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MOPS groups: A place for moms to recharge

Women in the Mothers of Preschoolers program know some days they’ll show up to the group meeting on time with perfectly coifed hair and flawless makeup.

Other days, they’ll show up without a shower, with coffee spilled on their shirt and with bags under their eyes from a sleepless baby. And that’s OK, too.

The support group – open to women who are pregnant or have children age 5 and under – meets twice monthly during the day and offers childcare to give busy moms a break.



“Your batteries get recharged,” said Grass Valley MOPS Director Cameron Martin. “You get to have adult conversation.”

While local MOPS chapters meet at churches, and the overarching MOPS International organization is a Christian ministry, leaders at the groups emphasize every mom is welcome and meetings are not overtly religious.




Grass Valley MOPS meets at First Baptist Church Grass Valley and includes women who attend church and those who claim no belief system at all. Parenting styles differ; members are single or married.

The common bonds are the trials and triumphs of raising little ones.

“It’s nice to know you’re not the only one,” said member Stephanie Camp.

Brenda McMullan started a MOPS chapter at Twin Cities Church this fall, prompted by her own experiences as a mother of two.

“When you’re around small children, you feel isolated,” McMullan said. “You have doubts about your abilities as a mother.”

At a typical meeting, moms will eat breakfast together and listen to a guest speaker on a parenting-related topic before breaking into smaller discussion groups. Some meetings are reserved for crafts or other social activities; past Grass Valley MOPS meetings have included self-defense and basic salsa dancing lessons.

The goal is affirming moms.

“We want moms to understand their value, even on the everyday, mundane days,” McMullan said.

The groups meet twice monthly, but the connections spill over the bounds of the meetings.

“This is the place to find friends who are at a similar stage of life,” said Nicole, a Grass Valley MOPS member. “Some of us have vacationed together and held birthday parties for each other’s children. We have exchanged babysitting, coupons, recipes, meals, sewing projects and more.”

The support was more important than ever when Nicole lost her mother in December. As an only child, she leaned on her MOPS “family” to help get through the pain and care for her father.

“This group held me together,” she said. “These women have been like sisters.”

There’s also assistance from women a little older and wiser. “Mentor moms,” whose children are older than the 5-year-old cutoff, can stay in the group to help younger mothers.

“They’ve been there, done that,” Martin said. “They show us there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

McMullan said the program helps women make the most out of what can be both joyous and lonely years.

“It’s an amazing season of life,” McMullan said. “We don’t want moms to be alone.”

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail mrindels@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4247.


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