Connecting with a local – or even national – group may be just the thing you need.
Nine-and-a-half years ago, I left my teaching position at a community college to stay at home full time with my newborn son. Shortly afterwards, my husband accepted a job transfer to northern Vermont. Our first long, cold winter in Vermont would prove to be a lonely one for me. I had left my family and childhood friends to move to a state where I knew no one and had no connections. My husband traveled often and, when he was home, worked long hours, so my days were spent primarily with my infant child.
When my son napped, the crackling of the radiators and the occasional snap of icicles breaking off the roof shingles provided an eerie serenade. I yearned for some adult company – another mom to share my joys and frustrations with. That first winter, however, the only adult conversation I had during daylight hours was with the checkout clerks at the supermarket. I was sure that there were probably other stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood, but due to the icy roads and daunting snow banks, a casual greeting on the street was simply not going to happen.
If I knew then what I know now, I would not have spent that winter alone and without the support of other moms. Today there are a wide variety of support groups and classes that moms can join to cultivate new friendships and experience a unique camaraderie with other mothers going through the same challenges. Most of these groups also provide stimulating play and socialization for the tots.
National Support Groups
Many of today’s national support groups started out modestly, with just a few moms who wanted to form a group in their neighborhood. These groups usually ask for modest registration fees covering newsletters, materials and resources that are distributed to members. The following list provides information on just three of the national/international support groups available to mothers today:
International Moms Club (Inception: California, 1983)
International Moms Club is a nonprofit group designed for the stay-at-home mother. Its intent is to provide support for mothers who choose to stay at home to raise their children. Groups perform service projects to help needy children in their communities. These groups accommodate mothers of children of all ages (not just preschoolers). Philosophy: Women must be free to choose their personal path to fulfillment.
Raising children is an important and fulfilling full-time job. Meetings: These groups meet during daytime hours to accommodate the stay-at-home mom. There is a discussion on topics of interest to moms in the group. Each group works on at least one service project per year benefiting needy children in their community. The children are supervised by a Moms Club member and meet separately for their own activities. Website: You can find a local chapter and additional information by visiting momsclub.org.
MOPS International (Inception: Colorado, 1973)
MOPS stands for “Mothers of Preschoolers.” MOPS International exists to meet the needs of every mom (urban, rural, stay-at-home, working, single and married). There is a devotional element to MOPS. Philosophy: Moms share a similar desire to be the very best moms they can be. The years from infancy to kindergarten are foundational in a mother-child relationship and are filled with unique needs.
Meetings: Groups meet at various times – evenings, weekends or during daytime hours to accommodate members’ schedules. Meetings consist of prayer, a discussion (on a topic of interest to the moms in the group) and a creative activity (a craft taught by one of the members). MOPPETS: The preschool children meet in groups for play and age-appropriate activities. Website: Find a local chapter and additional information by visiting gospelcom.net/mops.
Mocha Moms (Inception: Maryland, 1997)
Mocha Moms is a support group for women of color who have chosen not to work full-time outside of the home in order to devote more time to their families. Some members have eliminated employment altogether; others work part-time, flextime, night shifts, have home-based businesses or have chosen other less demanding career paths so that they are more available to their families. Mocha Moms welcomes people of all religions, races, educational backgrounds and income levels. Philosophy: Mocha Moms exists to help mothers of color to feel good about their choice and to provide information to help them be the best and most important influence in their children’s lives.
Mocha Moms encourages a spirit of community activism within its membership. Meetings: Meetings take place on a weekly basis in church halls, community centers, playgrounds or member’s homes. Children are occupied with constructive activities and have a chance to socialize, too. Mocha Moms groups hold monthly potluck dinners where guest speakers offer advice on topics such as educational issues, time management and personal finance. They also often participate in local projects that support other community service groups. Website: Find a local chapter and additional information by visiting mochamoms.org.
Informal Neighborhood Playgroups
Your neighborhood may already have an established playgroup. These informal meetings are usually held at members’ homes on a rotational basis. Most playgroups will schedule outings such as picnics at the playground or an afternoon at a local children’s museum.
The outings offer stimulating activities for the children as well as provide a social outlet for the moms. Peruse the local listings on this page for a local playgroup. If there isn’t one established in your area, distribute a flyer to your neighbors. Sometimes all it takes is a little initiative to get the ball rolling!
Most moms can feed an infant on the left and balance a toddler on the right while reading the morning paper. This does not mean that moms don’t need help emotionally or physically from others. Mothers often tell themselves that they can do it all and do it solo. Don’t let this “superwoman concept” get in the way of your finding a support group. You will probably find that the bonds you form with other moms today will become some of the strongest you will have in your lifetime.
Myrna Beth Haskell is a mother and freelance writer.