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

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“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.

 

 

Raisin’ Lions

lion

Today is one of those days that I know, like I know my name, that God is real and that the peace He gives is unexplainable! My son, Benji is in surgery right now, it’s been about an hour and they expect another. He has a rare disease that has allowed some pieces of benign tumor to be lodged in his right hip. The surgeon says it’s like having small rocks in there, which is not only incredible painful, but causes a tear that they’re repairing today as well as removing the “foreign pieces” in this hip.

For years, I’ve jokingly said that I was “raisin’ lions” because both of my boys have such strong personalities. Benji is #2 and isn’t a patient young man (Commander for any of you CORE personality folks). He was really frustrated because our call time at the hospital was 5:15am and he’d been without water and food since well before midnight expecting to go into surgery at the crack of dawn. They actually ended up starting around 10:10am, so he was acting goofy in the prep area while waiting for them to take him back to be “put under”. He told me if he didn’t act silly, he’d “try to jump up and leave“. Then they abruptly signaled me that I’d need to leave and Benji asked me to pray for him. In that quick minute, as I held his strong hand and prayed for him to feel God’s peace and presence, I kissed him and was reminded again that he is in God’s hands and that I can trust Him to take care of Benji. Not only today,but everyday.

I’ve truly felt “held” today by the prayers of friends and family as I’ve sat in a hospital room with my son’s dad since early this morning. His unexplainable peace has filled every inch of this room and my heart. Benji’s surgery is pushing 4 hours now, so we’re hoping he’s going to the recovery room soon.

Before I sign off, I wanted to share this with you. Maybe I’m loopy from 3 hours of sleep last night, but I love little surprise love notes from God like this. I went down to the cafe a few minutes ago and grabbed a snack…. some hummus with pretzels and randomly, some raisins that we sitting by the check out stand. I don’t believe I’ve EVER bought raisins for a snack, but it seemed like a good choice today for some reason. As I began to eat them, I had to laugh. They are LION brand raisins and they are made in California. For me, it was one of those little love notes from God that said, “I’ve got your LION who’s on the operating table today… I’ve even got the one in California!”

If you are “raisin’ a lion” or a pair like mine, hug them hard tonight and let them know that you see their strength as a young man as well as that little guy inside who still needs his mama’s kiss even when he may not act like he does. I’ll have to be gentle with mine for the next few days, but can’t wait to see his face again in a little while.

Posting this pic “pre-op”… had to crop off the “hair net” or Benji would never speak to me again.

