Mommy Groups & Cinderella

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by the story of Cinderella.

Here was this girl who had a rough go of it but she worked hard and followed all the rules and her life turned out happily ever after. She made it seem so easy.

As a teenager, I assumed if I worked hard and followed all the rules, my life should turn out happily ever after, too.  Makes total sense, right?

(I know, I know. Quit laughing.)

These days, when the dishes and the laundry are piled up and there’s some unidentifiable stain on my clothes and I have to think really hard to remember if I brushed my teeth this morning, I wanna throw something at Cinderella. Seriously. Even during her floor-scrubbing days, she looked perfectly lovely and was always ready to try on new shoes.

I think Mommy Groups can be a lot like Cinderella.

When I first walked into my MOPS group, I was such a mess.  I felt like I was failing at just about every aspect of my life. Just that morning, I had yelled at my kids, snapped at my husband, and the dishes from last night’s fairly unhealthy convenience meal were still in the sink.

The ladies I met that Wednesday morning were very welcoming and sweet, but I honestly considered not going back.  They were all so put together.  They all had real clothes on.  And smelled nice.  It sounded like their families were perfect.  Being there, in the presence of these moms, confronted the idea I’d been clinging to that no mom was perfect and no one had it all together.  Because these women obviously did.

They were just like Cinderella.

I am so glad that I eventually decided to go back.  Within a few meetings, I began to get to know their stories.  These women who seemed so perfect?  They had the same fears I did.  They felt the same sense of failure.  They had overcome hardships, too.  Once our walls came down, the relationships were built up and bonds were formed.

I took another look at Miss Cinderella.

Now, I like to imagine her with mashed carrots stuck in her tiara and the royal diaper genie overflowing. I wonder if her daily mom uniform would be a pair of yoga pants with “Princess” bedazzled across the seat. I’ll even admit to giggling at the idea of that beautiful glass carriage with cheerios smashed into the upholstery.

I bet she might have even felt kind of alone while Prince Charming was off running the kingdom.  She probably only had her two step-sisters around to give her the amazing parenting advice that comes so easily to people without children.

Real life is not a fairy tale. Not even close. Real life is messy. It’s hard. And it can be lonely.

This is what I love about MOPS and why I feel it is so incredibly important in the life of a mom. When we can connect with other women who are experiencing the same unique season of life and are fighting the same battles and asking the same questions, we begin to see we’re not alone in this.  We are given the opportunity to look around the room and see that we have sisters with us in the trenches of motherhood.  Despite my mess, I know we all have our messes, and together, we can support and encourage each other.

A good mommy group will provide a safe place to tear down walls and reveal the vulnerability hidden there, allowing us a chance to say, “Me, too!” and then relationships are built from the ground up. But we have to be willing to go to that sometimes scary place of honest reality.

Mommy groups have the potential to be absolutely life-changing. But whether for the better or for the worse, I learned, is up to me.

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Time For MOPS (with one more Let It Go parody)


Time for MOPSSometimes – okay, maybe a lot of times – motherhood can be very lonely.

A few years ago, I was just on this side of Caleb’s autism diagnosis with Grace in the terrible twos and Jake in nursing school.  Most of my friends had moved away.  I was feeling pretty lonely when a new friend invited me to a meeting of MOPS (mothers of preschoolers).

MOPS International “is a grassroots movement that believes moms are world influencers.” (MOPS.org)  It has been one of the best things I have ever experienced.  I know not all “mommy groups” are actually beneficial to a mom’s sanity.  Sometimes, they can be cliquish and competitive and miserable.  But not this one!  This group of women has been caring, supportive, and fun.

The best way to build relationships is to first tear down the walls we have surrounding our vulnerability.  And the only way to get a group of mamas to do that is to be willing to say, “I’ll go first.”  So last year, I volunteered to coordinate the group with another awesome mom.

It’s been an amazing year.  We wrapped up our theme, “A Beautiful Mess – Embrace Your Story,” and are so excited to get going with plans for next year’s theme, “Be You Bravely.”  If you’re not a part of MOPS, I definitely recommend it!

I recommend it so much that, even though there are a million and one parodies of Let It Go, my friend, Courtney, and I wrote our own version because MOPS needs one, too!  Think of it as a jingle.  =)

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Time for MOPS! (to the tune of Let It Go)

A mess spread wide in the kitchen tonight
Not a helper to be seen.
A kingdom of dirty dishes
And it looks like I’m the queen.

The baby’s howling despite everything I’ve tried.
Can’t keep thoughts straight. My brain is fried.

Where are my keys? My phone is where?
Can’t remember when I washed my hair.
But just hang on – We’re almost there.
We’re almost there!

Time for MOPS. Time for MOPS.
Yoga pants are welcome here.
Grab a chair. Sit right there.
Eat food you don’t have to share!

Coffee flows.
You don’t have to wipe a nose.
You just sit and breathe!
Maybe during crafts, we’ll make a wreath.

It’s funny how these cuties
Can make us feel insane.
But twice a month, we’re reminded –
“Mom” is not my name.

It’s time to see what we can do
(Besides laundry or cleaning poo).
It’s Wednesday morning and I’m free –
To be me!

Time for MOPS. Love this place!
They show me love and grace.
Mentor moms, chats galore.
I’m always learning more.

Here I come
Down Killarney Way!
So glad it’s Wednesday!!!

The laughter’s floating through the air – I love that sound!
My troubles lifted by these sisters I have all around.
Through highs and lows, I know we’ll have each other’s back.
I know who I can call
When my mind’s about to crack!

Time for MOPS. Time for MOPS.
There’s a place for everyone.
Moms Night Out – Give a shout!
They’re always so much fun.

So here I am!
And here I’ll stay!
Let the coffee flow!

I might age out but I’ll never go.