While school is in session, twice a month, local mothers meet up at the Foothills Baptist Church Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group.
The international organization was founded more than 40 years ago and has helped over a million mothers in more than 32 countries deal with the many experiences motherhood brings. One of the many goals of the MOPS group is not only for women to build lifelong friendships, but to learn vital parenting skills from mentors who can share their own advice and experience of motherhood with the other women.
The Foothills Baptist Church MOPS group began in Ahwatukee in January 2010 with just 10 mothers, and has grown significantly to more than 40 members, with expected growth in the upcoming years.
Group organizer and mother of two, Katie Gray, spoke about why mothers should join, “We know the burden stay-at-home or part-time moms can experience; the loneliness, the cumbersome stress of playing nurse, maid, chef, scheduler, chauffeur, and friend can put on women and MOPS is there to give moms two hours all to themselves.”
The job of being a stay-at-home mother is equally as stressful as being a working mother, and the overwhelming stress can take a toll on a mom both physically and mentally.
Stay-at-home mothers often lose contact with friends due to the responsibilities at home, and the feeling of losing one’s identity can be very real. Through MOPS, women realize there are many mothers in the community who experience the same emotions and can share the many joys and frustrations women often encounter.
“I got my identity back with MOPS, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have that time for myself where I could focus on me and not on what I have to make for lunch,” said member Katie Gray.
The groups follows the school year schedule and meets every other Thursday to participate in activities like crafts, meeting up for lunch or dinner, listening to guest speakers, and even to escape for two hours simply to have time to chat with friends and de-stress.
Jessica Williams, also a mother and group organizer, says the organization has a theme every year that it follows, which adds to the variety of activities the mothers participate in. While at the meetings, the children are cared for at the preschool area by caretakers so the moms are free to have some alone time with the group.
The group is open for all mothers with children between newborn and kindergarten age. The first meeting will be on Aug. 15 at the Foothills Baptist Church, 15450 S. 21st St. Mothers are encouraged to register at http://www.foothillsbaptist.org/mops.
• Brenda Carrasco is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is interning this semester for the AFN.