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.


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There are 14 comments

  1. Amanda

    you brought tears to my eyes. i am so greatful to be able to stay home with my family. what a blessing! thank you for being such a great mom.

  2. geektom

    You are awesome Denise! We have had made a decision to go to one income starting Jan. 1 and it is indeed very scary. Don’t get distracted by the “skubalen”– you are creating 7 amazing people who will have treasures untold in Heaven. Plus, if you DID go to work, can you imagine the daycare cost? Oy! You might not even break even, and it certainly would not be worth the heartache.

  3. Shoney Baloney

    you staying home with your kids is SO much more important than them having tons of stuff. i’ve heard before…just when you think your kids are at the age where you think they don’t “need you” as much, that’s when they need you even more (did that make sense?). anyways, being able to stay home with your kids is a huge blessing, i’m so thankful that i’m able to stay home with my girls too. by the way, you sound like a great mom!

  4. RickyG

    That’s for the gringos. What happened to Christina or Laura!? Don’t tell me you also watch “Days of Our Lives”?!
    Seriously, you shouldn’t have gotten me started on this subject! I cannot stand when people say “We can’t afford for mom to stay at home”. Really?! Then adjust! Sell some toys, move into a smaller home, move to another state. You cannot afford not to! If you don’t want to be a mom and want to continue being a career woman then don’t spread your legs and have kids!!! It might have felt good during sex but have you asked your kids how it feels to be without a parent for 8 hours just because mom “needs” (actually wants) to work?! Of course, this doesn’t apply to single moms who really need to work. I also don’t take the excuse of “well, I didn’t know he/she wanted to have a career”. What is dating for? Shouldn’t this question come up before marriage?!
    I am very grateful that Amanda wanted to be a mom 24/7 not just after work. I don’t say lucky because this was a subject we discussed before getting married and popping the kids out! If you don’t want to raise your kids, than don’t have any! Daycare workers are just there to earn a paycheck not to be your kid’s parents. If you are a husband and don’t want your wife to stop working because you will lose the extra income, don’t be a pansy and step up to the plate. Work two jobs if you have to for a while. Like I said, don’t get me started (taking a deep breath).
    Anyway, I remember my mom helping my dad make ends meet by selling AVON or putting together flower arrangement but she never had a job that required her to be away and she always included us. I remember sorting the cosmetics and helping her pick the flowers from the flower shops (hummmm, that explains many things) and those were some of the funniest memories I have with mom. I also remember looking things that other friends had in their home (toys, electronics, etc) and being somewhat envious and didn’t understand. Now, I appreciate everything I have because it wasn’t easy to get and I am going to teach my kids the same thing. Plus, I still have both of my parents (together), those other kids don’t. That my friend is one of the best examples for my kids.
    Man, this could have been a whole blog post in itself. I am out!

  5. Amanda

    he’s a little passionate about the subject, can you tell. i agree with him 100% and that has caused some tension in a few relationships, but for us me staying at home was and always will be the only option. god has blessed us in so many ways and we dont intend to pretend we have it all or have it all figured out, but this is what works for us and are grateful for the oppertunitys god has given us.

  6. Pearmama

    Ok, so I know what not to talk about next time we go out for sushi.

    Ricky, I totally agree with you that this subject is not to be taken lightly and should really be discussed by husband and wife before they decide to have a family–no, before they even get married! I remember when my mom was married and could stay home…those are some of my best memories. Then when she divorced and had to work, I knew she still loved me and cared for me but…she was tired all the time, grumpy, stressed. She was a single mom but she pulled it off. Its tough to tell someone they should stay home to take care of their kids because that is the *best* decision for them and moms are the *best* candidate to care for their children all day long. I’ve gotten into many an argument about that and the bottom line is, I can only speak for my own family, my own situation and the convictions God has placed on my heart. I know my kids are still happy without *stuff* but in this society where stuff equates love…its tough. But I’m gonna be okay. I swear.

    Oh, and I was the thinking the same thing about the cosmetics and flower arranging. :)>

  7. DJ RickyG

    Yeah, I quit telling people what the best thing for their family should be. I guess they’ll realize in a few years when their kids are older. Who knows, they might prove me and Dr Laura wrong. But if you ask me, then watch out because I’ll tell you how I really feel and if you are one of those people that pounds their kids at day care, you might not like me very much. Oh well.

    And I didn’t even mention that my mom also had to make wedding cakes. I helped decorate them!!!!! Ha,ha,ha

    I guess people can always say, “don’t you tell me how to raise my kids!!! Look how you turned out! you cake decorator, flower arranger you!” Ha,ha,ha

  8. Anonymous

    hey dee, if memory serves me correct, your mom didn’t stay home with josh and he turned out to be a pretty good kid who got all the trendy ‘things’ that kids have these days.
    your cuz,

  9. Anonymous

    Diana, I think Denise was at home for Josh. So she kind of took the role, and that explains why he so close to Dee. Plus he always had someone to pick him up from school no matter the time or reason. Still though Josh lives in the Kennedy a compound. He isn’t confined to a 2 bedroom apartment. Like some of us beaners were. Well, let me speak for myself. My mother was a stay at home Mom and I still turned out to be a mischevious character. To sum up my 2 cents, stay home or not if you don’t contribute or find someone who can contribute the same nurturing a righteous Mom should give to a child. Your child is subject to the influences of a fallen world with no guidance to flee from it’s influences. Be a righteous Mom following Christ and He will make your paths straight at home or at work. Again, the bottom line follow Christ and not the influences of this world in regards to raising your child. Denise and I have chosen to follow Christ in regards to our child rearing and He led us to 1 parent at home for His purpose. Whether it be her or I and she won the coin toss so it’s her.
    Lyrical777 (Mike)

  10. Pearmama

    Diana…I know this is a tough one to debate considering you work full-time and still have a very intelligent and happy little girl. I know you love her and want the best for her. I love my kids and want the best for them, too. We decided the best for them is that I stay home with them. As for Josh…you know he had a unique arrangement as he was growing up. Since he was a “late in life” baby for my mom, they were much more established financially then when we were kids. Mom and Ernie worked their hours so that either one or the other was home with Josh…and when one couldn’t be there I was there to fill in the gap. Thats why I never worked my first years in college because I always had to be there to take care of him. Then if I wasn’t there, Nana took care of him. He has always been cared for by family. I think that is why he has grown up the way he has. And I always tell him his butt is lucky he’s got a family with an intact family and two incomes…that means vacations, extracurricular activities in school, new shoes, Guess watches, and a new car when he gets his license. My point is, yes he’s never wanted for anything but he has always been cared for by family.

    ps. Don’t rip me a new one–we family, girl!!

  11. Anonymous

    it wasn’t meant as a rip, i am just trying to point out that not all mother’s who work have horrible children and vice versa. i wasn’t really ripping on your blog it was just some of the comments left by others. i believe every situation is unique and people should not judge others and their circumstances, that is why we have our heavenly father.
    your cuz,

    ps i wasn’t ripping on you, i love reading your blogs girl!! ­čÖé

  12. Amanda

    i think this is why i get so anxious when this subject comes up. my husband has very strong feelings on this subject for a reason, we have seen kids neglected because of there parents jobs and he is pasionate for that reason. i love him dearly, but he puts it out there and likes to stir the pot.

  13. Pearmama

    Diana, I know…that is why I can only speak for myself and my family.

    I know you weren’t ripping my butt, I was just kidding! I love you and miss mikayla!

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