Today marks my son Jeremiah’s 18th birthday. He’s the youngest child I have at home, and now he’s no longer a child at all.

This means I’ve managed to raise two boys into men, and two men I’m very proud to know.

Jeremiah was named long before he was ever conceived. Dan informed me when our other son Timothy was small that he had had a dream and God told him that his next son would be named Jeremiah.

Since this fit with the Biblical theme I had going on with Timothy, I was okay with this. I decided to name my next son Jeremiah Daniel way before I even thought about getting pregnant.

And, like Timothy, I was able to give my son initials for a name. With Tim it was TJ and with Jeremiah it was JD. They eventually decided they liked their full names better, so we dropped calling them by their initials probably around 1999 or so.

I don’t know if he ever hated his name, as so many kids are prone to do, and his was fairly unusual to begin with. What he did hate was the song “Joy to the World” thanks to that famous first line: “Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine.”

That his best friend nicknamed him “Bullfrog” for a good many years probably didn’t do much to endear him to the song either.

Although when his girl friends named him “Jere-Bear”, he probably longed for those bullfrog days.

Jeremiah was a handful from the day he was born. He liked things his way, and that began when he was right out of the womb. Even when he decided to be born, it was on his terms and not any of ours.

He was born at 9:03 in the evening, just in time for Cheers, which was playing on the TV in the labor and delivery room. I’ve teased him over the years that this was his theme song.

When we brought him home he had his own ideas about how things would be run, no matter what schedule I tried to carve out to take care of both Jeremiah and his older brother.

Instead I found myself up every two hours on the dot; I was no longer the boss.

Years later he would get a T-shirt that read, “I’m bored. Entertain me.” This would sum him up very succinctly.

Whereas Tim looks like his dad with my coloring, Jeremiah more resembled me with Dan’s coloring. He had blond hair and blue eyes up until his Goth days, where he traded his blond locks for jet black hair. Though the Goth phase is behind him now, he still keeps that black hair. Maybe I’m biased, but I believe he’s as handsome as ever.

The interesting thing about Jeremiah is that he has a lot of all his parents all wrapped up in one package. He’s got Dan’s generous spirit and loving heart, but he’s got Steven’s smart ass attitude and comic timing. He’s got my face and my strength of conviction – even though he’s way stronger than I would have ever been at his age.

It’s really kind of cool to see all of us in him, while he’s still his own wonderful person.

He’s quick as a whip and very very funny, but he’s also a lot more passionate than he knows. He sees himself more as a slacker and apathetic, but I believe when it comes to something he believes in there will be no stopping him. He’s also very talented; when he earned his own accolades for a story he wrote in elementary school, you can imagine how proud I was that he had inherited my creativity and my gift for words. It’s a bond between us I cherish, even though he hasn’t seen fit to cultivate it much. (yet)

He’s also very strong; something I learned when he was just a wee little thing in preschool. He ended up riding a trike down a hill and cutting his forehead open on a chain link fence. Dan went to get him after the school called, and when they stopped back by the apartment to pick me up before heading to the hospital – I took one look at my poor battered baby and went into full Mom mode.

His strong chin began to tremble and Dan got onto me softly. “Mama,” he said, “you’re gonna make him cry!”

So I summed up my courage the same way Jeremiah had, and he subsequently got several stitches without shedding one tear.

He was all of four.

That’s our Jeremiah. He’s never been one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, although he is a deeply caring individual. When he lost his daddy just days before his 11th birthday, he was the picture of strength… way stronger than I remember being in his shoes.

He knew what he had to do for his dad and he did it. And that same courage and strength still carries him on today when things get rocky in his other relationships.

He’s not afraid to man up and do what needs to be done. And he’s so much capable of excellence than he even knows.

Like his brother, he has his own ideas about things that don’t always gel with what I believe. But as a parent there’s only so much you can do. You teach them right from wrong and attempt to give them a good, strong foundation – but ultimately their choices are their own. When that baby is laid into your arms you have no idea who they’ll become, but you just hope that you have the strength to guide them to be the best person they can be… someone capable of making their dreams come true.

As I face this very monumental birthday I can say that I believe that I’ve done this for both my kids. Even more than that, they’ve taught me way more than I ever taught them.

My men. Two phenomenal men who brighten my life each and every day.

I’d do it all again. In a heartbeat.

Happy birthday, Jeremiah. Know that now matter what, we’ll always be there. And you’re always loved.


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