benji

I Am Enough

  I love the Fourth of July. I love fireworks, yummy food and anything with a flag on it…well, anything cute, that is! In spite of my love for the 4th that goes back to childhood, as an adult it became a mixed bag for me. I was married on the 4th back in 1992. A little ironic to get married on “Independence Day”, but we did. I’ve officially been a single mom since 2001, so every other July 4th, my boys were not with me for the ‘family holiday of the summer‘. For years, those “solo” days held a “little stinger” in them for me.  Regardless, I loved buying festive clothes for my boys and even when they went to camp over the 4th or were with their dad, I made sure they had fun t-shirts, flip flops, hats, sunglasses…. whatever trendy trinket I could find to send. When it was my year to be with them, we enjoyed some wonderful celebrations at the beach, in the mountains and in our fun Franklin neighborhood through the years.  I’m truly grateful for those precious memories. We always had cute pictures and fun food (even before facebook and Pinterest because I’m a photo freak), but most of the time, I was completely worn out after working so hard for all of it. On those hot July days when I was husbandless and childless, I felt really out of place.  My family in Memphis didn’t really understand why I didn’t want to be at their big annual 4th event alone.  I remember on several occasions being invited to attend cookouts and fireworks with friends, but instead I stayed home and did huge organizational projects at my house, or just snuck off to a movie with a friend. One 4th, my best friend tried to help me with a big job in my garage that ended up being a traumatic night for her as her little dog died and she fell from a tall ladder and was knocked unconscious. Neeedless to say, we didn’t make the big Belle Meade fireworks celebration that night. I was reminded yesterday as I woke up in a perfectly quiet house while my sons are in California and Haiti, that those years are far behind me now. I was home in Nashville on one of the most beautiful days I can ever remember having in July. No humidity and a balmy 84 degrees, perfect blue skies and a light breeze, something highly unusual here, for those of you who don’t live in the south. I had a peaceful, enjoyable day relaxing on the amazing deck of the house I’m leasing that is nestled in the woods on a small hill in the middle of Brentwood/Nashville. I didn’t play “beat the clock” or give in to any obligatory need to celebrate in the typical “American” way that I’ve done in years past.  I didn’t have a new festive t-shirt (I did buy the boys tshirts in case they wanted to have one to wear, but they probably didn’t even put them on). I ate out for the first time that I can remember on the 4th.  I didn’t even cook a thing, unless you consider making guacamole “cooking”. I putzed around all day and ended the night watching a movie outside on the deck with a happy drink and fireworks blasting in the background. (I tried getting a picture, but it didn’t really translate). As I scrolled through my facebook and Instagram during the day, seeing all of the family pics and posts, I was reminded of those years that I worked so hard to have a “perfect family day“.   I was also aware of the reality of how hard women, especially “Mamas”, work to pull of big festive events .  I can honestly say that for the first time in a long time, it didn’t make me sad to see the posts of “whole” families together celebrating.  I was truly happy to see the adorable pictures and big smiles along with fireworks from all over the world.  I was giddy to be home last night and grateful as I went to sleep for the “day off”. The simple joys of rest and peace that I’m experiencing at this time in my life are an unexpected gift that I’m learning to embrace at fifty. But I woke up thinking about those of you who were “working hard” yesterday for your family, friends or even for yourself (so you could post it for your friends to see), and I wanted to post this wonderful reminder I saw on twitter last year from one of my ‘favorite people I’ve never met’, Brene Brown.  Especially, if you went to bed last night with any regrets or reminders of what you didn’t get done for the day….. do this today. “Raise your fist + repeat: No matter what gets done + what’s left undone, I am enough. #LastWeekofSchoolCrazies #Motherhood Also, if you can, try to find some time to take a little break for yourself. I’m pretty sure you deserve it. Much love from here. PS. Benji returns today, so the atmosphere in my house will change dramatically in a few hours. He brings “the party!”  Also, we still have room at our BoyMama weekend coming up July 11-12 for those of you within driving distance of Nashville who want to connect with more mamas sharing honestly about their journeys with their sons. www.nashvilletreehouse.com/events 

Some Fights Are Worth Fighting

Benji's Instagram Jan 2014

Benji’s Instagram Jan 2014

Well, after starting off with a bang in my attempt to become a blogger, I fell off the wagon in May and for most of June.  Like most of you, I was juggling happy events like Mother’s Day, weddings, graduations and birthdays along with some unexpected funerals and tough times with my youngest son, Benji.  Hopefully, Benji won’t be mad at me for sharing this (maybe he’ll never know, since he’s on a mission trip in Haiti right now,) but a few weeks ago, he was in his first real fight.  I’m grateful this didn’t happen until he was 17. He swears it won’t happen again, but every man I’ve talked to about it tells me it’s an inevitable part of being a man.

When I first got the call from Benji that he needed me to come and pick him up, I was mad at him for getting into a fight for ANY reason!  He said emphatically, “Mama, I don’t need a lecture right now, I think I have a concussion (as diagnosed by his big brother over the phone in California) and I need you to come and pick me up.”  I won’t go into all of the details, but after hearing the “whole story,” I understood it was probably unavoidable.  Benji told me the next day (after we were both up and down all night) “Mama, you don’t understand “Man Code” and that if this happened 100 years ago, we would’ve had a duel and one of us would have been shot“.  So, I felt a little better that he only had a mild concussion and promised he’d walk away next time, regardless of the names the other guys shouted at him.

I find that the same part of Benji that decided to “fight” a few weeks ago, is the same part of him who “fought” his own fears and emotions to get on a plane Saturday morning at 5:00am to fly to Haiti for two weeks to work with an mission organization there working with kids in orphanages.  The day before, Benji was diagnosed with a rare disease that has been alluding doctors and chiropractors for the past several months as they’ve tried to treat him for chronic pain in his hip.  On Friday, Benji was told he’d need to have surgery when he returned and that he’d be on crutches for the last month of his summer.  The prognosis is good, only a 10-20% chance his problem will reoccur, but as a young man who’d already started the summer with several big personal disappointments, it was tough news to swallow.  He’d go to Haiti with no pain relief and return to spend his summer in a very different way than he’d planned.  He wouldn’t be able to report for his summer job that he was excited about, no driving (truly a hardship for a 17 year old young man and for his mother!), no swimming, a huge curve ball…. you get the picture.

