A Tribute to MOPS

Almost 12 years ago, my good friend Jill invited me to attend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) with her while I was on maternity leave.  I went several times and I loved it.  I eventually rearranged my schedule to allow MOPS to fit in twice a month.  What a welcome environment.  Looking back, it seems silly that as a mom of one--ONE--child and a full time job that I would need an outlet.  What in the world did I do with my time anyway??  I remember just feeling encouraged as a new mom...being offered validation for the overwhelming feelings of failure or inadequacy as a mom, and being entertained by whatever was on the agenda for the morning.  We made paper dolls the first time I was there.  Who would have thought how therapeutic that could be??  And the food...breakfast, provided for me (and all the other moms) and eating it while someone else held Jakob or while he slept.  It was good for my soul.

Eventually friendships were formed, especially as the format transformed into consistant groups that sat together each meeting.  MOPS meets twice a month, child care is provided, as is breakfast.  Each group pitches in to provide a breakfast dish probably 2-3 times in the year.  We would have group activities, fabulous speakers and presenters and interactive learning sessions throughout the year.  Our children, known as MOPPETS were well taken care of for the two hours that we enjoyed the company of each other.  Each one of my children has been a MOPPET.  The childcare has evolved in many ways over the years too.  They all have fond memories of thier time at MOPS.  The biggest number of MOPPETS I've taken with me is four.  I remember feeling like that was SO many and it was SO hard to get them all up and out the door, and even harder to get them out of the van and into the doors of MOPS and then back out again, but it was incredibly worth it.  In later years, having four didn't seem like such an enormous task.  There were even a couple of times when I only had two, and that seemed like a piece of cake!  The kids always admired their teachers.  There were some times of tears and seperation anxiety, but for the most part, MOPS mornings have been one of excitement and anticipation.  Joseph especially enjoys MOPS.  He is never reluctant, and always has a big smile on his face when I come get him.  He is eager to show me what he's created and share what he's learned.  I love it when other people love my kids, and the MOPPETS volunteers certainly do.  It is heart-warming to know that your precious little people are in good hands.  

In the 12 years that I was part of MOPS, I saw moms who were going through really tough times...one of the girls in my group lost her husband to cancer, another discovered her son had special needs, yet another struggled with her husband's addiction to alcohol.  I saw moms that deepened their relationship with Christ, others that renewed their relationship and even some that discovered Him for the first time.  I even met Carrie Herrera for the first time at MOPS and then years later we reconnected because Carlos and Jakob were going to be in kindergarten together.   I often toyed with the idea of investigating being part of the leadership in MOPS, but always reconsidered when I thought about how tough it was just to get there and get home.  Finally a couple of years ago, I took the plunge and decided I'd like to be a group leader.  I didn't realize that I had to be "apply" and be interviewed and accepted.  How nerve-racking.  What if I wasn't good enough.  What if I didn't have what it takes to be a leader?  I finally got the approval and embarked on a whole new MOPS experience.  Instead of two days a month, it was three now.  That third Thursday was so much fun...kind of like starting all over again.  It was refreshing and renewing each time and we started with a devotion and sometimes went into more discussion and study over scripture.  It was nourishing in more ways than one.  I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of it, although it was challenging because now there was more to MOPS than just showing up.  I prayerfully considered the next year and decided that based on how much I felt on that third Thursday meeting that I needed that fellowship, I "signed up" for another year. 

The second year was much more challenging, mainly because my schedule is just busting at the seams with kids activities and family life.  It was difficult to connect to the moms in my group, mostly because I didn't feel like I had the time to devote to them.  I couldn't give my position that extra effort, and sometimes felt like I couldn't give it even a mediocre effort.  I truly enjoy MOPS and each year when I look at my extra-cirricular activies, and work on what must stop and what can continue, MOPS is always there, but never gets cut.  I have just needed it in my life.  I'm not a very good listener when it comes to God's answers to my prayers.  I've decided in hindsight that there have been many times in my life that I have struggled with a situation  and it was addressed at MOPS during that same time, giving me comfort or encouragement and sometimes just the advice that I needed to hear from a different platform.  ALWAYS though, I was reminded what a gift my children are, what a gift motherhood is, and what a privelege it is to know and love and serve the Lord. 

MOPS has lifted me up over the years, provided me with confidence, encouragement, friendships, opportunities for personal growth, and reminded me of what is important.  I feel like I've been especially touched by two sisters.  Kelly and Andrea.  Kelly was the first face that I remember that first time I came to MOPS.  She was the coordinator.  Later she was the leader of my discussion group.  Her sister Andrea was also a leader of a group that I was part of and more recently has coordinated the group leaders themselves.  These two women have left a lasting impression on me.  They are selfless, genuine, thoughtful and caring.  Their demeanor is always pleasant and it is just a joy to be around each of them.  They are good examples and good Christian women.  It is no surprise that they were two of the original MOPPETS as their mom was one of the MOPS founders.  Just another piece of reassurance that MOPS is a good thing.  There are many things that I have taken from MOPS and applied to my life.  One thing that I wish to do more of is enthusiastically teach my children scripture.  Barb Barber, our original mentor is so incredibly gifted in teaching us moms how to do just that.  If I would have saved everything that she offered us, I would have a treasure trove of things to use.  I have many of them, and the rest of those great ideas are stored in my brain somewhere. 

Today was my last MOPS meeting.  (We still have one leadership meeting left).  I didn't announce to anyone that I wouldn't be returning, but I did share what MOPS has meant to me, how I've benefitted so much from the love that is poured out in service and friendship from these amazing women.  It will be difficult to not return next fall.  To not be part of that amazing ministry.  I have again prayerfully considered this and truly feel like God is calling me to embark on yet another endeavor--one that focuses more on me teaching my children scripture.  One that focuses on growing my relationships with the women that are entering my life now due to my children being in school with their children.  One that focuses on my desire to devote more time to my family life.  I am saddened by the thought of Joe not having that time in MOPPETS that he relishes, but excited that I get to teach him at home.  I am glad to know that there is a mom on the waiting list that will get to enjoy and benefit from what I have for the last 12 years. 

I still technically have a good five years of eligibility to be in MOPS, and maybe more if we have another baby, but for now, this long standing chapter closes and a new one begins.