I use to take MOPS for granted, not truly aware of the important role it played in my life as a mom. Kind of like a kid with parents. They may not think much of all they have because of having parents in their life: a home, clothes, food, love, care, guidance, and instruction. Security and a safe place to land.
I’ve been attending MOPS for twelve years. Yes, twelve…I was shocked when I realized that’s the equivalent of attending first grade through twelfth grade. That was my entire childhood. How in the world am I old enough to have been doing something, parenting-related, that long? In fact, just as mind-boggling to me is that some of my current fellow MOPS moms were as young as twelve years old when I attended my first MOPS meeting. I’m still in shock as I type these words.
To me, MOPS and being a mom pretty much go hand in hand. I’ve never had one without the other! But as excited as I was to attend my first MOPS meeting (for this I-can’t-wait-to-be-a-mom person, MOPS was on my list of things I couldn’t wait to do), I quickly settled in to the MOPS routine. I loved MOPS, but had no clue as to how important it was to me.
I clearly remember the moment I recognized the significant role MOPS has played in my life. I was talking with a non-MOPS friend several years ago. She was a mother of young children, all pre-school age. She was sharing some of her struggles, insecurities, and concerns related to raising her children. Things such as dealing with tantrums, potty-training, bedtime issues, “losing it” with her kids, wondering if she was messing up her kids, dealing with mommy-guilt, and certain she she was the only one struggling with so many of these things.
As she shared, it struck me that MOPS was a place where I shared all of these things with other moms. And other moms shared these things, too. Because of MOPS, I knew I was not alone. Because of MOPS I had a place to be real and vent and be encouraged by other moms. Because of MOPS I heard from speakers, who not only gave perspective, wisdom, and guidance, but whose experiences also verified that what I was struggling with wasn’t abnormal or uncommon. As I listened to this mom, I realized she needed MOPS. If for no other reason, than to know that she was not alone. And as an added benefit, to receive support, encouragement, and relationship.
I am at the end of this MOPS journey. My baby will be graduating from kindergarten. Today is my last MOPS meeting. Though I’m a bit nostalgic at the thought, I’m also ready. As I’ve attended meetings this year, I’m amazed at how different my life is now. The baby issues and toddler struggles are no longer a part of my life. They are a sweet memory. Yes, the days were long and hard, but because the years did fly by (yes, they really do…it’s just the days that are long!), what I now hold on to is all that was sweet (and am thankful to be through with all that was difficult and draining and hard related to those early years of parenting). Of course, I’m on to new joys and struggles.
I leave this wonderful MOPS stage of my life, thankful for all that I received, and not wanting to take any of it for granted. As a reminder to myself, these are the gifts I have received from MOPS, each of them symbolically wrapped up and tied with bows:
- Sweet friendships
- Instruction and guidance
- A place to be real
- Love in the midst of being real and admitting where I had messed up
- Laughter and fun interaction
- A needed break from my children!
- A place to encourage others, as I moved farther and farther along the motherhood road
- Connection with other moms throughout the community, some who are very much like me and others who are not, but all of us bonded together through this thing called motherhood
- Biblical perspective, guidance and encouragement
- A place to be reminded of the joys of being a mom
- A place where I know I am not alone
- A place to grow not only as a mom, but as a person and a woman
- Leadership skills and experience, as I served on steering and led table groups for most of my years at MOPS
- A wonderful MOPPETS program for my children (with wonderful loving teachers)
- Memories of meetings, experiences, and people
- A strong base in which to move forward into this next phase of motherhood
The prophet Isaiah shares these comforting and encouraging words in Isaiah 40:11:
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
MOPS has been one of the many ways in which Christ has gently led me. I am a better mother, person, friend, wife, leader, and Christian because of MOPS. MOPS has been, even when I didn’t realize it, a gift to me on this journey as a mom. A gift from Him, as He gently leads me.