On september 1st, 2010, at 1:16pm, my sweet Olivia was born. At about 1:18pm, my mother-in-law peered down at her sweet little grand baby, and with a radiant grandmotherly love all over her face, in a hushed reverent tone, she looked at me and said “So, you’re gonna do MOPs right?”
Okay, that might be a dramatic retelling of the story. The more accurate version of that story is that she probably asked me while I was still pregnant.
At any rate, I really had no idea what she was talking about. I’d heard her mention this group before, and once I realized it wasn’t a group for floor cleaning enthusiasts, I was ready to hear more. And so I said:
Me- “So what is it?”
Her- “Well it’s ‘Mothers Of Preschoolers’ and we get together at these meetings twice a month on friday mornings. There’s hot food for breakfast that you actually get to eat hot, without any interruptions from little ones. Sometimes we make a craft. There’s usually a speaker, there to teach us about something, or sometimes we watch a video. And did I mention your kids are in childcare the whole time? And it’s two hours? Child free? And you get to meet other moms who are in your season of life and make new friends.”
Me- “Uh huh. Right. I don’t think I get it. And, you know, she’s probably gonna do this morning nap thing for a while and so maybe when she’s done with that we’ll revisit this idea.”
Oh gosh, I was an idiot. By child two, believe me, I was very much aware to just stop listening at “someone else will be watching your child” and say yes. That scary looking punk band wants to watch my kids? You know what, I bet they do a killer version of Twinkle Twinkle. Sign me up.
I’m about to start my 6th year in MOPs and I totally get it. I get why she couldn’t say much more than a brief description that you could find on a website.
1) because it’s a different experience for everyone and
2) it’s just so much more than you can put into words.
(not that that ever stops me from trying)
(and then I stared at the computer screen for a very long time. i cracked my knuckles a whole bunch…put on some essential oil infused thick hand lotion…GET IT TOGETHER WOMAN. FOCUS.)
For the first 2 years of MOPs, that basic description? That’s all it was for me. I’m shy. I’m awkward. I don’t love small talk with strangers. It scares me a little. So I came, dropped off my kid, ate my breakfast, talked to my mother-in-law (who was there in a mentoring role), talked to my one other friend from my life group, listened to the speaker and left. I’m sure I wore my “please don’t talk to me” face very well. Not that that kept everyone away. Plenty of ladies saw my face and said “I’m free of my children, your scared little face isn’t gonna keep me from socializing right now. So, how many kids do you have? Girl or boy? Oh you’re pregnant again? How far along?” and so on and so forth. I usually kinda felt like a jerk because I never really asked any questions back. I was just too nervous to even come up with a basic “how many kids do you have?” But, to quote a few of my lovely southern belle friends, Bless their hearts, they just kept talking to me anyway.
Little by little, I started to see the light. During one meeting, I shared that my 2 1/2 year old had eaten virtually nothing but peanut butter and jelly for a whole year. Maybe by the next meeting, the one friend I already kinda knew told me she’d had a neighbor who was beating herself up about the fact that her kid barely ate and she’d shared what I’d said about mine and the girl immediately looked so relieved. And the first in what would be a series of many tiny light bulbs went off. That is what this group is about. Hearing that “me too”. Not feeling alone. Not feeling like you’re the ONLY one whose kid wakes up ten times a night just to make you put the blanket back on him. Even though he can now do it himself. Not feeling like you’re the only one who needs to sit in her closet and cry because for just a few moments, you feel like you hate your kids and maybe you should just move to Guantanamo because that could be like a spa compared to the day you just had.
Now, I didn’t feel alone. My best friend was in the exact same season of life as me, and we have a gloriously honest relationship where we share all of that stuff. Ugly or not. But the tribe of people you surround yourself with to help you through this time? It does not have a size limit. It’s a “the more the merrier” situation. There’s always a new perspective to hear. And to be honest, my favorite part is being the one that helps someone else not to feel alone. Getting to feel that way myself is just a perk. But MOPs is even more than just that “me too”.
It’s the love, ya’ll. These ladies are not shy or stingy with their love. And it is contagious. Their love of coffee, Jesus, wine, chocolate, quiet time, their kids (i.e. not quiet time), their husbands, Starbucks, helping complete strangers, encouraging scared newbies to open up, sharing their lives, coffee. Did I mention coffee?
I have seen moms completely new to the area, join our group and post on our Facebook page about a need that they have and have it immediately be met by more than one mom. Even though they’ve never even met. Or maybe they met briefly at one meeting.
I have seen moms make signs to go stand outside the door of another mom that was facing a scary surgery.
I have seen more kind, loving, encouraging words for a mom who really needed to hear it than I can count.
I have seen boatloads of tears as we’ve had to send some of our moms off to other states to follow their husbands and those pesky military orders or other career opportunities.
I have seen so, so many laughs. Which has resulted in many many very real conversations about how much fun it is having babies. And that fun side effect of peeing your pants a little when you laugh. And then we laugh about that too.
I have seen moms sit long hours side by side in sadness and tragedy.
I have seen countless meals delivered to moms celebrating new little joys.
I have seen moms bravely stand up in front of our large crowd and share their lives, their experiences, their fears, their eccentricities, their joys and their laughs.
There’s a lot of love in this group. And a lot of realness. And, sadly and yet also not, a lot of pants peeing. Can’t quite put that on the website.
So, getting around to the title of this post. I got this tattoo almost 3 years ago.
It’s from a song by a group called “for King and Country”. This is the chorus:
Let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
The song is about Jesus and that one line, let my love look like you, it just stuck in my brain. Let me be someone who can love the people around me the way He wants me to and show His love to everyone. And man, does this group do that. More and more, over these short years, I found myself wanting my love to look like the love I saw these moms giving out, because their love really does look like His. They rub off on you and they can’t help but make you better. A better mom, friend, sister, wife. Whether you want to try to be invisible while you eat your breakfast or not.
And bonus, they make some killer hash browns.
Super bonus, this amazing group of ladies has changed me so much. Believe it or not, this formerly scared girl was actually one of those ladies that got up in front of our huge crowd and shared my story and is the co-coordinator of our group this year. I may still hide so I can eat my breakfast, but i’m not afraid of small talk anymore :)
- Tiffany Kohout -
Over the course of the next year we look forward to bringing you posts from members of our steering team, our mentor moms, MOPS Volunteer Staff and the MACC pastoral staff!