Mothers of Preschoolers group gives moms a breakFARGO – For Rachelle Rieck, her MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group is her oasis. It’s one of the only times she gets away from her kids without being at work, said Rieck, who has two sons, ages 3 years and 7 months.
By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM
FARGO – For Rachelle Rieck, her MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group is her oasis.
It’s one of the only times she gets away from her kids without being at work, said Rieck, who has two sons, ages 3 years and 7 months.
About twice a month, the group of moms gathers at Fargo’s Atonement Lutheran Church for fun, friendship and the chance to get away from their kids for a little while.
While the moms in the MOPS group do activities like talk about kids’ birthday party ideas, play socializing games and work on craft projects, their kids get playtime with other children their age and caregivers.
Rieck, who lives in Casselton and serves on the group’s steering committee, said she likes the camaraderie of the group.
“It’s a place where you can go and meet other moms for lifelong friendships and the kids meet for lifelong friendships,” she said.
MOPS, an international Christian nonprofit organization that started in 1973 to bring moms together for support and friendship, has 10 groups within a 50-mile radius of Fargo, according to mops.org.
Sarah Gunderson of Fargo is the Atonement group’s co-coordinator. She’s in her seventh year with the group and joined as a way to get to know more people in the community, she said.
“I wanted to find a group where I would be able to find other women going through the stages I was going through,” said Gunderson, who has four children ages 5 through 10. “Building people up, encouraging and just giving each other ideas and support, that’s what’s blessed my life.”
Taking part in the children’s program has helped with her kids’ social development, and they were always excited when Gunderson had meetings, she said.
Even if a mom has had a rough morning, it turns to joy pretty quickly once arriving at the meetings, Gunderson said.
“When you get here it’s just like a load is taken off and you’re here with your fellow MOP sisters who are ready to receive you and build you up,” she said.
The meetings also make her feel more energized to take on the rest of the day with her children, Gunderson said.
“It’s almost like a mommy vitamin,” she said.
Bridget Belter of rural Leonard, N.D., is a stay-at-home mom who farms. She said she joined the Atonement MOPS group because she wanted her 3-year-old son to socialize with other kids and she wanted to be able to connect with other moms.
“When you are a mother, you always feel like you are the only one going through this and so it’s really nice to talk to other people,” said Belter, who also has a 1-year-old son.
Joining the MOPS group helped Jennifer Pederson meet other moms after she and her husband moved to Fargo a year ago, she said.
“This is a group where I feel welcomed,” she said. “I have really started to make friendships and meet with some of the women outside of the group.”
The group also helped support Pederson, who has thyroid cancer, with meals and encouragement after her second surgery.
“That was really a great support for me and my husband while I was recovering because the surgery was pretty involved,” Pederson said. “That was a great way for them to show love and support during that time.”
While the group is for mothers of young children, some continue after their children have grown as mentor moms.
Anne Stevens of Fargo has been part of the Atonement MOPS group since it started in 1999. She has four children, ages 11 through 29 and while she is no longer the mother of a preschooler, she still participates as a mentor for other moms.
“It’s a wonderful ministry,” she said. “I want to give back being a mentor mom now because I know how much it meant to me to start and the friendships I formed and I just want to help continue that for the rest of the people.”
The Atonement MOPS meet twice a month and most meetings involve a speaker.
Most groups meet in churches and are for mothers with children in kindergarten or younger. There is a MOMSnext group at First United Methodist Church in Fargo for moms of children in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Fundraisers help cover expenses and MOPS members pay dues of $23.95 yearly for MOPS International and $5 per meeting. Scholarships are available for moms who cannot afford the dues.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526