Tag Archives: raising boys

Guest Post: Father’s Day as a Married Man

Kimathi

This is truly a year of firsts for me and for my beloved family. My name is Kimathi Thompson. My wife Melissa, also known as Meli, and I are coming up on our first wedding anniversary this July. We went on our first family vacation to the beach a few weeks back with both of our boys. (In the past they’ve all gone with her girlfriends and another of my oldest son’s friends.) I stay back because my work schedule usually doesn’t permit me to be away for a number of days consecutively. My biological son, Journey, (almost 2 ½ years old), Meli and I have been to the beach a couple of times without my oldest son, Jyson (9 years old), because he was away visiting his biological father.

As I write this, we are all in Columbia, SC attending Meli’s father’s family reunion. This is not only a first for me and the boys, but also for Meli. Family reunions are very few and far between for many families, including ours. (The last time Meli’s dad’s family had a reunion was 30 years ago until this weekend!) Meli never attended that reunion because she was living with her mother (now deceased from cancer 27 years) in New York at the time. We are actually pretty excited to get to meet everyone and learn more about her dad’s side of the family.  It will be fun seeing the boys meet and interact with all of their cousins and great aunts and uncles for the first time.

This will actually be the first Father’s Day that I recognize Meli’s dad as my dad as well. During the goodbye part of a recent phone conversation with her dad, Meli told me he said that he loved me too, after telling her he loved her and the boys.  Needless to say, that was a first as well!  It really touched my heart to hear that he said that. Yesterday I bought him a Father’s Day card and I will give it to him the day before Father’s Day at the family reunion. We are going to head back home Saturday night to get ready for the week and relax at home as a family on Father’s Day.  It will be one of the rare days that we all get to be together without a ton of activities or me having to work.

The picture of all of us is from the first wedding that we all attended together. It was the first time Journey ever wore a tuxedo as he was the ring bearer! He was so cute and handsome and grown looking all at the same time. I was, and am, so proud to be his father (as well as Jyson’s) and I am so blessed to be received so well by Jyson as a father figure—despite the fact that he has a very good relationship with his biological father (Jise). I have never been in a relationship with the unique dynamics of sharing the role of fatherhood with someone else, being that I just had my first biological son not too long ago. However, it really helps that Jise and I actually get along rather well. When he comes down from NY to visit Jyson, he stays at our house. Jise actually loves Journey as if he was his, and it is all very confusing for anyone outside of our family. But the fact is, there is absolutely no animosity or jealousy to be found. Jise and I communicate openly about the raising of Jyson and his development as best as anyone could imagine. I know this may be hard for some to understand, but it’s critical we all get along for our boys.

Of all of the aforementioned firsts, one of the most memorable mile markers in my life is the fact that this year is my first Father’s Day as a married man.  I am so blessed to have such a beautiful, smart, and loving wife with whom I can share my marriage and boys. All of the experiences that have recently been firsts for me have been due to the fact that I am now finally married, and my wife challenges me to explore and experience things that I’m sure I would not do on my own.  Getting married to someone whom I will share the rest of my life with and raise a family with has been a lifelong dream of mine that has now finally come true!  Something that I realized while writing this blog is that all of the firsts that were mentioned would not have happened if I wasn’t married. I’m a sentimental guy, and I now have the family that I have always wanted to help me create and share sentimental memories.

To me, marriage brings a sense of permanence and dedication to the table that is only a concept if you aren’t actually in a marriage where both people have that mutual intent. As a married father, the challenges are big, but they require me to grow and stand for things that I would normally run from if I weren’t married.  Some men aren’t ready for all of the challenges, and I think the difference for me is that I rely on prayer and my faith in Yahweh to get me through the most challenging times. I also grew up with a dedicated mother and a father.

That is, up until my mother’s illness spiraled. When my mother committed suicide from bi-polar/manic depression (I was 15), for a time it felt like my dad and I were all each other had. Although my grandparents were helping out a great deal behind the scenes, my father and I were adrift, together. That has always stuck with me, and if nothing else, has fueled me to be there for Meli and the boys. What I’m trying to say is that my father’s presence in my life was magnified that much more once my mother passed.

I want my boys to grow up with the same example and sense of love of family and dedication as I grew up with. There was always a feeling of stability that came with my family because the family unit was intact up to the point where my mother died. Even after she passed, my grandparents really stepped up to give me a sense of stability that I eventually grew to know I could always turn to.  That’s not to say that they were always there to bail me out of some tough situations that I created for myself, but I always knew where to go to find love, and I always had people to answer to when I was doing wrong. That’s important when a child or young adult goes running amuck, like I once did. It always brought the reality of things back to the forefront of my life and made me realize that in order to have the family that I always wanted, I had to get myself back on track.

All of that being said, the sacrifices of raising my boys are well worth it!  Truthfully, they are investments that I am making in their future and in Meli’s and mine as well. Jyson sees our sacrifices and soon, Journey will begin to as well. My hopes and prayers are that I am passing on and instilling in them, the same foundation of love, dedication, and stability that I grew up knowing and drawing from when I need inspiration. This first Father’s Day as a married man signifies the beginning of my dreams come true. Now I have so many more awesome experiences and firsts to come, due to the fact that I am a happily married man and a proud father of two beautiful young men!

Life Lessons for this LA Mom and her Boys

I stumbled upon this wonderful article “25 Things I Want My Ranch Kids To Know”. You’d think I’d have little in common with this ranching family. But as I read through her list, I realized how universal so much of what she has to say is. I found myself tweaking her vernacular for my now Calif. kids. For instance, her #2: “Boredom is a Choice” I adored and in my mind I changed from: “If you can’t entertain yourself with a stick and a bucket full of calf nuts, we’re doing something wrong” to: “If you can’t entertain yourself with a surfboard/boogie board or a bikeride…I’m doing something wrong.”

