One of the scariest realities of becoming a mom is finding other mommies to mommy with. Of course there are the lucky few who seem to have aligned their first pregnancies with those of close friends or siblings, but for most of us, along-side the joyful expectation of that first precious child comes a sense of impending loneliness.
I first felt it when the school year started in August. After a whirlwind summer of preparing our home and hearts for a new baby and getting in one last unencumbered roadtrip - logging over 3,000 miles, my husband returned to teaching math during the day. And I stayed home. After 3 years of nearly year-round teaching - spending the school years in high school English classrooms and the summers teaching conversational English in China, I stayed home. And stayed home. And stayed home. And went to Target. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE time that is all mine. In fact, I love it so much that I didn’t really do anything to connect with other people. And, really, I didn’t know how. I was out of practice with finding and engaging in community that wasn’t established institutionally through work.
And then came the third invitation to join MOPS. I really thought MOPS was for mothers of preschoolers - as in kids in preschool… But my ready-to-pop belly and I kept getting invited.
And wow. Just wow. The first meeting was overwhelming. I didn’t know where I fit and I didn’t know what to talk about. I’m not sure that I said much of anything, actually. But just listening to these women, I knew that I wanted a way in. A way to dig deeper. And you know what? It happened. And I can’t even tell you how. I just kept showing up.
There’s this thing that is just true about being a mama in a room full of mamas. We are all in the same boat and we all know it. We ARE a community, we just have to learn to live like it. I’ve learned that the deep stuff - the soul-nourishing community we all crave, starts with the practical. The great thing about that is the practical isn’t so scary. We can sign up for the practical - literally! There is a description of biblical community in the book of Acts that describes the early church sharing meals, pooling resources, and worshipping together. We build the foundations for community when we bring a meal to a new mama, join chaos to chaos for a playdate or a picnic, or invite a family we don’t know well over for dinner. We pool resources when we put on potluck birthday parties, pick up one another’s groceries, carpool to and from school, trade babysitting, and pass along clothes.
Where are you being led to engage in community here at MOPS? Keep an eye on the MOPS facebook page for opportunities to bring meals to new mamas. Gather gently-used clothing and toys to pass along to other mamas at meetings. Better yet, find a specific family to regularly pass clothes to. Reach out to the women at your table for playdates or coffee. Host a mama-and-me workout in your backyard or garage. Join the Zumba ministry at Pyle Elementary on Saturday mornings with Katie Valorosi or the MOPS Book Club with me (Heather Fenton). Community begins with and depends on these acts of service and engagement, and our willingness to take even small steps toward going deeper in relationships. We are all on this mommy journey, so let’s not do it alone!
Heather Fenton is mama to 4 littles 5 and under and facilitates the Bridge MOPS Book Club.