I hear there are a lot of new moms joining us at MOPS this year. Welcome!
You might be someone who loves to jump into new social environments and does so with ease and grace and an inborn gift of gab. MOPS will be great for you!
You might be someone who, although you know you need to go to MOPS, doesn’t necessarily want to go to MOPS. You might know that it will be good for you and keep you from going crazy or becoming a hermit mom with a two-year-old’s vocabulary, but maybe nothing scares you more than a room full of new women or sitting down at a table with seven strangers and…talking. You might be an introvert. MOPS will be great for you, too!
Two years ago, when a friend recommended MOPS to me it was definitely more a need than a want. I don’t gravitate toward people to recharge when I’m feeling worn down. I tend to go for a run, or curl up with a book…anything by myself. That said, I realized that as a young mom I very much needed a community of women, of support, around me to help me through this challenging time. And so do you.
This is for you introverts new to MOPS; let’s talk you through that first meeting coming up. You can do this.
STEP 1: Change out of your pajamas and get out the door. (Don’t underestimate the importance of this; mornings are hard. For me, it depends on how my older two got out the door to catch the school bus. Sometimes changing out of my pajamas is all I can manage, and that is enough.)
STEP 2: Smile and nod hello to at least one mom you don’t know (maybe that nervous frazzled one in sweat – I mean yoga – pants) in the hallway as you walk back from dropping off your small, crying child (don’t worry; they’ll be okay). You don’t even have to talk yet; a friendly nod will do.
STEP 3: Find your table, and don’t feel bad if you sit down instead of mingling. I do this all the time. Chances are, some friendly experienced MOPS mom will come join you anyway. This will be my third year in MOPS, and I’m still relieved when a mentor mom comes around announcing breakfast. Unstructured social time stresses me out.
STEP 4: Don’t panic when breakfast and announcements are followed by an icebreaker activity. You’ve been forewarned. Icebreakers can be painful for the more-introverted, I know, but you’ll get through it and you might even surprise yourself and find it fun…sometimes.
STEP 5: Enjoy the speaker. I’m always amazed at the depth and variety of speakers lined up each year that breathe new life and hope into our relationships, faith, work, and parenting. This is your chance to sit back, relax, take a deep breath and listen. You will learn so much.
STEP 6: Group discussions can be intimidating but I encourage you to speak up at least once. Share something you feel, you’ve experienced, or you hope for. Your contribution is so valuable and it is enough; you are enough.
STEP 7: Each meeting ends with a craft or service project. Thinking back to my teen years, the best way for my very introverted father and my fairly introverted self to communicate was to go for a walk or do the dishes together. Somehow activity takes the focus and pressure off of conversation, and it can be a delightful time of fellowship–silent pauses and all.
STEP 8: Go get your small child–hopefully they are not crying anymore–scoop them up, nuzzle their warm neck, and inhale their familiar scent. Tell them they how brave they are and how proud you are of them. And tell yourself the same.
We are so happy to have you with us this year. Let your light shine; be sure to allow the women sitting around you a peek into your amazing mind and bless them with your incredible, gentle heart. I guarantee you will be blessed tenfold in return.
Extroverts, if you are still reading (and I hope you are), take the time to get to know the quiet women at your table; they have so much to offer. And thank you for being there, for filling in, and giving the rest of us a chance to listen.
Ida Fischer has been involved in MOPS for 2 years and now serves as a Discussion Group Leader. She is married to Maarten and mother to Sam (9), Noa (7), and Mylo (4). She enjoys everything outdoors, reading, and spending time alone to paint. You can find her blog and artwork at Ida Fischer Art and Illustration.