Life in California—especially in a Southern California beach town—is dreamy for kids. Or so it should be. We have gorgeous stretches of sandy beaches, strewn with volleyball nets and a strand for bikers to ride safely for miles. Our town has plenty of parks and violent crime is low. We literally have beautiful weather nearly year-round.  Yet, my oldest cares more about video games than a day at the beach. Getting him to ride his bike or skate board or kick a soccer ball with his buds in the alley (we live in a beach house without a yard, but share an alley with loads of families with kids) takes an olympic effort. He’d rather stay inside and play Minecraft. So I bought a pingpong table and that’s helping a bit.

That’s just one issue I’m battling right now. Some days it seems that there just isn’t enough of me. I need at least two clones in order to be a better parent. I’m guilty of juggling my two boys and their drastically differing needs (and of course the loud three-year-old tends to get most of the attention) with other issues such as work and any social life. I’m not always there for both of them the way I’d like to be. (I’m sure my single parent friends and readers empathize with this feeling!) So, I’m inspired to come up with my own list that I hope will help my boys become sensitive and caring men—regardless of being raised in LaLa land!

Mom’s Top Life Lessons:

1. It’s okay to get angry, but it’s not okay to hit.
Life isn’t meant to be fair. You are guaranteed to get disappointed and frustrated when things don’t go your way. It’s okay to punch a pillow, talk with a friend or write in a journal about your disappointments. Hitting your brother, your friend or your mother is never ok.

2. Stand up for yourself.
Don’t go looking for trouble, as my mom used to say, but if someone is bullying you or threatening you, you have every right to stand up for yourself. Tell the person to stop, and/or get a teacher if it becomes violent. If that makes it worse for you, remember, bullies are weak. They thrive on putting other people down. Do not believe a word that person says about you and please tell me about the situation. I’ll always listen. I’ll always be in your corner. Remember you’re own worth. You should never put up with abuse.

3. Be kind.
Always think about how your words and actions affect others. If someone at school is annoying you, or if a friend starts gossiping about another kid, try your hardest not to say anything nasty or join in on the gossip. Putting other people down does not make you look better. Find other ways to deal with it. Think about how you would feel if you were that other kid.

4. It’s okay to make mistakes. (And don’t be too proud to apologize.)
We don’t always do everything the way we intend to. If you over-react or say something rash, just apologize. It’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is usually all you need to do to make things better.

5. You are special because of who you are: not what you have.  
Just because some neighbors and friends have more expensive toys than you, does NOT make them better. You are kind, smart, caring, loving, creative, curious, fun and inventive. These things aren’t created by owning a huge flat screen T.V. or a swimming pool.

6. Pursue your passions.
Sure, you’d like to vacation in Hawaii and drive a sports car one day—but don’t pursue a career just because it earns a lot of money. Do something that sparks your interest. If you love science or history, keep studying that in college and find a career that incorporates your passions. You’ll never regret being happy on the job and you’re more likely to be successful.

7. Be a team player.
It’s just as important to block a goal as it is to make one. You’re not always going to be the player who makes the most goals or baskets. But that’s okay if you’re giving it your all, supporting your teammates and HAVING FUN.

8. Don’t curse like a sailor.
Sure, sometimes things slip when angry, but don’t make a habit of cursing. It’s crude, rude and makes you look unintelligent.

9. Be Confident and Don’t Give In To Peer Pressure.
Just because some surfers are getting high every day before and/or after school, doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for you. And drinking and driving is NEVER Okay. I love you. Call me and I’ll always come get you or pay for a cab.

10. Don’t lie.
We all tell those white lies occasionally, such as: “thanks for inviting me,” even if you didn’t have a good time. But don’t lie about the big stuff and especially not to your mom. She’ll always listen and try to help you—even if you are in trouble. She will never stop loving you. You will always have a home here, no matter what you do. So don’t be afraid to tell her if something’s gone wrong or you’re in a bad situation.  She’s made mistakes too and can help.

11. Always be Courteous to Parents.
Say “nice to meet you,” shake hands, and look parents in the eyes when you are visiting a friend’s house. Do not EVER just walk into a friend’s room when you are teenager without addressing the friend’s parents. When you leave, say, “Nice to see you again,” or “Thanks for having me Mr. & Mrs. so and so.” Good manners NEVER go out of style.

12. Don’t Settle.
Remember that true beauty comes with integrity, intelligence and kindness (a sense of humor is a plus too!). If the gal you like is gorgeous, but is lacking in these other qualities, move on.

13. Focus on Gratitude.
By now you’re sick of hearing me ask you to say what you’re thankful for each night at bedtime, but keep doing it. Letting your mind drift towards what is good in your life, instead of what is bad, brings more good to you AND helps you feel safe and happy.

14. Meditation Isn’t For Sissies.
Staying active is great, but finding a way to connect your mind a body through your breath, reduces your stress and allows you to think calmly about your goals and intentions for your life. The sooner you learn this, the better off you’ll be. Sit still for five minutes each night or morning and focus on deep breathing while you let your mind drift to a positive, relaxing location.

15. Eat Something Fresh and Green Every Day.
The secret to staying healthy is avoiding junk food and remembering the simple rule of eating raw fruit and something green every day.

16. Get Lost in a Good Book.
There’s really nothing like finding yourself transfixed by a good book. In today’s hectic world where everyone multitasks, I will know I’ve done a good job if both of you can find yourself, at some point every year, lost in a marvelous novel.