Yesterday morning, Andrew and I went to this group called MOPS, or Mothers Of Preschoolers. I didn't really know what to expect, but the premise sounded good: meet other moms and spend time with them for two hours while Andrew and other little people got babysat in another room. Two hours! A whole morning accounted for, and then to home for a nap! Then just the afternoon to entertain the boy, and the day is over! All of this was very attractive to me. Not even the $20 registration fee could deter me. I was buying two hours of freedom.
After a few early morning errands (dropping Greg off at work, and a brief bit of shopping), Andrew and I pulled up to New Hope Baptist Church. Andrew was feeling fantastic from his breakfast of a bottle of milk and several little cups of cheese doodles (they were at the check-out counter at Staples for impulse buys...Andrew is an impulse buyer), and jumped out of the car to start running circles around the parking lot. After collecting him and all the paraphernalia found orbiting around small children, I marched us both inside. As I was doing registration, Andrew wandered off down the hall in a recent display of independence to check out the classrooms already containing children. When I finally brought him to where he'd be spending the morning, he took one look at a ball machine and never gave a second thought to me as I quickly slipped out.
The meeting itself was really nice. There was a surprisingly extensive and tasty buffet breakfast spread -- sausage strudel, donuts, deviled eggs and tiny quiches along with both red and green grapes, chunks of pineapple and watermelon. Since I can't eat sugar anymore, I was expecting to have to pass on the whole affair, so I was very pleased. We all gathered around this one table to put together a simple craft, then settled in with our breakfasts and listened to a lady talk about MOPS International, and a fundraising walk (check out the "Support me in Great Moms Walk" link under my links to the right side of this page) that we'll be doing at the end of April. I expected this to be dry, but the lady was good and held our interest well. After that, we were broken up into pre-assigned small groups -- something that I usually avoid like the plague -- and I proceeded to enjoy myself there too. The lady leading our discussion was friendly and outspoken, the ice breaker questions were not embarrassing, and I started to realize what MOPS really is.
MOPS is a support group for moms in the greatest degree. Not only do the get together for pre-scheduled meetings once or twice a month, but they make connections and stay connected. The small group leader has the responsibility to contact each of the members of her group via e-mail or phone call at least once a month. The personal touch is built right into the system. Normally, I wouldn't invite some stranger to pry into my life, but the touch was so light, it was welcome. Now that I'm a mom of a toddler, I've realized my very real need for local support and contact with other moms.
All of this may not sound like much, but I can tell you that I felt like I'd been given the world yesterday. After spending two hours of Andrew-less time, I felt refreshed, although I wasn't really sure what had just happened or why I felt so good. Still it's hard to explain why this all meant so much to me, but perhaps if you tried staying at home all day (every day) with a baby/toddler for over a year and then suddenly found something like this, you'd understand. All I can say is, it was great.