Good Mom, Bad Mom 

A few moms of boys have been brave enough to ask me about some of the difficult chapters I’ve experienced raising two sons.  We’ve talked about the ways our society rate us as a “good” or “bad” mom. As a result of those experiences (and random encounters with moms of boys that I’ve met at the beach, the grocery store or in Wal-Mart) I realized my 20plus years of experience as a “BoyMama”may have more value than my years as a recording artist. They’ve definitely been harder and more rewarding.

I’ve been hosting BoyMama weekends for small groups of women who want to understand their changing role with their sons in a safe space full of honest conversations, understanding, expert tips, gourmet food, award winning local wine from Arrington Vineyards, amazing local chocolate & more.

I’d love to share a little about why I think it’s worth joining me, one of my heros, Daystar Counseling’s David Thomas and other BoyMamas this October for two life changing days at a beautiful farm in Franklin, Tn. Click on the vimeo link below.

For more info and to register click the link here. www.nashvilletreehouse.com/events

Kim BoyMama Weekend https://vimeo.com/179102778

“Why it’s worth coming to Nashville in October for BoyMama weekend” from my guest BoyMama, Edie Oakley

Edie

The BoyMama Weekend was encouraging, empowering and FUN!!

Kim and Paulette are the “Queens of Nashville Hospitality!!” You will feel loved and connected the moment you walk into the door. They create a warm, beautiful environment, cook delicious food, share their love of story, music, and laughter.

For me, the weekend away energized me to “begin again” with my boys. I realized that I was living as a distracted, disconnected, and sometimes angry mom when it came to really understanding my boys who were 8 and 12yo- emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. Most days, I felt out-numbered and left out when my husband and 2 boys were together. Listening to Kim share about her relationship with her boys and the unique connection each of them had with her- was encouraging and real. She didn’t “sugar coat” her motherhood journey, but she did provide wisdom, humor and practical advice- which I was “drinking in”- for my parched heart longed to connect deeply!

I also loved the session with David Thomas (counselor, author, speaker) who empowered me when he shared that mothers play a VITAL role in the lives of her son- he said that “providing a solid and affectionate relationship with your son gives him the platform of emotional intimacy, relational empathy, and sensitivity he needs to develop mature and secure relationships as an adult.” Hearing his words, shifted my perspective from “no role” to a VITAL one- a life-giving one. My presence, my hugs, my driving them all over town to their sporting events, etc- these are the unique roles I have been given as his mom.

I absolutely LOVE being a BoyMama and encourage any mom of a son to attend a BoyMama event if they can. It is an investment that I am so glad that I made a couple of years ago and I am experiencing the benefits today of living intentionally with my two “Wild Things.”

Edie Oakley, RN, BSN, MA
Duke certified Integrative Health coach

Please click here to register and find out more about The Nashville Treehouse BoyMama Weekend October 7-8,2016. Limited space to 25 BoyMamas. Early Bird pricing through August 15th.  Also, on the Nashville Treehouse website, there’s an audio version of this testimonial read by Edie.

 

 

G

Kissing him goodbye

Last night I had a dinner date with my 23 year old son, Graham.  We were both worn out and just happy to be sitting at the same table to eat, which is a rarity for us these days.  We talked of his new opportunities as a recent Stanford graduate — and yes,forgive me as I brag on his enormous accomplishment.  I’m so proud of Graham for his ability to be a student  while starting as Center in football at the highest college level (3 Rose Bowls in his 4 years!). As many of you know, he’s decided to pass on his last year of playing college and chose not to pursue the NFL with many of his teammates a few months ago.

As I kissed Graham goodbye last night (after his whirlwind visit home to Nashville), my heart was flooded with memories of so many of the times I kissed him goodbye. Now, I go for months without seeing one of my favorite faces on the planet.

