinion, he is the best wedding officiant ever. He has a way of getting to the heart of the two getting married. Scott draws a picture of the couple with words and when they say “I do”, even if I never knew them before I am so glad they did.

My boys do not share my love of weddings, I know that is hard to believe, as most young men seek out such events, but alas, not mine. Last year on Labor day weekend, while Scott was busy laboring, the four kids and I went to Boise, Idaho. A very special friend of the family was getting married, now you know it had to be a special person if the boys were willing to come. Eric had become an honorary member of our family, when he was interning as a youth pastor at our church. He embraced our family and became a big brother for the kids. He even stayed at our home, as a young man barely twenty, and took care of the kids when Scott and I went to Hawaii for an anniversary trip.

When you have a history like we do with Eric, going to the wedding is a non-negotiable. I sweetened the trip by promising a day at the water park and off we went. Boise is about a five and a half hour drive and pretty boring as far as scenery. On the way there, the kids were all in their own private world of iPods and headphones. It was a quiet, uneventful drive. After a morning at the water park, a push to get the kids dressed for the early evening wedding we arrived at the venue, barely making it in time.

It was a small gathering in a beautiful garden, the ceremony had begun just as we arrived. The kids and I found a spot in the back and I was congratulating my self on everything going so smoothly. Now, I have mentioned before that my boys are far from the sit still types. Isaac decided to stand up in the back, Christian tried to sit next to me but would not stop fidgeting or asking questions so I shooed him away to be with his brothers.

Jessie and I sat, and became completely involved in the drama. It was all my favorite things, romance, a crying groom when he saw his bride, funny stories and of course the climax of “You may now kiss the bride”. The wedding ceremony ended and our family began the walk over to the reception area while pictures were being taken. Christian, in his ever curious, no holds barred communication, asks me very loudly “What did the pastor mean when he said this kiss really had meaning?”

Eric and Melissa had chosen to be ‘pure’ before their wedding day. Isaac in his great wisdom says “Duh, they have not had sex yet”. Christian’s face is stuck in a state of surprise, “Isn’t sex good? Don’t they love each other? Why would they wait?” Where is Scotty when I need him. John is trying not to laugh, Isaac is thinking of all the ways he can exploit this conversation and Christian is absolutely confused.

The ride home was far from the quiet ride to Boise. The four kids and I had an animated conversation about life, sex and what really matters. It was not what I had planned on. Yet, I had a captive audience, a good subject, and my eyes were on the road, which helped with all of our awkward feelings about the topic. Yes Christian, sex is good, really good, yes your dad and I have, and still make love. Yes, we both waited till we were married. No, you can not claim ‘TMI’ when it was you who started this whole conversation. No, most people do not wait. Yes, you are right, most of the media makes sex a bigger thing than it needs to be…

The conversation went on, the jokes were made, the honesty wonderful, and the journey home seemed far shorter than the way to the wedding. I am reminded over and over that moments like these can not be manufactured. If I had brought up the subject of sex or anything to do with it I know it would have been met with blank stares and grunts. Instead we were able to talk, and joke, and laugh, and hopefully impart some knowledge that will stick for the future.