For those unfamiliar, MOPS is an international Christian chartered organization which stands for "Mothers of Preschoolers" and includes moms who are expecting their first child up through those whose youngest child is pre-kindergarten. In other words, if you are about to be a mom or have a child who isn't old enough to enter kindergarten yet, you qualify. ;) If you fit that description and would like more information about it and how to find a group near you, you can visit their website here.
I love MOPS. I've been a member of a MOPS group in three different towns and loved every one of them. Each one is unique with their own traditions and the way they organize their meetings but there is at least one thing that they all have in common. They are all made up of mothers looking to connect with other mothers through friendship and seeking support and guidance from those experiencing the same struggles that they face. We all need to belong somewhere. We all need a place where we feel understood and encouraged that we're not alone (and we're not crazy. haha). Raising a small child is not for the faint of heart. It is down and dirty work, literally. (I still remember the time when I found my precious brood laughing and jumping on the bed with a bottle of chocolate syrup in their hand (and not a care in the world) and watching in horror as it sprayed all over the room...or the time I went to get my son up from his nap only to find that he'd taken off his diaper and decided to "fingerpaint" all over his crib.) Ah, but there is no greater gift on this earth than a child. The rewards of motherhood make the days of finding yourself knee deep in chocolate syrup and poop well worth it. (Some of you will just have to take my word for it on that one. :))
MOPS offers a safe place to share stories like these, even laugh about them (otherwise, we'd just cry but that would be o.k. too. ;)), with moms who understand what we're going through and those who may be a little further along in their motherhood journey but not so far removed that they've forgotten what it was like. Let's face it. The older we get, the easier it becomes to forget about how hard it was to rear a preschooler. We remember the good times and have a tendency to romanticize the past. I know this because I'm already succumbing to it myself. As our youngest is nearing the age of 4, I'm realizing how odd it feels to not have a baby or a toddler in the house anymore. I love kids and have always wanted at least 4 to call my own (that number used to be as high as 10. Yeah, I'm crazy like that. ;)). I wouldn't necessarily say that I've got baby fever right now. I'd just say that I have selective memory. Yes, babies are adorable and fun to snuggle up with. They also cry, spit-up, poop their pants, and frequently require attention at 2 a.m. Actually, they just require attention period. They can easily wreak havoc on any schedule, too. Going anywhere with an infant is a major feat given all the preparation involved in anticipating every possible need (bottles, extra clothes, diapers, binkies, etc.), not to mention the baby gear to tote around for longer trips (infant carrier, stroller, pack-n-play, etc.). So, yes. It's nice for young mothers to have a place to visit with other mothers who have just been through it or are going through it. Those going through it remind us that we're not crazy and we're not alone; those who have just been there offer encouragement that we will survive it all and the time will go by way too fast.
But MOPS is not just about raising small children and being a better mother. It's also about being a better wife, a better woman, a better person, a better Christian, a better you. Our meeting today focused more on the aspect of being a better wife. With Valentine's Day around the corner, the timing couldn't be more perfect. In the hustle and bustle of raising kids and keeping house, us moms can sometimes lose sight of our spouse and his needs. We're tired. We've been touched and tugged on all day and would love a little alone time to just...be. We've spent most of our day taking care of our children's needs that we neglect the one they need most...their foundation here on earth, which is the love between their mother and father. That's how they got here in the first place, isn't it? In most cases, anyway. We need to make time for our husbands. We need to appreciate them and all that they do. They work hard too. It's not always convenient to pack a lunch for my husband in the morning before he goes to work or brew him some coffee. It's not always easy for me to walk away from the dishes in the sink or the laundry on the couch aching to be folded to go sit beside him and watch a show on television. My attitude isn't always what it should be. Instead of being grateful that he wants me to spend time with him and rest and that that's more important to him than the dishes in the sink or the laundry on the couch, I'm thinking about all the things that need doing. I don't do this all the time. Many times I welcome the opportunity to sit and snuggle. Truth be known, I'm a terrible housekeeper. I'm determined to be better about that. A tidy home is a happier home and I want that for my family and for my marriage.
Of course, every woman knows that you can't talk about being a better wife without talking about sex. (That's not typically a subject that we discuss in a MOPS meeting...except when discussing how to be a better wife. ;)) My grandfather is a Marriage and Family Therapist and I've heard him say many times that men get married so they can have sex (although sadly, in today's culture that's not always necessary anymore). Women, on the other hand, typically get married for security and financial support. Despite what pop culture would have us believe, as a general rule men and women are wired differently. This has been true since the dawn of time. Men need sex. Women crave affection. Emily read a quote from a book today that does a pretty good job of summing up the difference between men and women in relation to sex. I'm paraphrasing but it went something like this, "Women have sex when they feel loved. Men have sex to feel loved." It's true, right?
Our discussion today got me to thinking about mine and my husband's relationship (Don't worry. I'm not going to get super personal. My mom reads this blog, after all. ;)). Maybe you've heard of the 5 love languages? Honestly, I don't know what my love language is. I have a feeling that there are several in competition for first place. Acts of service is probably up there somewhere. A little weird since that's typically a male need, but for some strange reason, Justin is so sexy when he's washing dishes or making dinner. haha At those times, I've been known to tell him things like, "I've never been more attracted to you in my entire life." or "You are the absolute sexiest thing ever right now." I used to thrive on affection but I don't think that one has been at the top of the list for quite a while. That probably has a lot more to do with having little monkeys crawling around me all day and just being "touched out" by the end of the day. As our kids become increasingly more independent, I expect that that love language will creep back up the ladder. I also really like to receive gifts. They don't have to be physical things, either. I have always loved surprises (although it's probably pretty hard to surprise me since I usually start planning something before anyone else has a chance.). There's just something about a gift, whether tangible or intangible, that lets me know that person took the time to think of me. They took the time to plan this. They spent money on me. I must be really special to them. I think it's possible for your love language to change depending on what season of life you're in. That seems horribly unfair for the men, though, doesn't it? They are basically simple creatures who typically want sex. (Obviously, that's not all they want but it almost always ranks near the top.) We women are usually more complicated than that. Frankly, we're finicky and we change our minds. We would do well to remember our differences when it comes to our spouse. He's a man. He talks like a man, he walks like a man, he thinks like a man, and he acts like a man. He needs us to treat him like a man. By the same token, we talk, walk, think, and act like women. It takes a little effort to figure us out. :)
So, I went off on a little tangent there, but this gives you a little snapshot into the sorts of things we talk about in a MOPS meeting. You never know where a subject may lead but they almost always involve laughter in some form or fashion. Humor has such a healing power. Can you imagine a large group of mothers with small children whose typical day probably involves singing "The Veggie Tales Theme Song" in the van on the way home or breastfeeding an infant 6-8 times a day or saying things like "let's go potty" or "oh, look! There's a moo-cow!" talking about sex? Not exactly the picture of romance, but romance has many faces and forms. A healthy marriage is the end goal, and that's the most romantic thing ever. :)
- I'm a mother of 3 who started blogging as a way to share our many adventures and to expand beyond the everyday "mommy world". While there IS so much more to us mommies than the title, there is very little that doesn't in some way or another lead us back to or influence our children...if anything. So, I hope you enjoy following our family's randomness, because as all moms know- you can never anticipate what tomorrow will bring! Thanks for visiting and have a blessed day! :)