I remember kissing that little face at the door of his Kindergarten class, as he and his little brother left with their dad on Christmas Day the first year we were divorced, at his first overnight camp, at his new school in 7th grade and as he left 4 years ago for Stanford.  I cried many times when I said goodbye to Graham, especially in that first year in California when he was struggling to adjust and “red-shirted” which means you work as hard as everyone, but you don’t get to play the first year so that you can play if/when they need you a fifth year.

Last night, I didn’t cry.  We’re beyond that now (well, he is and most of the time I am), but my heart still aches a bit when he leaves.  This morning my eyes have filled with tears several times as I’ve thought about him and all the life we’ve experienced together.  As an empty nester, there are days I long for some of those sweet nights I sat on his bed talking with him for what seemed like hours (he was a brilliant philosopher at bedtime) while he ate my “homemade” slice and bake cookies and milk.

We had a little text this morning (my gentle giant even uses emojis now with me because he knows I love them!) as he was leaving town. As I wrote back to him, my heart was overwhelmed.  I texted “ I love you more than you’ll probably ever really know”. Graham knows I love and adore him, but as much as he knows, I don’t know if he really believes how unconditional my mother love is for him.  I didn’t plan to say it, it just popped out as my heart was flooded with that same love I’ve had since I first saw his face on that 10lb 4 oz body, 23 years ago after a long delivery that turned into a C-section.

Like most moms I know, we haven’t had an easy ride.  We’ve “been to hell and back” as they say on more than one occasion and he’s broken my heart in ways he doesn’t even know. And, I’m very aware that even in my best attempts at being a great mom, I’m not without fault and have failed him and wounded his tender heart.  But, at the end of the day, we have a lot of love for each other that covers both of our faults and mistakes.  Early on, we began building a real relationship that is now becoming a friendship and as he enters into the adult world.  We’ve both worked on letting go, forgiveness, understanding and speak as honestly as we know how.  I look forward to everytime I get to be with my adult son. I’ve also done the painful and rewarding work to truly let him go to become the best version of himself that he can be.

text

I’ve had tears in my eyes writing this blog this morning as I’m continually reminded of my life’s work…. being a mom to Graham and Benji. That’s one of the main reasons I’m hosting another BoyMama Weekend with The Nashville Treehouse this Fall.  It’s a safe place for us to be honest about the “good, bad and ugly” of raising a son.  I want to help moms like you have the tools and tips to have a great relationship with your son. I’ve enlisted the help of an expert, David Thomas, and other seasoned BoyMamas.  I hope you’ll check out the info at the BoyMama Weekend link above and consider joining us at one of the most beautiful farms in Franklin, TN in October.

 

 

13592752_10153752554447045_8480188281858365568_n

All of Our Sons

 

Today, like many of you my heart is still reeling from all of the events last week.As I scrolled through my Facebook feed and watched the news this morning, I felt the heaviness of all that is going on pushing down on my heart again.

We’ve been praying and grieving with those in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas, but many are calling for us to do more than that.

As I watched this morning as two of the hosts of The View talk about the difference between “fearing for the life of one’s son when he leaves the house” because he’s black verses not fearing because one is white, it was again a reminder to me that we must find ways to unify our country instead of being part of dividing it.  If we truly believe we are ALL God’s children, we have to find a way for us to love and respect all lives, all of our sons and right now, that means doing what ever we can for those who have not been respected, protected and treated fairly and joining those who are crying out for us to see their pain as they protest “Black Lives Matter“in our streets.

My heart breaks for my friends who represent the millions of mothers who are fearful that their sons (and husbands) may not come home from work or school today. This unspeakable reality should not be acceptable in our society. As a mom of two privileged white sons, I can’t imagine how it feels to fear for their safety on a daily basis.I believe that as mothers in America, we need to wake up and speak up about the injustice going on around us!

