By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Staff Correspondent
LAUREL, Md.—MOPS International is a Christian non-profit organization established in 1973 by eight Colorado moms who got together each week to eat, laugh, do crafts and share devotions while their children played. Since that humble beginning, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International grew into an international non-profit ministry touching over 90,000 mothers of preschoolers in over 3,000 groups across the United States and in over 30 countries worldwide.
Often mothers of young children, especially those who stay at home feel isolated, become unsure of their parenting skills and wonder if what they’re doing or what they’re kids are doing is “normal,” Amy Patrick, founder and co-coordinator of the MOPS group at First Church, Laurel explained.
“They’re in the house with the kids feeling like they’re going crazy. It’s great to get together with other moms and realize you and your kids are okay,” Patrick said. The women form instant community. They understand each other.
“We all understand when a mom says ‘If I don’t get some sleep I’m going to go crazy!’” Patrick said. “It’s very positive.”
The group of about 30 women, a half and half mix of women from the church and community, meet monthly for activities, demonstrations, special speakers, lunch, and just plain “mommy time.”
The kids enjoy playtime and fun biblical-based activities in their own MOPPETS group planned each month by Cathy McDerment.
“I know my children are being cared for. My focus can be on being a better mom, focusing on the Lord and on supporting other moms,” Patrick said.
Patrick began the group three years ago. Anne Presbury-Bush, the church’s women’s ministry director, heard about MOPS and was looking for a possible candidate to lead a group at FBC Laurel. Patrick wasn’t sure the timing was right. She and her husband, Bryan, FBC’s worship pastor, were expecting their third child.
But God spoke to Patrick when she was in Annapolis Mall. She met a young woman and her little children who had just moved from Illinois. As the ladies chatted, the woman asked Patrick if she knew of any MOPS groups.
“I said, ‘Do you know it’s interesting you asked that?’”
The woman from the mall was in the original dozen MOPS members at FBC Laurel. Patrick said women invite friends and neighbors and the MOPS group has been a real outreach for the church. The women range from very young to in their early 40’s. Patrick said it’s nice to have the mix. The experienced moms have wisdom they can share.
In addition to the regular meetings, the women and children get together for play groups at each others’ homes or in local parks in nice weather.
“I wish I would have sought out a group when my oldest daughter was born,” Patrick said.
For more information about MOPS, or to find a MOPS group, see http://www.mops.org.
Some BCM/D churches that have MOPS groups include: Riva Trace Church; South Columbia Church; White Marsh Church; First Church, Easton; Faith Family, Finksburg; White Marsh Church; Indian Head Church; First Church, Waldorf; Southern Calvert Church, Lusby; Oak Ridge Church, Salisbury.