The Motherhood Series: Motherhood and Aging

I count it a privilege to sit with our guests for the fifth installment of The Motherhood series! These women have been more than instrumental in pouring into me for over a decade! They’ve shown me how to love my spouse, mother my children, and serve the body of Christ.

Kristi West and Angela Smith have been friends for over 41 years! That’s longer than I’ve been alive. They’ve raised children together, homeschooled together and have walked out this motherhood journey with grace and faith. This is why I saw no other reason than to sit at their feet and drink deeply from their spring. I invite you now to hear from these women who I affectionately call “My Homeschool Gurus”!

Please share a little about your life as a mother:

K: I’m the mother of three adult children, ages 28, 33 and 34. When my kids were young, I taught the homeschool Kindergarten classes in a group Angela and I were apart of.

A: I’m a mother of two adult children, ages 29 and 30. I’ve been married for 33 years and my children grew up with Kristi’s.

Where do you see yourself fitting in right now in the mother-child relationship?

A: I see myself as a counselor advisor and supporter. I still try to be there for them. It changes because you don’t have as much control on what they do. You can’t forbid them, but you try to guide them and persuade them…I do a lot of praying!

K: I think my place right now is I do a lot of praying! I’ll have specific scriptures for each of my children. I pray for God to work in their lives. Its not so much telling them what to do but rather, I try to be a sounding board. Dump it all on me, the good, the bad the irritation…that’s what I feel like sometimes and I have three of them and when they all do it one after the other, I sometimes need someone to dump on!

Sometimes its listening and saying, “I’m going to pray for you.” And then sometimes its throwing out a question and saying, “This is for you to consider.” I have to remember they’re adults. Anytime I talk to them, I hear my sister and friend, Erica, saying, “Ms. Kristi, they grown women!” I can hear her voice in my head. I will freeze and I go, “They grown!”

What do you want most from your children now that they are adults?

K: I really want them to understand they were put here for a higher purpose other than to be happy. God placed them here for something bigger than themselves, its not about their job or career but how they make Christ look good to the world. That’s my mantra. 

I also tell them they belong to Jesus, they belong to God. I think as an adult if they get that they belong to God and what God created is good, then they can weather the good or bad through it all. I want them to know that whatever God hands them is a good thing and they belong to God. 

A: I want them to be faithful to Jesus and to seek him. As a parent, we don’t really know what the will of the Lord is for their lives. We don’t know what avenues He has for them. But you want them to be faithful to Him and to seek His face. You’re always hoping that besides all your mistakes they will still communicate with you. I want communication with them. I would like to know how they’re doing, that I’m still a landing place for them and a place of comfort and stability.

Another thing Kristi and I pray is that if its God’s will for them to marry that they’d have godly spouses. We do so much more praying. We pray about how to approach them now because we can’t lecture them or pounce on them. We have to ask them the right questions. 

How have you adapted to the shift in the role you now play in the mother-child relationship?

A: It was gradual. It was hard at first, I learned through my mistakes. I expected them to have a mature mind set of thinking the way I did when they were about 18, but for them it took a little longer until they were about 25. I also had to learn how to not pounce and them and go at it from a certain approach. I had to pray about how to approach them. Sometimes they’d demand to be treated like adults one day and then, they’d act another way the next. As I went through that transition, I had to learn from my mistakes — how to listen, how to be quiet and how to keep the communication. I also try to respect them as a person. 

The truth is, they’re now trying to take care of us. For instance, they bought us a freezer…they’ve had an attitude of wanting to help us. They consider our future now. 

K: The idea that I was going to be a single mom, raising my children by myself used to be hard for me. We [their father and I] were supposed to stay married but that was that. Because of this, my children have been leaving me every other weekend, since my oldest was one. I’ve had to shift from being the mother that always had them around me to releasing them. To ensure they were safe, I they learned to swim. And I shifted to teaching the older two they needed to keep an eye on the youngest.

I’ve had to watch them develop out of my control for a long time. I cannot tell you how hard it was in the beginning. Until a Christian woman from across the street came and talked to me and said, “You have to stop. God is keeping them.”

As they’ve gotten older, its become easier to deal with. Someone recently asked me if I was sad that I was an empty nester now, but my response was, “They’ve been coming and going their whole lives.” 

They now have also been trying to care of me more, too. They have a Google doc with plans for how they’re going to take care of me in the future. Now I have to be prayerful and ask Jesus for help to be okay with this. I can’t be upset that they’re looking ahead. Its hard to accept because I’m used to taking care of myself…I’m not 70 yet!!! But, I don’t have a “two-some” to plan out my retirement. So my children are in tune with this need. 

If given the opportunity to do it all over again what one lesson would you teach your children? 

K: I’d teach them stewardship…biblical stewardship. To be better stewards of their talents, money, time…etc. Raising them myself, I was always trying to take care of things alone. Looking back, I would have made a financial plan and said even though we don’t have any money, we still must plan out how God wants us to steward our money.

