Do you ever find yourself lost in a fog of sleep deprivation, dealing with a fussy baby and feeling trapped inside the house? Are you desperate for community, for people who understand? Have you lost sight of who you are as a person in the midst of motherhood? That all described me almost seven years ago. I was deep in the trenches of surviving early motherhood with a reflux baby who barely slept. I felt like I was a mere shell of the person I had once been. Then I joined a MOPS group. (MOPS is for Mothers of Preschoolers, that is, with kids from 0 to 6.)
‘Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed.’ – Linda Wooten
I would love to say that on joining MOPS I was magically given every solution I needed and suddenly had a perfect baby and completely joyous mothering experience, but that wouldn’t be real life. What I did find was a group of women who understood because they were walking the same journey of being a mother of young children. I found belonging. I found amazing people who would give me a break and look after my daughter. I found encouragement and listening ears. I found women with older children who were living proof that ‘this too shall pass’ and had wise words to share. I found community.
Beyond all of that, the greatest treasure I discovered at MOPS was me. I started to see glimpses of the person I had been. I reconnected with parts of my faith journey that had been smothered. I felt stirrings of old dreams and passions emerging. Motherhood had felt suffocating and all-consuming, if I’m honest. I could feel resentment creeping in at times. While returning to work part-time was a significant part of the process of re-finding myself, it was the opportunities in MOPS that unleashed a side of me that I thought had been long-buried. Through the speakers and conversations in that group I was encouraged and equipped to be brave.
‘Successful mothers are not the ones who never struggled, they are the ones that never gave up despite the struggle.’ Sharon Jaynes
I was able to join the team that worked together to run our local MOPS group. I was able to develop leadership skills that I wasn’t sure I even had. I found an even greater depth of community working side by side with this incredible bunch of passionate women. Opportunities to get more involved opened up and each step forward stretched my capacity and skills, expanding them beyond anything I had imagined. I would not be the person I am today without the support, training and opportunities in MOPS.
Do you want to know the reason why finding myself and developing these skills has been so important to me? My daughter. I want her to be a strong woman who knows her own strengths, who is brave, who pursues all that she is capable of being. Wanting that for her pushes me to keep going on my own journey. I cannot teach and guide her where I haven’t walked myself. The parenting gold I have found at MOPS has been amazing. The opportunity to be an authentic, flawed-but-in-progress example for my daughter is precious beyond words. The nature of working in teams means it is not only my example that I get to show her, but the example of the amazing women in MOPS with me.
The heart of MOPS that I have experienced and loved is:
- to welcome in all mums of young children
- to build community
- to develop our motherhood without the mum-shaming, judgement and drama of some spaces
- to equip us as women to be all that we have been created to be
- to grow women as leaders in our communities and areas of influence
- to invite us to take steps forward in our journeys of faith
I am no longer in a local group but I happily give of my time to invest back into this organisation. I honestly do not know where I would be without MOPS. It was my sanity saver, my community, my safe space. My desire is for more women to discover this hope and belonging for themselves. I love seeing our tribe growing across Australia (and even into New Zealand and Vietnam). We are a sisterhood of mums raising the next generation side by side.
If you would like to find out more about MOPS
To find a group near you or find out how your church can start its own MOPS group, visit the website http://mops.org.au/
Jodi Koepke is mum to an amazing seven-year-old (who is worth every moment of sleep deprivation and tough times). She has the privilege of serving MOPS Australia as Field Manager. When not working for MOPS or for Alta-1 College, you can find her writing and pursuing ways to encourage and support those she connects with. Read more over on http://www.jokoepke.com/.