by Rachael McMillan
I’m in charge of the mom’s group at my church. When I offered to take it over, I thought…Actually, I have no idea what I was thinking.
Last year was the group’s first, and it was a lot of fun. Moms showed up, we ate breakfast, chatted, and did mom-enriching activities. From afar, planning it seemed like a breeze.
And, some parts of it are kind of fun and or/easy to plan. But getting moms to come—how does one do that?
This is not to take anything away from the group we do have. On our first meeting of M3, or Moms Meeting Moms, six gals (myself included), showed up. I thank God for these ladies—wonderful gals all of them, with a lot of great perspectives to offer on motherhood. They truly seem a supportive bunch. And, to our credit, we have at least three more signed up who couldn’t make it this week for one reason or another, and a few more who are still trying to work it into their schedules.
It’s not enough.
Here’s why: On the morning of our first meeting, I got an email from one of the moms letting me know she couldn’t make it. I had really been looking forward to seeing her again after the long summer and getting her always-excellent input at our meeting. And, I really wanted her to help boost our group’s size. But, she just couldn’t make it.
I moaned and cursed my bad luck. And then, in the midst of feeling very sorry for myself, Mom’s Group Rule Number One popped into my head, fully formed: If you can’t make it, you can’t make it.
A mom’s group is supposed to be relaxing, enriching, and—as one group member put it—a form of “me” time. Sure, there are some hassles involved with getting the kids there and perhaps finagling a casserole or fruit salad to share. But it should never put undue stress on any mom to attend. That is the exact opposite of what the group is meant to do.
So, here’s the plug: If you’re not a member of a mom’s group yet (or, if you feel like you can take on one more), join up. It can be M3—details follow—or one of the other excellent groups we’ve got in our area, some of which are listed below. Joining benefits you, but it also benefits other moms. We were never meant to do this whole child-raising thing in a bubble; we moms need each others’ wisdom and support.
Moms Meeting Moms (M3)
This group meets every other Wednesday throughout the school year at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Urbana (non-Catholics are more than welcome) and is free to join. Free childcare is also provided. Each meeting consists of breakfast, social time, and a scheduled topic of discussion. Moms of kids of all ages are invited to attend. Contact Rachael McMillan (firstname.lastname@example.org) if interested.
The local chapter of this international group has moms-only meetings once a month and sponsors family-friendly playgroups and activities throughout the year. The cost of yearly membership is $45. Meetings are on the second Tuesday of the month at the Atlanta Bread Company in Champaign .
MOPS, which stands for Mothers of Preschoolers, is the international organization that wrote the book on moms’ groups for mothers of young children; there are several chapters in the area. In Mahomet, MOPS meets twice a month at Grace Church in Mahomet. Childcare is included in the $53.95 annual joining fee (the group meets from September through May). Check out their schedule of meeting topics and guest speakers for the year. The Champaign-Urbana chapter meets two Mondays a month, September through May.
If you work at the U of I and have kiddos, this Facebook group (also a Yahoo group) is a good information-sharing resource. The group also meets for lunch on the second Thursday of each month.
This group meets bi-monthly at St. Patrick Church in Tolono (different from M3, which meets at St. Pat’s in Urbana). The meetings are generally from 7:30-9:00 on Monday evenings. One meeting each month is a “formal” group meeting, the other serves as a more casual Girls Night Out. In addition, their website has a discussion board members can post on.
This group, open to mothers of multiples, has periodic dinner meetings and is also on Facebook. A great resource for you mommies of twins, triplets, and beyond!
Want to plug your mom group? Add the info in the comments below.
Rachael McMillan is a former high school teacher, social worker, cake decorator, and just about any other profession you can think of do-er. In addition to writing, tutoring, and giving talks about fair trade, she is currently staying home with the highly entertaining Jack and Kate.