Supporting Mothers of Preschoolers

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Giggles and laughter emanated from one room in Faith Family Church of the Nazarene.

Inside, about 10 Los Lunas women sat around two tables to listen to mothering experiences, gain support and encouragement, make new friends and share in the struggles and joys of mothering young children.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: Alyssa Clevelle, Mothers of Preschoolers coordinator, left, and Melissa Jiron, right, laugh at a joke a MOPS member made during the group’s bimonthly meeting. The Los Lunas chapter began in October of 2011.

The Los Lunas chapter of Mothers of Preschoolers provides Valencia County mothers with pre-school aged children, up to age 6, friendship, creative outlets and Christianity-based instruction.

Jennifer Carter, a MOPS member, joined the organization to meet other stay-at-home moms.

“It’s hard connecting with other mothers being a stay-at-home mom,” Carter said.

Sarah Walls-Frazier, founding member of MOPS, agrees. She had a hard time making friends in Los Lunas after moving to the area and being placed on bed rest during her pregnancy.

“I couldn’t get up and go out, so that was hard making friends, and I mean a lot of moms out there don’t have the same interests as I do, or if they do, they have different schedules than I do and it’s hard to get together,” Wall-Fraizer said.

But MOPS helped her make those connections with other mothers, she said. As a member, the mother of three found the encouragement and support she needed to help her get through marital problems.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: Haxton Haynes sucks his thumb while watching two boys play with building blocks during a MOPS meeting. At the meetings, a childcare worker watches MOPS members’ children to aid them in focusing on the day’s activities.

With their children being cared for, mothers can refocus their energy on themselves during MOPS meetings.

“Most of us are stay-at-home moms and it’s those little two hours that is not devoted to everyone else,” said MOPS coordinator Alyssa Clevelle. “It’s for us to go and kind of remember who we are and reconnect.”

The two-hour meetings are full of MOPS International, Inc. curriculum, based around Christianity, community speakers and mom-friendly activities over brunch.

The curriculum, taught during three meetings, is centered around a theme and a Bible verse. This year’s theme is “Plunge,” which pushes mothers to take risks, be more authentic and move passed the surface in relationships.

To expand upon this knowledge, mothers share their thoughts and experiences through discussion groups.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone to learn from each other and get different perspectives on different things, because someone catches something that someone else didn’t or they heard something very different,” Clevelle said.

In other meetings, members listen to community speakers who inform them about creating a household budget, organizing their homes and learning self-defense techniques.

While others are filled with activities, such as a spa day, a fitness day, an emergency preparedness day and a moms’ panel, where mothers with older children answer submitted questions from members.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: MOPS member Regina Cordova laughs after answering a question, which allows other members to get to know her better. The group has grown from four founding members to 13 in more than a year.

The organization also involves members in fundraisers to sustain MOPS and two service projects a year.

On top of providing mothers a safe environment to learn, unwind and establish friendships with other moms, the organization aids members in setting up play dates and other activities outside of MOPS.

During meetings, childcare workers watch members’ children in the church nursery for the children’s program, MOPPETS, while members participate in the day’s activities.

In MOPPETS, children learn morals revolving around Christianity through a series of computer-animated films called, “VeggiesTales.”

“I love that my daughter is able to play in MOPPETS and has so much fun. It’s nice to be able to go and pick her up afterwards and hear her talk about her friends,” Clevelle said.

Clevelle founded the Los Lunas chapter after her search for local mother groups came up empty handed. She began looking for a group to join after her daughter said she wanted to make friends.

“I didn’t really know a lot of people my age who have children her age, so I started looking around,” she said.

When she found nothing nearby, she decided to start a MOPS chapter of her own.

MOPS, which began in October 2011, grew “quite rapidly” from about four members to 13.

“This year the response has been huge and it’s very exciting,” Clevelle said.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: Founding member Sarah Walls-Frazier plays with MOPS members’ children during a MOPS meeting. Walls-Frazier pretends to feed Elissa Walls-Frazier with a spoon, while Alivia Walls-Frazier and Tabytha Clevelle watch. MOPS provides mothers with preschool children a chance to share mothering experiences and receive support and encouragement.

Being a part of the organization is more than just being a member. It’s about serving and helping each other, Clevelle said.

“We’re there to love on each other and support each other,” she said.

Participants have told Clevelle that they feel safe, loved and accepted in MOPS, while having fun.

Walls-Frazier, a Los Lunas mother, likes everything about MOPS, including the fellowship.

“It’s fun and it’s outgoing and it gets you out of the house and around new people and allows you to have fellowship,” she said. “It’s been special to me.”

Carter enjoys talking with other mothers during the meetings and taking a much needed break from her two children.

“As a stay-at-home mom, you’re kind of it 24 hours a day 7 days a week,” Carter said. “My husband, he’s at work until 8 p.m., so its really just me and my kids like all day long, and it’s nice to have a mini break where it’s just you and you get to be yourself.”

Although the organization encourages moms to participate, at the moment it has room for 15 members. The limitation is due to the amount of childcare workers the group has available to watch members’ children during meetings.

But Clevelle said this will change as they hire more childcare workers.

“We’re doing everything we can to try to accommodate any mom that wants to come in,” she said.

Members meet bimonthly, the first and third Wednesday of the month, at Faith Family Church of the Nazarene on 1400 Main St. in Los Lunas.

For more information about MOPS, contact Alyssa Clevelle at mops@faithfamilyloslunas.org, or call Faith Family Church of the Nazarene at 350-3944.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.