I hear many leaders speaking out saying that American racism is being exposed at a new level and that we are being given the opportunity to do something about it… to speak… to act… to stand against hate and division.Racism is epidemic and not something that is going to change immediately, but we have to rise up and speak out or be held responsible for the injustice around us.I believe if we look for ways to love and promote unity in our corner of the world and to support everyone who is doing the same, we can make a difference. I’m grateful to hear from men like the police chief  Kerr Putney from Charlotte, NC http://www.wbtv.com/clip/12579721/raw-video-cmpd-chief-kerr-putney-speaks and TD Jakes speaking a few days ago in Dallas http://www.tdjakes.com/posts/a-time-to-stand-together.

It is time for a new day in America.We can chose to be part of the solution or part of the problem, but as far as I see it, those are our only two choices.We have much more work to do to be the nation that we claim to be.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are” Benjamin Franklin.

justice

Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

Peace to you today, Kim

PS. I’ve been AWOL on my blog for a while and will share more of that with you next time, but in light of all that’s going on, I felt like this was more important than anything else I could say to you today.

Especially for BoyMamas of Seniors

graduation-cap-in-air-300x200

As you all can tell if you read this blog, I’m not doing too well at keeping up.  Last year, I was hopeful that I could give this some attention and be a resource for some of the moms of boys that I meet not only around the country at events, but the “members of the boymama club” that I recognize in the park or in the grocery store.

But, due to many factors in my life the past 5 months or so, I have really dropped the ball.  I also had a big transition going on with my youngest son, Benji that I couldn’t share publicly until his band was announced and had their official launch party.  Since that was last week, my “gag order” is now expired!  I’ll be sharing more about this part of our journey next week.

But, that’s not what I want to write about today… this is a quick post for moms of SENIOR boys.

I know you’re already exhausted and are either in the middle of preparations for graduation or you’re just trying to remember your name after all the hoopla last weekend!

Regardless of where you are in the “May Madness”, take a breath for a couple minutes.  Rest in the fact that you have given your son everything you have to be a successful human being.  Yes, you’ve made mistakes, but you’ve just crossed a major finish line and deserve a huge pat on the back!  If you still have a party to throw or lunch to cook for 50 relatives, “hang in there” and know that at the end of the day, making sure your son feels celebrated (and whether or not you’re stressed out) that day is more important than the college water bottle labels being perfect or the personalized cupcakes you’ve made or ordered.

Some of you may feel like a zombie because this year has been a painful one as your son has pushed so hard in his attempts to “get ready to launch” that he’s bruised your heart and crushed parts of it that you didn’t even realize he could.  Or maybe, like some Mamas I know,  you’re secretly grateful (and ashamed) that he’s about to go because you’re “rung out” from a tough year of navigating life with him.

I know that my last year with Graham was the hardest one we EVER had!  He turned 18 in May before his Senior year and thought he was a ‘full grown man who didn’t need a mama interfering in his life or decisions’. It was so bad that I almost kicked him out of the house before he left for college.  He apologized to me soon after (his vision cleared when he was thousands of miles away at school enduring his first summer preparing to play college football) and we’ve healed from that difficult year.   We both have some scars that remind us it was not a ‘bad dream’, but actually part of our journey as mother and son.  If this is you… please hear me say, “this is not the end of your story with your son!“.  I was broken-hearted and didn’t know if I could recover from the pain of that year, but I did.  I now have a great relationship today with my son who’s turning 22 tomorrow!  I’ve also been able to let go of my boys in a more purposeful way in the past 4 years as a result of what I began to learn that year.

David Thomas, author of Wild Things and DayStar Counseling in Nashville, has been a huge part of my journey with my sons helped me understand that it’s necessary for boys development to want to get out from under their parents roof.  That as a 17 or 18 year old, it’s critical that he separates and feels the desire to go out on his own into the world.  Sometimes, in order to do that, they push really hard… especially against the one holding on the tightest.

So, my advice here is pretty simple…. “Lean in” to the reality that he wants to go and that’s a good thing.  If you need a reminder of the alternative, check out the movie “Failure to Launch“.  While as Mamas, we may not want our kids to go, that’s the goal we’ve been working towards since their birth.  Remember, we want them to go out into the world and be a functioning adult.   We want our sons to make their own path and become the best version of himself!   Also, be aware that his heart is full of mixed emotions of being “ready to go” and “scared to death“!  He’s probably been operating on very little sleep with all the hoopla and is running on a low tank of emotional fuel, so give him some grace when he snaps at you.  I’m sure you’re tired too, so try to take care of yourself and ask for help from your husband, family and friends.

