“Every Mom is welcome at MOPS,” says Megan Narehood, the coordinator of the LaBelle chapter of MOPS.
MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is a Christian organization that welcomes all moms regardless of their faith or spiritual path. “MOPS is there to help moms on their journey of motherhood,” Megan adds.
“We believe that moms mother better when they mother together. We are building a tribe. Way back when, when people lived in tribes and huddled together over fires, every mother was the mother of the children of the tribe,” Megan said, “mothers shouldn’t have to mother alone.”
Megan feels very passionate about bringing this worldwide organization to LaBelle because when she first moved to LaBelle when her first daughter was born she was searching for an outlet to provide a sense of community. She had heard of a ‘Mommy and Me’ group but, being new to the area, she didn’t know how to find it. So, for the first year and a half of her daughter’s life she felt very alone. Narehood was a teacher at an elementary school before she had her children and when she decided to stay at home after the birth of her daughter she lost that sense of fellowship and being around other adults.
She did end up finding ‘Mommy and Me’ and ‘Story Time’ and she loved seeing her daughter blossom with the new community of moms and other children; but the thing that sets MOPS apart, and the reason she decided to become a coordinator of MOPS and bring it to LaBelle, is that it uniquely provides childcare, separate from the gathering of moms, so that the mothers have the opportunity to come together and share, with likeminded moms, in this set time of fellowship, learning, crafting, and building a tribe together without the sense of responsibility of watching their children while trying to do so.
“New moms could be suffering from postpartum depression or a thyroid imbalance like I had; and it helps to talk to other moms,” Megan says.
She believes that moms need advocates. Moms need other moms, who have gone before them, to let them know that they are doing a good job!
Megan, herself, was hesitant (even after hearing about a local MOPS organization in Lehigh) about attending a MOPS meeting because she had never left her daughter alone with anyone except family members before. Megan’s second daughter was admitted to and cared for in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) shortly after her birth. She had to trust the nurses in the NICU, whom she never met before, to watch her newborn daughter around the clock for nine days. Megan realized if her newborn daughter was okay being cared for by others, her three-year old daughter would be ok being watched by others outside of family as well. She felt comfortable enough to leave her three-year old in the care of MOPS childcare and attended a MOPS meeting in Lehigh Acres. Because of her experience of the complications with her newborn in the NICU, and the anxiety she was having from that, she knew she wanted to see what MOPS had to offer.
“When I attended MOPS in Lehigh Acres I saw that people share their stories and the positive impact that can have. There was a story about a mom who had a baby and found out she had downs syndrome. The baby was going into the NICU and had to undergo a lot of tests.” Narehood tells me, “and there was a mom who had a child with autism who could relate to her. I could relate to the NICU part of her story,” she added.
Expectant mothers and mothers with children from birth through Kindergarten can attend MOPS meetings. MOPS believes that it is important for mothers to be a part of a community even before their baby is born.
Once a child enters First Grade the moms graduate to the Moms Next program.
Every MOPS meeting in LaBelle will provide childcare by the nursery staff of the First Christian Church in LaBelle whom have all completed background checks; This way, the mothers can meet, talk, and participate in the scheduled lesson plan, without feeling the added pressure of attending to their children while knowing that their children are safe and cared for.
MOPS isn’t just a social outlet either. MOPS began in Colorado in February of 1973 when eight mothers got together to eat, craft, and talk while their children were being cared for. By 1981 it had grown into an incorporated entity and in 1988 expanded outside the United States.
MOPS specializes in finding the gifts and talents of the moms involved and honing leaderships skills and provides leadership training as a part of the path, if the mother is interested in such a venture.
Megan Narehood is a certified teacher for grades K-6 and has worked with children of varying ages for years so she is very much looking forward to this chapter of teaching on her own journey. “I am passionate about helping mothers,” she says.
The meetings will consist of a light breakfast with a meet and greet, followed by a video lesson, and then a few questions designed to prompt conversation around the topic that is planned for that week. The meetings will also provide a time to participate in a crafting session. “MOPS believes if you are engaged in a craft or other activity the conversation will flow more freely,” Megan says.
August 23 will be the first meeting. The meetings will be the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. The meetings also follow the Hendry County School calendar.
The MOPS meetings will be held at the First Christian Church at 138 Ford Avenue in LaBelle.
Megan is also planning on having ‘Mom’s Night Out’ events when mothers could arrange for a babysitter and have some sort of in-town get together like meeting at the coffee shop to play some board games or going to the ice cream shop for a social hour or so. “I want to try to keep the ‘Mom’s night out’ based in town because if you travel to Fort Myers you lose two hours in travel time alone. It’s hard to get a babysitter for that long sometimes,” says Narehood.
If you are interested in finding out more about MOPS, Megan is planning to have interest meetings at Barron Library, located at 461 N Main St, every Friday in August from 10:30-11:30 a.m. leading up to their first meeting on August 23. Megan has also started a Facebook page called “MOPS of LaBelle” and she can be reached there or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also go to MOPS.org for more information on the MOPS organization and their history or if you are interested in starting a MOPS group of your own you can go to http://www.mops.org/get-started/start-a-group.