They were involved in all kinds of lessons. But we didn’t zero in on stewardship and finances. The truth is I don’t like that subject. I would’ve allowed there to be a better balance. I say, let’s do all the creative things, but also make sure we’re concerned with financial stewardship too.

A: I wish I would’ve given them more time to be more creative, musically. I wish I could’ve helped them embrace creativity with music and gymnastics. I didn’t pursue that as much. So much of our focus was on academics and homeschooling. I would’ve made it a priority to arrange it.

What lesson about motherhood weren’t you ready to learn when your children were young that you are ready to learn now? 

A: When they’re young, you do have anxieties, you think you’re trusting God. But you’re also wondering how your child is going to turn out. I started off so crazy, when I went to my oldest’s first homeschool evaluation. The lady said, “You’re going to be burnt out. Stop. Take you time, your oldest is going to be a teacher to your younger child.” 

Also, putting them in God’s hands. You may think you’re doing that but when they’re younger. But now I’m more ready to do that because I have to. Now I have to put so much in God’s hands because I don’t have control. 

K: Back then, I didn’t want to hear that my children would have to go through all they had to go through. They were innocent. In my plans, they were supposed to be “Christian” and now they were having to see and hear things that I felt “Christian” children shouldn’t have to. They wouldn’t have the family unit that I thought they would have. It was what I thought would make them whole.

I wasn’t trying to understand the bigger picture God was going to do. When my kids were young, I was like, “This needs to be prayed back to what it should be — a mother/father family unit. Not a single mother trying to raise her children.

But God in his richness and mercy!

Psalm 130. That was my depths then. I wasn’t all happy and saying “Praise the Lord!” But now, I can look back and I can see what Jesus used their brokenness for and all that they went through. They have ministered to people who have their own brokenness!

All I can say now is, “Thank you Jesus, your grace is sufficient for me.”

How do you respond when you know the choices your adult children are making may lead to pain?

A: My husband and I pray that God will intervene and they will change their minds. We pray for opportunities to approach them and how to speak about it or address it. We pray for open communication so we can influence them. We have to say something but we have to watch our approach. You really do have to warn them. But instead of being anxious or demanding, we pray. That makes the ground for whether or not they’re going to listen.

K: There are times where I’ll say to myself, “They’re adults.” And I let them figure it out. But then there are times I’ll say, “I’m going to assume the position of a spiritual mother instead of a physical mother.” I look at what’s going to cause them soul pain…I look at the eternity piece, instead of having my mother emotions take over.

Sometimes I’ve had to back up and say, “They don’t belong to me, they’re God’s.” But, if its going to cause me pain, I warn them, but I don’t nag. There have been times where I tell them, “That hurt my feelings. What you are doing right now is slapping me in the face.” I let them know that and then I back up. I’ve even directly talked to them about my own testimony. That’s helped them to understand where I’m coming from and that I’m not just making this stuff up. I will say, “This is what happened to me when I did what you are about to do.” 

What has been your greatest joy on your motherhood journey?

K: I have joy when my children do things like send me a sermon and say, “This was really good.” When they say, “I don’t mind you saying what you have to say to me, that’s fine.” When I see them saying, “Can you pray for me?” Or “I was talking to this person about Jesus…”

‘Cause you don’t always know what’s going on with them. But then you’ll hear them say they’re doing a Bible study at work or they’re going to a life group. It makes you realize they are pursuing Jesus.

God has got them. 

A: What gives me joy is seeing the results of the travel of my soul. All the work, the sacrifice, the trying husband and I really trying not to compromise over the years. When they come back and start admitting things that I did right in raising them. The positive of them being parented. Mainly in them following the Truth…being committed to Jesus. That’s my greatest joy.

I can’t keep or protect them. And as you make mistakes along the way, you’re not always sure. But little children grow up. If they are committed to Jesus and as I see their faith grow, I know that God was using me all along.

It was so refreshing for me to spend over an hour talking, laughing and reflecting with these amazing women and mothers. I truly thank you both for taking the time to drop some of the nuggets you’ve picked up along the way. I am a living witness to the fruit of your labors in faithfulness to your call to motherhood!

Her children stand and bless her.” Proverbs 31:28

And thank you all for reading!

As we near the end of The Motherhood Series, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all the mothers who’ve allowed to enter into their journey. Join us back next week for the conclusion to this series when we discuss Motherhood and Friendship!



P.S. To see the rest of The Motherhood series, check previous posts out here:

Motherhood Discipleship, Motherhood and Networking, Motherhood and Singleness, Motherhood and Marriage, Motherhood and Suffering

Published by Courtney B. Dunlap

Christ follower. Wife. Mother. Friend. Writer...and excited to grow! I believe there's a need for more down-to-earth online spaces in which moms like you and me and anyone else in-between can explore the in's and out's of homeschooling free from competition yet rich with encouragement. My hope is that all that you find here will provide just that!

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