Moms Meet Up to Recharge
There is no one-size-fits-all manual that teaches parents how to perfectly raise the unique human beings they call children, explains Cassie Menard, the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) coordinator for Dripping Springs. “You never know what motherhood is like until you get into the thick of it.”
For support and guidance during this time of transition, some women in Dripping Springs have turned to the local MOPs program for friendships and support.
MOPS, an international organization, was founded in 1973 by a group of eight women in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, who began meeting regularly to support each other while they raised their young children. Since then, it has grown into a thriving organization with MOPS groups across the globe. The program is based on biblical principles and establishes relationships with churches across the denominational spectrum, though moms do not need to belong to a church to participate.
As sleep-challenged mothers work hard each day to make the right choices for their children and family, they may need someone to talk to without having to worry about being judged, explains Vanessa Tiemann, a Dripping Springs MOPS participant. “I had so many insecurities about myself as a new mother, but going into the MOPS group, you can put that aside because everyone at the table has the same insecurities,” says Vanessa. “It is a safe place where you don’t feel judgment.”
“When you get in a situation where you are talking about something that really matters to you, you bond quickly,” says Dripping Springs MOPS member Sarah Pettit, who credits the organization for providing supportive friendships after her move here from Memphis several years ago.
The Dripping Springs MOPS group currently has five mentor moms who provide much-needed insight and comfort to younger mothers who are just starting out as parents. Mentor moms have already raised their own children and are greatly respected by the MOPS participants for advice and counsel.
“I am mostly a sounding board or a friend. I am somebody at a different age that has been through the things they are experiencing now,” says mentor mom Carla Bilderback, who sets up a group text for her tables each year so the mothers can stay in contact outside of the monthly meetings.
The two-hour monthly meetings feature inspirational and educational speakers, often from the Hill Country. The meetings include educational discussions on topics affecting new mothers, such as newborn and toddler challenges, marriage, diet and exercise, organization, and self-care. Mentor mothers address the group at the beginning of each meeting and share various experiences from parenthood, including stories about both the good and hard times in their lives. Listening to the mentor moms really puts it all in perspective and allows moms to see the big picture, says Sarah.
During the meetings, childcare is provided for the mothers’ children, but childcare availability is limited. The Dripping Springs MOPS group is always looking for volunteer residents to provide childcare during the meetings (after an extensive reference check). Waiting lists for the group form quickly each year, though the MOPS group always does its best to include everyone, Cassie says.
The most important benefit from MOPS is the new friendships the group has helped to create, says Vanessa. “Most days I feel like I am thriving, but without MOPS I imagine I’d probably feel like I was just surviving. It is so easy to get lost in the mommy process,” she says.
Mothers of young children often have difficulty finding time to get out into the community for volunteer work. The Dripping Springs chapter currently supports Foster Village and has also supported the Austin Resource Center, Austin Women’s Shelter, and Helping Hands of Dripping Springs.
To find out more about the Dripping Springs MOPS group, contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about other area MOPS groups, including in Buda, San Marcos, and Austin, go to www.mops.org.