When we first moved up here 6 years ago, I got invited to attend a MOPS group. Not the cleaning implement. It was a time for women to get together, have some fellowship and/or crafts while someone watched your kids, and get support and encouragement so you could continue on in the (thankless) mommy trenches.
I was not excited.
From my point of view, mothers who attended these types of groups were losers. They showed up, covered in drool and baby cereal, to chat about teething and how to remove stains from clothing. I was a working mom – or had been. These stay-at-home-types would have nothing in common with me.
At that point in time, I was a stay-at-home-mom, and newly so. I had just moved from Portland to Shelton and because our house purchase got scooped out from under us, were living with my dad and stepmom. A temporary situation, but a little awkward nonetheless. Ruby was 10 months old. Zac was 6. It seems so long ago now.
A wife of someone who had been in our junior high group invited me. Imagine! He was old enough now to be married and have children of his own. Gulp! We were so old. I had met her before and she seemed nice but I was skeptical. See the first paragraph.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I was a snob. Did I really need a place to go to hang out with other moms of babies? What if it was incredibly boring or nobody *got* me? Besides, crafts and I…let’s just say we were barely on speaking terms. Ask about my homemade lotion with the consistency of monkey brains. We just started attending our new church and though very friendly, I knew nobody very well. I needed another outlet since our church didn’t have a women’s ministry. I needed to get to know some gals. Reluctantly, I got us there.
Thank God I went. Granted, I didn’t go until we had moved into our own place. By then, I was more than ready.
The energy in the room in the 7th Day Adventist church was amazing. It was fun! I met some great women. Several of those gals are still very good friends today. We’re all different but love our kids and love God and have found our way to raise a family, alongside our great husbands. I won’t name them here because they might be embarrassed by such public praise, but having women outside my regular church friends made a huge difference in getting a bigger perspective on what was going on in Shelton and the world at large. These ladies welcomed me. I found acceptance and understanding. We won prizes and everyone brought food to share. We had great speakers, too. We only met twice a month but it changed my outlook on what motherhood could look like, for me. Being myself was okay. I didn’t have to have more children, though big families seem the norm up here. God was pleased with me and my tiny “quiver” of only two arrows. This whole motherhood gig is an evolution over time. We learn as we go, though we come packed with a few skills. It was alright to not be perfect, but I could learn to do it better.
The craft time proved challenging to me. It’s not that they were difficult. It’s that I simply didn’t have that “je ne sais quoi” to make something gorgeous out of silk flowers and tulle. I learned how to arrange fresh flowers. That was fun and sort of “open to interpretation”. I decorated a notebook cover and gave it to Zac. His response to my first serious effort with a glue gun? “Thanks, Mom, but it looks like it’s covered in spider webs.” He never used it. And I spent about 40 tense minutes wrapping a ribbon around a pen, only to have it come unwound the first time it was used. Nuff said.
I became a table leader, then I co-coordinated the group with another gal who became one of my best friends. The next year, I moved on. I had other things I needed to be focusing on, but the time was well spent. That’s something else I learned there: us women, especially moms, have definite seasons in our lives. All you can do is embrace them.
So MOPS ladies, you know who you are. Your prayers and honesty about your own struggles reminded me that help would be there when I had parenting challenges. I thank God for you.