Enjoy these days as much as you can!   Celebrating HIM with joy is truly the best gift you can give him.  How he feels when he’s in the kitchen with you or in the car riding home from an event will be what his memories are made of twenty years from now.  Be patient if he wants you to wait while he takes 1000 pictures with his friends, or back off if he only wants you to take a few.  I promise he won’t care so much about all the Pintrest projects, but he will care that you recognized he was becoming a man and you let him go with as much grace as you could muster while loving him with all of your heart!

If I had a graduation cap to throw in your honor, I’d do it right now!

Bravo BoyMamas! Much love and peace from here.

Christmas Back To You

2014 Christmas card pic from Stanford football game Fall 2014

2014 Christmas card pic from Stanford football game Fall 2014

I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season and having fun counting down the days with your family and friends.  I’ve been out on the road doing some Christmas concerts and celebrating Thanksgiving with my sons and the Stanford football team in California, so I’ve just finally put up my tree!

For so many of us, the Christmas season is bittersweet.  We experience the joy and the pain in technicolor as we hold sweet memories, sadness, songs and our Savior’s birth in our frail, very human hearts.  Just ten days ago, my family marked 10 years since my daddy went to heaven at the age of 65.  It hit me harder than I’d expected and I found myself crying on and off for days thinking about how much I miss him.

Since 2004, Christmas has never been the same for me and my family.  But, like many of you, we hold on to the hope that we will be together again.  That part of my story helped me realize that what we all are really longing for at Christmas is heaven.

No tears…no pain…EVERYONE we love in the room, and as we sing in the carol, O Come Emmanuel, “bid envy, strife and quarrels cease, fill the whole world with heaven’s peace”.  As my family waits for my 94 year old grandmother to head there soon, I’m again reminded of that reality.  No matter how pretty we make our homes, how perfect everything looks, it’s only going to last long enough to get some good pictures and hopefully build a few memories around the table with those we love.

Late last night, after a fun night with friends, I sat in the stillness by the tree.  I felt like a kid on Christmas eve looking at the lights and counting down the days until my son, Graham gets home from college for a few days.  Since he plays football, he’ll barely be here before he has to return to prep for their bowl game, Dec. 30th in the 49ers new stadium.

So many memories flooded my mind and heart and I just sat in those feelings for a while until I wandered off to bed.  I’m grateful to finally be at a place in my life where I can allow myself feel the joy and the pain of life on this earth for 50 years and all that it’s held for me and my boys. I hope and pray that you may be able to do the same this year… in the midst of it all, even if it’s mostly pain.  I’ve learned the hard way that if you “block the pain“, the also “block the joy, love and life” that helps us get up and face this crazy world another day.  (I know you’re probably bombarded with a million things today, so I’m trying to keep this short, but please know that I know it’s not an easy 1-2-3 process that I’m talking about.)

I want to share a few songs via video from my Christmas tour, Christmas Back To You.  I wrote the title cut when Graham was a Senior and I realized it was his “last Christmas” at home with me and Benji — just the 3 of us– as my “little boy”.   It’s a tear jerker…. even this past Sunday night, at a concert in Birmingham, I couldn’t sing it without crying at the end.

That’s why I’m also posting the second one, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas featuring my son, Benji (as a 14 year old who’ll turn 18 in a few weeks.)  We had so much fun recording it and when I do it live Benji appears via video and steals the show every night!  I’m also including a little video (Benji “Being Loud”) that I show before we do the song of Benji as a preschooler.  It should’ve been a major clue to me that one day he’d inform me he wanted to be a rapper! He was “free-styling” as a four year old!  Some big news will be announced in early 2015, so keep your ears open for more news on his music.

