Today was the first MOPS meeting of the year. And as you know ... I love firsts!
I love seeing the moms I haven't seen all summer, hearing about vacations, meeting new babies, encouraging the round mommies who are progressing through their pregnancies and also landing back in that comfortable place where I am known and recognized as a fellow "mom-in-the-trenches". The only problem this time was that today I had the sinking feeling that I am turning into one of those "veteran moms". It's true that I have two little preschoolers and I can relate to the mom next me about diaper rash and teething ... but I also have an 8 year old boy who just drafted his first Fantasy Football team. It's true that I remember very vividly those middle-of-the-night feedings and the hassles of pumping ... but I also have a 6 year old girl who asked me this morning for a little lip-gloss and body mist. Apparently I have entered that interesting place of being a MOPS mom (Mother of Preschoolers), but also a MOOK mom (Mother of Older Kids). It's not really an uncomfortable place because I still really enjoyed my morning. But it does raise the question in my head and heart about my reasons for attending MOPS.
I guess I could answer this question a couple of different ways. I could say that there is good food served at MOPS and so I'd be crazy to give that up! I could say that this group is no longer relevant for me and look to get involved elsewhere. I could keep having babies so that I'll always relate ... no wait ... that's actually NOT an option! :) Or, I could decide that MOPS isn't actually about me and that I have this amazing opportunity to go not with a need to be met, but instead with a desire to meet someone else's need.
When I first started coming to MOPS I was needy. With a capital "N". We had just moved across the state. Aaron was 9 months old. We lived on a desolate street way out in Palisade. You get the picture. There was an actual desperation in my attending MOPS. In fact, I vividly remember having plans to attend one morning and ending up in a snow storm on I-70 headed west. Even though the church was only 8 miles away, it was impossible for me to get there and I remember coming home and just crying and crying and crying. The next meeting wasn't for 2 whole weeks ... what was I going to do for 2 weeks?!? It was a very lonely and difficult time in my life as a new mom.
Eventually I got into a rhythm of getting to MOPS more regularly and I could see my attitude change. At these meetings I met other moms who could say, "Oh yeah ... my kid does that, too." or "Sorry you were up all night ... you should have called me because I was, too!" All of a sudden I was normal, my kid was normal, my life was normal. Whew! I had found a safe place to share worries and fears and also successes and celebrations. I had found a place to hear helpful tips and discovered that I had something to offer, too. I also made some wonderful friendships that are still an encouragement today. That is why I have chosen to serve in a number to positions at our MOPS group ... to help other moms to find that safe and encouraging place, too.
So ... what does all this mean for me in this coming year of MOPS. For one thing, I could still use a dose of encouragement on a regular basis and I'm still learning one day at a time how to be the best mom I can be. But, knowing that I have a few years under my belt, and that I'm still navigating the challenging years of preschoolers, I think that I can be ...
wait for it ...
That's really it. No one at MOPS needs me to tell them how to raise their kids. No one needs any unasked for advice. Certainly no one needs to hear that what they are doing is different than how I do it ... and by implication, wrong. My plan is to come faithfully to this meeting place of moms and connect. I want to be a sounding board. I want to be an encouragement. I want to be a friend.
I want to leave you with a little video by Sara Groves ... once again she has sung the words of my heart, especially regarding this topic of friendship. Enjoy~
Sara Groves - Twice As Good from Sara Groves Music on Vimeo.
So ... how will you grow in friendships this year? And who is someone you know, maybe just their name, who could use someone to help make life "half as bad and twice as good"?