This week, I reluctantly attended my very first MOPS meeting. Most know that MOPS stands for mothers of preschoolers, and since my daughter won’t be a preschooler for another few years, I was a little confused about why I was invited in the first place. It turns out that MOPS, or at least the MOPS group that meets at Gum Branch Baptist Church, has branched out and now offers support and fellowship to moms of children who haven’t yet started elementary school.
To be honest, it wasn’t my daughter’s age that had me hesitant to attend. I’m always nervous about becoming one of “those” moms. You know the ones. They trade in their stilettos for a comfy pair of sneakers. Flirty dresses transform into stained T-shirts and tattered “mom jeans.” Women who once spent their free time reading novels on the best-sellers lists no longer remember what free time is but can recite every line and phrase from a book of nursery rhymes.
But I went anyway, even though it meant getting out of the house with a baby before 9 a.m. Within about three minutes of walking in the door I realized the unthinkable had happened. It’s too late for me. I’m already one of “those” moms. Without any help from organizations like MOPS and despite my fears, the transformation is complete. I’m the mom who flaps her arms like a lunatic in the middle of the grocery store to keep her child smiling. Privacy has become the moment when the blanket is over my head during peek-a-boo.
And all of my misconceptions about MOPS faded away. It’s just a bunch of normal, loving and slightly crazed moms looking for a little support and an opportunity for them and their kids to make friends. It was nice, though predictably hectic, and encouraging to see that what I already have become really is just the right way to be.
Sure, when I head out to the movies with my husband on a Sunday afternoon (because we’re too cheap for anything but a matinee anymore), I’ll dig out the flirty dress and try my best not to worry about my baby, who’s in great hands with a close friend. To most everyone, I’ll look like a typical 20-something on a date with her typical 20-something soldier. But I’ll know — and you’ll know — that I’m still one of “those” moms — and kind of proud of it.