As they say, “to add insult to injury“, Benji’s former girlfriend was in a bad car wreck 6 hours before his flight Friday night.   Ironically, the boy he fought was driving the car when it happened, so there was a lot of emotion around all of these events leading up to his departure.  I can’t say much about this event, but I truly believe God spared their lives and pray that it’s a wake up call for our community.

Benji had been impacted by his first trip to Haiti with his school in January so much that within 48 hours of being home, he’d organized a group of 30 to return to the same place for a week. He’d also signed up for an additional week by himself hoping a few friends could go, but they weren’t able to make it.  For months, he’s told me that he couldn’t wait to get back to Haiti and that being there was his favorite place on earth.  The week before he left, it seemed like daily there were obstacles discouraging Benji from making the trip to the point that I finally clued in that there must be a higher purpose for Benji in Haiti than I ever imagined. Over and over again, (as in my own life) in my boys journeys to manhood, I’ve seen a true battle take place around them when they are at important crossroads.

So, my brave 17 year old son faced his fears head on and left Nashville by himself after an exhausting day and night.  As a mama of boys, I think it’s hard for us to understand sometimes that some of the strengths our sons carry are a mixed bag. Instead of trying to “domesticate” them to the point of emasculation by making sure they always “behave like a good little boy“, I think we need to embrace the good, bad and the ‘sometimes ugly‘ parts of their manhood.

We all know that our strengths can be weaknesses if they’re not harnessed well.  Sadly, I’ve seen too many mamas respond with the extremes of throwing their hands up in frustration and quitting or turning into drill sergeants and “micro-managing” when they have strong-willed, independent offspring.   I think it’s easier to fall off in “either ditch” then to do the hard work of training them to be who they are designed to be.  Walking the hard road avoiding the ditches requires more from us as parents.  I told my boys for years that I was going to do my job regardless of what they thought about me.  I’d hopefully be their friend and ‘consultant’ later, but right now, I’m still wearing my “Coach Mom” hat and fighting the fights worth fighting for my boys.  When they’re adults, they’ll be responsible for their choices, but until then, it’s my duty to them to stay in the game, even when I’m worn out.

Both of my sons have made plenty of mistakes and foolish choices (just like we all have), but that’s part of growing up and part of their training as young men.  Hopefully, our boys learn from their mistakes so that they’re not making “foolish youthful mistakes” as adults.  I realize more each day that we ALL face battles privately and publicly and we need all the help we can get.   How much more do our sons need grace as they’re growing and maturing into manhood?  Encourage your son today that you see WHO he is and the good that will come from his life.  He needs to hear from you as his mom that he’ll be admired and loved, that he can be brave and you’ll always be in his corner!

If you’re a mom of a boy, I’d love to invite you to our first “BoyMama weekend” coming up July 11-12 at The Nashville Treehouse.

 

June 2014

June 20, 2014 – the tough Friday

Easter Blues

photo

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a “Blue Christmas” or holiday as a single mom.  I thought I was “passed it” and prepared now after all of these years for some of the emotions that roll in around the holidays.  I have a pretty well stocked ’emotional tool box’ that I’ve pulled from since 2001 when my life took a big left turn due to divorce.

But, this past Easter weekend as I saw countless family Easter pictures and posts about “happy nests full of college kids” and “how crazy it was at Whole Foods” preparing for Sunday lunch, a few unexpected bolts of sadness hit me.  I’d prepared my heart for the fact that my oldest who is in college in California wouldn’t be able to be home, so I thought I was “good”.  I thought my youngest would be with me until we realized late in the week that we’d had a little mixup on the family calendar and he’d be at his dad’s.  Even though we worked it out and Benji met me at church on Sunday (where we shared in a great Easter service and had a nice lunch out together), Good Friday and Saturday were a bit funky for me.

As I saw pictures on facebook of young children with baskets on Easter egg hunts, I reminisced about the early years with my boys dying eggs, crazy hunts that turned into fights or tears and family photos trying to keep them from pinching each other or crying, I was sad.

