Mahomet MOPS has kicked off their 2013-2014 campaign to connect mothers of preschool aged children.
“It’s a place for moms to come, meet other mom, relax and get a break from your kids,” co-leader Jodi Kimball said.
The group, which meets from 9 to 11 a.m. on the first and third Thursday of the month meets at Grace Church. The October and January meetings will be on the second and fourth Thursdays due to holiday conflicts.
Although the MOPS group held their first meeting on Sept. 19, pregnant mothers, and mothers with children up to kindergarten are invited to join at any time.
MOPS will host their first social outing on Thursday when they meet at Curtis Orchard. The group also meets throughout the year for play dates, along with a ladies night out and MOPS and POPS night in February.
The Christian-based organization begins each meeting with a prayer followed by a hot meal and a guest speaker or activity. Women then break into smaller groups for discussion.
The MOPS theme this year, “A Beautiful Mess, Embrace Your Story,” is based on Ephesians 2:10.
“I feel like right now the social media puts so much pressure on moms for perfection,” co-leader Ashley Arbogast said. “I find myself comparing myself to other mom. It’s nice to gather with a group of moms, and see you have the same struggles I have. We’re really not all that perfect, and that’s ok.”
The MOPS steering committee, which includes the group leaders and mentor moms, shared pictures of their families and messy houses at the first meeting.
“We got really good feedback,” Kimball said. “I heard a lot of people say, ‘I could have put my pictures up there, too.’”
The steering committee hopes to give other moms a volunteer opportunity to be vulnerable in sharing pictures of their messy homes in throughout the year.
Arbogast and Kimball were asked to be MOPS leaders this year after being active discussion leaders in the past. Although both were hesitant to take on the responsibility, they felt passionate about the theme and looked forward to working with each other throughout the year.
When Kimball moved to Mahomet from Bloomington in January, she heard about the MOPS program through her child’s preschool. At her first MOPS meeting, she was quickly greeted by Arbogast, who invited her over for a play date.
Arbogast found herself in a similar situation when she visited Grace Church for the first time when her family moved to Mahomet two years ago. With twin boys and a newborn, she was greeted by a MOPS coordinator who invited her to a MOPS meeting.
“It was so out of my comfort zone, but we just moved here,” Arbogast said. “I don’t know anybody, but I’ll give it a shot. I’d say I’ve met 99 percent of my friends from (MOPS).”
Arbogast said MOPS has helped her grow spiritually, too. Although MOPS is a Christian-based organization, any mother is welcome to participate.
Mentor mom, Patti Dukeman has watched the MOPS program grow over the last eleven years. Dukeman began her service as a caregiver for the children while the moms participated in discussion.
Now, in her second year as a mentor mom coordinator, Dukeman is there to assist mentor moms and support group discussion leaders.
Dukeman said mentor moms are important for women with young children as their own mothers may live far away or have passed away. Mentor moms also act as a third party confidant for mothers.
Mahomet MOPS saw 40 women, including the steering committee at their first meeting. Along with local membership, a MOPS registration also provides a subscription to MOM Sense magazine and other online resources.
“It’s nice to share your stories with other moms,” Arbogast said. “To hear how they deal with things. I just hate all the pressure that’s on moms to be perfect. It’s not realistic. We’re really striving to be real this year.”