(This article appeared in the Douglas County Empire Press on Sept. 28.)
As a young mother, Waterville resident Sunnie Wright has found that there is something very special and important about relationships with other young mothers. Other mothers understand the ups and downs, the good days and bad days that can accompany parenting young children. Sharing stories and sometimes laughs together helps it all seem more manageable.
Wright wants to build opportunities for young mothers in Waterville to bond with each other by starting a branch of the group called Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). She has been working since this past spring to do research on the idea and to set up funding and volunteers for bimonthly meetings.
Her efforts are about to come to fruition with the first meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 4 at United Lutheran Church. The group will then meet at this time the first Tuesday and third Saturday of every month.
United Lutheran Church has made funds available to support the first year of the program. Volunteers have also committed to providing refreshments and childcare.
Wright said that for most MOPS groups around the country there is a quarterly fee to participate, but the sponsorship of the church makes it possible to run the Waterville program at no cost to the participants this year.
The MOPS program sends curriculum to the groups. This includes videos of speakers, craft projects and game ideas for each meeting. It also includes a curriculum for the children, who are cared for separately. The arrangement gives moms a break from childcare for a few hours and a chance to enjoy the program with the other moms.
“It’s hard to get out when you have kids. It can be a very isolating time,” Wright said.
The program is open to mothers of infants through kindergarteners, and even women who are pregnant with their first child. MOPS is a Christian organization, but the curriculum is intended to be comfortable for everyone.
“They try to stick on things that are very universal for mothering,” Wright said.
This year’s theme is “We Are the Starry Eyed.” Individual meetings will focus on a variety of emotions — often contrasting — that young mothers experience and help them to embrace these emotions. The meetings will especially focus on wonder, hope and kindness.
MOPS programs typically run through the school year. Wright is planning to run the program on a normal schedule through October and November, to have a Christmas party in December, and then to run again on a normal schedule from January through May.
During the summer, the group may have a few get-togethers to stay in touch.
For more information, contact Wright at 860-5222 or visit the group’s Facebook page at Waterville MOPS.
(Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen. Sunnie Wright poses with her son Eli and her daughter Ivy. Wright is starting a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group in Waterville.)