Some of this was compounded by the fact that my 16 Hill cousins created a ‘secret’ facebook group and we’d all been posting pics and sharing memories of our childhoods and while it was fun, it was also bittersweet. Three of the six of my dad’s siblings are gone.  My dad’s been in heaven now for almost 10 years.  I saw some pictures of my parents that I’d never seen and pictures of my grandparents the way I remembered them.  My mom remarried a few years ago and now lives 6 hours away from me instead of 3.  This Easter weekend, she happened to be in Florida at her beach house with her new husband and his family.  While I’m happy for her, it creates a new frontier to navigate that I find folks rarely talk about.  It really affects the landscape when you’re an adult and your parent remarries late in life and moves to a new city.

Anyway, the weekend for me was full of a lot of emotions that I really didn’t expect or know exactly how to handle, other than to just feel them.

Feeling sadness is not something I’ve very good at.  For years, I was so deep in “survival mode” that I didn’t visit those places in my heart too often.  Now, that I’m back in the ‘land of the living’, I find that I have a lot of tears stored up in this 50 year old body that love to come pouring out whenever they find it necessary.  I’m comfortable with that in private but, I try not to embarrass Benji when tears pour down my face in public, like it did on Sunday during an especially moving letter that our pastor read.

All this to say, if you’re Easter was a “blue” one, you are not alone.  If yours was “picture perfect” with all of your loved ones and plenty of food on the table, but inside you were sad, you weren’t alone.  If you were “lucky enough” to truly have a peaceful day or weekend, I’m happy for you.  I find the folks who have the best ones are those who lower their expectations and see the time together regardless of what happens as a gift.

Still, even on the most glorious Easter, we’re still human and still broken… still longing for resurrection in our own lives….longing for everyone we love to be around the table.  One day we will behold Him, and we’ll be “as we long to be“.   No longer will we see through our foggy, tear-stained glasses.  I for one, can’t wait!

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I Will Always

At Stanford Fall 2013

At Stanford Fall 2013

I wrote this a few weeks ago for The Nashville Treehouse blog and thought I’d repost now that I have a better place to put it.  🙂

Recently, I saw someone’s post on facebook about a mother’s stages of “carrying her children” that caught my attention. I can’t remember it all, but it started with “carrying them in your belly” and it ended with the idea of “always carrying them in your heart”.

Last night, I had one of those times that comes to all mothers… where my heart was heavy with concern for my son. Not just because he’s on Spring Break (definitely a good time to pray!) , but because he’s navigating some tricky waters as an almost 21 year old young man. He’s a college student bombarded with all that comes to him at a very tough school, playing PAC12 football, living in a totally different world than he was raised in at his private Christian schools in Nashville Tennessee and everything else that young adults are faced with as they head into adulthood.

As I sat in my dark den late into the night praying for him, I asked God to remind me again of the promises I’ve held on to the past few years, that I’m sure I’ll hold on to for decades to come.

In the stillness, I heard those simple yet rich words echoing in my heart…. “do not be afraid“…. “fear not”…. “My peace passes all understanding” and many more familiar verses and truths. I heard enough to go to sleep in peace grateful for a God who sees and hears the prayers of a tired mama’s heart. This morning, I had countless “sacred echoes” that reminded me of His plans and purposes for my son … for his future, so I held tightly to the hope that filled my heart. As I sat in the dentist chair for 3 hours, I randomly landed on one of his favorite artist’s music and listened to some of his songs over and over again (grateful for a dentist who provides headphones that helps drown out the drill sounds!). I spent more time praying for him and asking God to speak to his heart as clearly as He speaks to mine. I wanted to find a way to let Graham know that I was praying for him, but I didn’t want to sound “preachy”.

I prayed for the words to text to Graham that would convey my love and care. I pushed SEND and was so grateful to get a text back that said “Thanks Mama. You always have that 6th sense with me. Love you.”

If Spring Break has worn you out or brought up fears for you with your teenagers or young adults, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to ask for His ‘unexplainable peace’. Whatever’s going on that has made your heart is heavy, I hope you’ll be encouraged by my sharing.

I will ALWAYS carry my sons in my heart, but I’m glad to know that One greater than me holds them in the palm of His hand.  My boys and I used to sing “the Lord is always with you, no matter what, no matter what“,  so I loved hearing from Graham that he was reminded recently that no matter where he goes or what he does, he can’t escape God’s presence.  I’m so grateful for every reminder that He really is ‘God with us‘… into the darkest night or in the deepest sea.  I’m hanging on to that too.  Peace to y’all today.

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