Click here for the Christmas Back to You video.

Click here for the Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas video.

Click here for Benji “Being Loud” video.

I truly hope that God’s peace and joy bring Christmas back to you this year.

Much love from my house to yours.

Bigger Than His Body

I know most of you know that my son, Graham is #52, the starting Center for Stanford Football.  It’s been such a thrill watching him play this fall live and on national tv.  It’s especially rewarding to see him stepping into so much of what I’ve always known he was meant to do beyond football as well.  Graham was “Red-shirted” his Freshman year, which means he practiced every single practice with “all that he had” knowing that no matter what… he wasn’t going to play in the game.  I really can’t imagine what kind of discipline that takes.  Especially, when you’ve been an All American in high school with more offers than you can count coming out of high school.

Graham’s worked really hard the past few years at Stanford and has learned several lessons the hard way.  His journey is his to share if and when he chooses, but as his Mama, I’m really grateful he’s made it to his “sweet spot!”  I’m so grateful to get to see him not only play his heart out on the field, but see him stepping up as a leader on and off it.   Graham’s always been a people person. He’s able to relate and talk to anyone and willing to help, so it’s not surprising to me that every time I go to Stanford, other parents tell me how much Graham has helped their son with the huge adjustment of college football.

This week, this video (Shuler on Stanford) was released by Stanford Football and I’d love to share it with you.  A friend of mine in Dallas tweeted me after seeing it that “Graham’s heart was bigger than his body” and it made my day because Craig saw what I’ve always known about my “mountain of a man”.   I was reminded again that God does above and beyond what we can ask or think when He opens doors for our sons that lead them to be the best versions of themselves and step into their own unique calling.

Graham would be the first to say it’s been a rocky road the past few years… again, his story to tell.  But, if you have a son enduring some of those times, I hope this encourages you to step out of the way and trust God with his journey.  I’m incredibly grateful for the coaches at Stanford, especially Head Coach David Shaw for creating a football culture that is as concerned with my son’s character and education as with his football abilities. They’ve raised the bar for Graham and his teammates and my son is benefiting from that environment in more ways than I can count.  It’s definitely helped me rest easier knowing that they truly care about Graham now and who he’s becoming as he enters adulthood.

This morning, I did a radio interview for WBYN (107.5 FM) for a benefit concert that I’m part of in a few weeks in the Philadelphia area.   The host started off our conversation telling me that he’d seen Graham’s video this week and wanted to talk to me about him and his perspective on being at Stanford.  Of course, a delight to this mama’s ears!  I’ve shared it on facebook, but it prompted me to write this and share it here too.

Last week, I was at their game against Notre Dame (tough game in horrible weather) and I tried to endure it in my ski jacket and rain gear, but wimped out and joined the old folks in the gym watching the big screens.  I’m grateful that Friday night, I can watch Graham in my pjs on ESPN 8pm CST kickoff vs Washington State.  I’m hoping for an easy win, though I know in the PAC-12 that doesn’t happen too often, but my stomach has just recovered from the tension of the last game.  My sweet mama is hoping for that too. She text me during the last game and said, “Graham needs to play a different position… this is too intense!”  My mom doesn’t watch football, but is watching Stanford this fall with her 94 year old mother.  They’re cheering for Graham along with all of our family and friends!

After the game in the 30 something degree rain.

After the game in the 30 something degree rain.

Hope you’ll join us cheering for #52 and Stanford if you’re home tomorrow night and are able to catch the game!

Peace and love from here, Kim

Next weekend, I’ll be hosting our last “BoyMama Weekend” at The Nashville Treehouse.  We still have a few spots available if you are within driving distance of Nashville, would love to invite you to join us.  David Thomas (Wild Things, The Art of Nuturing Boys) who’s my special guest is worth coming for alone!  We also have real conversations about parenting, great music, gourmet food and a wine tasting woven into a few days of R&R for moms of boys.  www.nashvilletreehouse.com/boymama