I saw Oprah today. This is rare for me because I don’t usually watch Oprah. She has achieved a god-like status and its a just a little bit disgusting. I must be the only stay at home mom who doesn’t regularly watch Oprah.
I watched her interview the cast of Dreamgirls on Monday (gasp), so I knew she was going to have Will Smith on her show today to talk about his new movie coming out, The Pursuit of Happyness. First of all, I love me some Will Smith. Second, I love me some Will and Jada. In Hollywood where all the marriages crumble after two years, Will and Jada are still going strong after almost ten years. I will be really sad if they ever divorce. You don’t see too many strong couples of color in Hollywood.
So I have been anticipating this movie ever since I saw it on 20/20. Wow. It looks awesome. Ten minutes into Oprah, I’m already getting all emotional and teary-eyed. I don’t know, I just felt it deep in my heart…the struggle this single father had after his wife left and he determined to be there for his son and raise him, even though they were poor and homeless. They stayed in a shelter while the dad (Chris Gardner) worked as an unpaid intern for a stock brokerage firm. Will’s real son Jaden plays his son in the movie and he talked about how it made the movie more real for him because he could really visualize being that dad sitting on the bathroom floor of the subway, holding his son while he slept because they had no other place to go.
What really moved me about this story was Chris Gardner himself. He came from a very dysfunctional home where his father left the family and his mother was regularly abused by his stepfather. But his desire was to break the chain of abandonment by a father. He said that despite the fact that they were homeless, they were always together and he knew of families that had millions whose children couldn’t remember the last time they spent time with their parents. He son, now grown, said he had no memories of being without a home…he just remembered his dad and always being with him.
That really struck a cord with me because I really struggle with what I can’t provide for my kids. Its tough living on one income. Sometimes its downright scary. I doubt my decision to stay home and raise my kids all the time. I could provide so much more for them if only I worked. I could take them out to lunch every Sunday after church. I could buy them each their own Heely’s. New toys, trips to the movies…these are just silly things off the top of my head.
Let me clarify that deep down I know staying home is the right choice, its just when my children don’t have the same things other children do, I really question myself. Take last night, for example. On our way to pick up my stepson, we pulled over to take Maya to the restroom. We ran into Best Buy. Noah walked in with us, in awe of all the huge TVs, Ipods, video game consoles, the dvds, etc. I just knew he was thinking, why don’t we have a TV like this? We don’t even have a working remote! Why can’t we have cable? Some things just had to be trimmed off our monthly budget. How come I can’t have a PS2? And a Gameboy Advance? He didn’t ask me any of those questions, but I was feeling so guilty he might as well have. I’m so blind sometimes that I can’t see how my children are developing character in lean times. When Noah realizes he can’t just ask Mama and Daddy for something he wants, he figures out a way to get it. He calls up his uncle and asks him if he needs help cleaning his yard. He walked up to our elderly neighbor Gerry and explained to him how he was starting a new business and all it would take is $20 for a car wash. Just last weekend at our 777 outreach, Noah saw a business opportunity…when he realized all those Monster cans were just sitting in the trash, he grabbed a bag and started digging for cans to recycle. And if all else fails, he can go to his Grandma-mama and she will buy it for him. Hey, a kid has to have options.
I really struggle with the fact that I want to give my kids stuff so they can know they are loved. You want to give gifts to those you love sometimes. But I know, in my right mind, that stuff doesn’t matter. Being here with them everyday matters, making meals for them, teaching them, snuggling up on the sofa watching Cars with them is what matters. Its strange, how we take things for granted. Staying home with them has become so familiar to all of us that I don’t see it for what it really is, a blessing.
Lord, help me to clearly see the privilege it is to stay home and mother my children on a daily basis. Your Word says You will supply all our need according to His riches and glory. Please help me to be faithful.
God is good. He brings real life examples to stress a point to me. I ran into a family Michael and I used to go to church with tonight at Stater Bros. They had four young daughters and lived on a tight budget–driving an old car, struggling to pay for braces and shoes that constantly needed replacing. Their girls were sweet, intelligent, they helped with the smaller children, they dressed modestly and by the world’s standards, were pretty simple. Their aunt also attended the same church with her two daughters (their cousins). They were very spoiled with their regular mani/pedis, their cell phones, their expensive clothes, their highlighted hair, etc. I know this isn’t going to represent every family, and this is an extreme example so bear with me…but where are these young girls today? The first family’s daughters go to college, they work various jobs to support themselves and help out their family. The second family went down a very hard road. One of their daughters left her husband and baby and was addicted to crystal meth. Their younger daughter also got hooked on speed, but is thankfully in rehab now. To me, it just showed how the first family survived just fine even though the parents couldn’t give them everything they wanted like the second family. Those poor girls never got a chance to develop any character, any work ethic because mom and dad were there to give them everything they wanted.
Its stories like this one and Chris Gardner’s that give me some hope that I am doing the right thing…that I’m not depriving my kids…and that I’m living out the conviction that God placed in my heart over nine years ago, the day I found out I was expecting my first baby. I know that being home with my kids isn’t a guarantee of anything, but I am still grateful for the privilege.