Are you the mother of a preschooler or an infant? Have you thought about finding a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group?
In a couple weeks I’ll be starting my fourth year in MOPS, and I have to tell you, it has been awesome.
Here’s why I’m a MOPS mama, and why you may want to become one, too.
1. This parenting thing? It is haaaaaaard.
When my husband and I were discerning whether to pursue vocations as a “Clergy Couple” (the Presbyterian term for a husband-and-wife ministry team), we talked to an experienced Clergy Couple to learn about their experience.
Their first bit of advice to us wasn’t about what we thought it might be – keeping good home/church boundaries, managing time well, or even getting along with one another during stressful seasons.
Their first suggestion was this: “Decide between the two of you that whoever was home with the kids had the harder day.” I asked them to elaborate.
“Well,” said the wife, “whichever parent spent the day at church might have had a really stressful board meeting, but whatever happened at home was harder. I mean, the meeting may have been contentious, but did anyone poop on the floor at the board meeting?”
My husband and I have two kiddos and another on the way, and our current little guys are easy. No major behavioral issues. No serious health complications. But being at home with them? 99% of the time it’s harder than being at the office where I’m in control of my space and my body, where people don’t fall apart into unpredictable tantrums, where I can take ten minutes to think through a problem, where no one orders macaroni and cheese for lunch and then immediately dumps it on the floor.
2. We all need reminders that we aren’t alone.
Think of all the lonely parenting moments you face in a given week.
There’s the 4am feeding where the whole world is asleep except for you and junior, and junior just spit up all over you.
There’s the driving. To the doctor. To the store. To school. Back to the store. To the park. It’s you, the small people in the backseat, and Veggie Tales on the stereo. Wheeee…
There’s the exhaustion. You want to connect with your spouse but you are So Tired. You’d love to reach out to a friend for a night out, but it’s 7:15pm and bed is already calling your name.
At MOPS you just show up and you’re immediately surrounded by a group of women who get it. You’ve all dragged yourselves there together in various stages of infant/toddler/preschool life, dropped off the kids, and grabbed a cup of coffee. And suddenly you’re not alone.
With your kiddos in preschool or MOPPETS (MOPS’ awesome childcare program), you can even drink it while it’s still warm!
MOPS brings in speakers from a variety of areas of expertise. Many of them bring in the encouragement of the Gospel. It’s such a helpful reminder that you aren’t alone, not just because there are women surrounding you to share the burdens of motherhood, but because Jesus is down in the trenches with you, too.
5. Surprising lessons.
I’ve learned generosity from the women at my table. I’ve learned the value of a kind note, the importance of a thoughtful question, the strength of a well-timed offer of help. I’ve learned that they like me just as much when I’m on my A-game as when I’ve barely crawled into the room with my sanity intact. They’ve taught me grace.
From the speakers I’ve learned about topics ranging from toddler tantrums to finding Jesus in Advent to creating marital bliss to creative date nights to what mothers-in-law really think.
6. Mentor moms.
Mentor moms are women whose children are grown, who offer prayers and advice and wisdom. Mentor moms are the best.
7. The magical take-it-or-leave-it table.
Some MOPS groups choose to set up a table where moms can leave things (clothing, books, toys) their kids have outgrown so other moms can pick them up for free. It’s so great to see our son’s hand-me-downs go to good new homes, and I cannot tell you how fun it is to grab a new maternity shirt or parenting book from time to time.
Our group donates the table’s leftovers to a local women’s charity at the end of each MOPS gathering, too. Win-win.
8. A break from the kiddos.
You go to MOPS. They go to childcare. You get to finish a sentence and enjoy a couple of hours without being spit up on, asked for a snack, or needed to wipe a bottom.
If your kiddos are newborns and too young for childcare, you’d better believe there will be dozens of hands willing to hold them for a bit while you fix your coffee.
9. Nourishment for body and soul.
There’s food. There are speakers. There are friends. There is coffee. No one will judge you if you didn’t shower or you fall asleep on the table.
10. Mommy friends.
A huge percentage of my California girlfriends have come from MOPS. You bond quickly with women over coffee, rest, deep questions, and a similar parenting phase. From MOPS we’ve branched out into playdates, girls’ nights, baby showers, and small group Bible studies.
We’ve offered to sleep on each others’ couches, to nurse sick kiddos, to pray for the big things and the small. Motherhood can be isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. MOPS is a great antidote to the isolation that new parenthood can bring.
Have you thought about joining a MOPS group? Why or why not?
To find a MOPS group near you, check out MOPS.org.
[Adapted from a post originally published here on the ol’ blog March 22, 2016.]