Wild Things: The Art of Nuturing Boys with David Thomas

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I’d love to share “ALL THINGS DAVID THOMAS”  with you today, so you can get to know a little about a man who is not only an amazing counselor, author, speaker and expert on boys, but truly one of my heroes!  If you don’t know David and his work, hopefully this introduction can help you with resources that help you understand a boy in your family better. Whether you’re a mom (or a grandmother) of a boy ages 2-22, David can help!

I found a few goodies today that I want to share.First is a link to download an excerpt of Wild Things:The Art of Nuturing Boys. It’s “hands down” the best resource that I know of for a mom of a boy.  I also found a video clip on YouTube from a few years ago where David tells a little about the book.  If you don’t have time to watch all of it, I’d love to encourage you to listen to a few minutes starting at 2:33 where David explains why understanding our sons matters.

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Years ago, I attended a parenting seminar that was invaluable to me as a mom that Daystar Counseling held in Nashville featuring David who was my son’s counselor at the time. For years, David has walked through extremely challenging events with my family.  There were really difficult seasons in our journey that he was truly a ‘lifeline’ for us.  At other times, he was more like an older brother to my now young adult sons.   As a mom, I told people for years that David is a huge reason I’m sane after parenting two boys as a single mom for over 15 years.  In all seriousness on several occasions, I’ve said “should he ever need a kidney, I would gladly give him one of mine“….. that’s how much I owe him.

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2009 photo Kim, Graham & David 

All that to say, we have benefited greatly as a family from David’s work and his life and it is a huge honor for me to be able to share him with a handful of BoyMamas at the events I host at The Nashville Treehouse.  David is an “in-demand” parenting expert and I still pinch myself when I invite him to come and he answers, ‘yes’!  If you can’t make it to Nashville to our October 7-8 event, I’d encourage you to follow him at Raising Boys and Girls to find out about other speaking events around the country and their new book releasing soon.

I’m headed to see the last high schooler in my family, my nephew Drew, play football tonight.  I’ll get to cheer for my alma mater, Evangelical Christian School (Memphis) and Drew here in Nashville. Have a great weekend!

PS. If you don’t have the book yet, click below to order it today!

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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

Especially for BoyMamas of Seniors

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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 

worst blogger award goes to….

Well, so much for my attempt at blogging once a week! I think it’s been almost 2 months since my last post. Leaves are covering my deck and driveway as fall and October are coming upon us quickly here in Nashville.

I know, like me, many of you are overwhelmed by the events around the world that are like nothing we’ve known. I think that’s partially why I haven’t written. In the midst of some incredibly disturbing times, we have to keep going on with our lives in our little corners of the world. The anniversary of 9/11 and so much of what’s going on across the globe weighs on us in ways that I don’t think we’re even aware of. In cities like Ferguson, MO and in my hometown of Memphis fear and hopelessness are knocking louder and louder at our doors.

It’s unthinkable that while we were dumping ice on ourselves, Christians were being slaughtered. Tomorrow marks two years that Pastor Saeed remains in prison and in danger. It’s all too much to wrap our hearts and minds around on most days. Yet, we wake up to another sunrise on another day and look for reasons to hope while love those who come our way. Even though I try speaking out and doing what I can to stand against the evil that’s raging, I still have a helpless feeling as I watch it all on the news.

As I sat down to write on a perfect day in Nashville, I’m reminded of some of the “big moments” I’ve had as a mom the past 6 weeks against the backdrop of such heaviness.  I know that trying to “catch up” is pretty hard to do….it’s like trying to go back and fill in your journal, yet another place I’ve never been consistent in writing!

I’ve already been to California twice to see my son as the starting Center for Stanford. That first snap in the first game was pretty surreal for me. I don’t know when I’ll get used to seeing him on the field or on national television. I decorated our living room in so much Stanford swag for the second game that Benji made fun of me.  FYI, My tv is not this big, this was done using a projector on the wall.  This doesn’t look so crazy, but believe me, if you saw the dining room and the foyer, you may agree with Benji that I went a little over the top!

Stanford vs USC game on ABC

Stanford vs USC game on ABC

Benji’s almost fully recovered from his surgery and has some exciting opportunities on the horizon that I’ll hopefully be able to share next time.  The Nashville Treehouse is growing and brings more joy to my heart than I would’ve ever imagined.  In the midst of that we’ve lost members of our community and heard the news that the cancer is back with a loved one. Another reminder that life is such a mixed bag… it’s so bittersweet most of the time.

So, I wanted to at least write something today for those of you who’ve connected with me here. I have a simple truth to share with you that I’m sure is a reminder to most of you, but as I’m nearing the end of my “child rearing” days with my boys, I’m more and more convinced that the years I poured my life into them matter. Those years in the trenches…. THEY COUNT!!! Hang in there!!!!

As I watch from a VIP seat, I see my sons move towards their own journeys as young men. I’m becoming more of a “consultant” and especially with my 21 year old, learning to have an adult friendship with him.  Especially with Graham, my job as a mama is becoming simplified in many ways after almost 22 years.

A few weeks ago before I said goodbye to him in Palo Alto, I sat with him at breakfast and talked to him about how much I love him and believe in him with tears streaming down my face.  I was grateful that we had a seat that no one could really see me because as hard as I tried, I couldn’t stop the tears.  My job at this point is to speak life to him about who he is and to love him unconditionally regardless of whether or not I agree with all of his choices.  Strangely enough, it’s getting easier and easier to do.  As I tried to explain to him, the more I trust God with him, the more peace I have and the more pure love I feel for him that is not tied to anything that he does or doesn’t do.  As simple as it is, it’s always a huge reminder for me that if I can love my son that way, how much more does God love me that way and give me grace to love those around me? “Perfect love casts out fear” takes on a whole new meaning for me these days and as Rob Bell and Bob Goff both so eloquently say… “Love Wins” and “Love Does”!

So, love everybody you can today!

PS. Check out my “BoyMama Weekend” video and please consider joining us at The Nashville Treehouse in a few weeks!

https://vimeo.com/105068786

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