November is usually regarded as the month of gratitude. I had these grand plans that I was going to use that time on this tiny blog to pause, reflect, and write about what I was truly grateful for. Well, that didn’t happen as I intended (I am currently teaching Of Mice and Men and appreciating the symbolism connected to this), but I am grateful for a whole lot of things, some of them featured below:
When I was in grade school, on those cold winter days when getting out from under a sleepy down comforter was an unfathomable idea, my mom, all knowing, master of comfort, would greet me with a cup of hot chocolate: steam rising, powdered cocoa stuck to the edges, dehydrated marshmallows floating on top. On the stove, oatmeal simmering on low and the oven on and open a crack.
“Here, stand here.” She would indicate, navigating me to the warm spot on the kitchen mat in front of the oven, my hands cupped around a warm ceramic mug.
This wasn’t an everyday occurrence. It was saved for the most bitter of days when cold seeped through window panes and between floorboards and everything seemed lifeless, gloomy, and unwelcoming. On these days, my mom transformed an icy raw morning into one of comfort and warmth.
I get the same feelings during my MOPS meetings. They are a break in the dark loneliness that motherhood can sometimes bring.
When I walk through the church doors and to my MOPS tribe, I know I will be surrounded by others like me: bedraggled, exhausted, so encompassed by our children that we often forget about ourselves. MOPS reminds me that there is comfort out there.
It is a time to chat, kid-free, with a new friend (I love that shirt on you! Tell me about your weekend.), to laugh over shared mid-week catastrophes (potty-training disasters, picky eaters, temper tantrums), to eat a plate of food (a grandma’s famous breakfast casserole, donuts from the grocery store.) with both hands, to ask for prayer and thought (I need more patience this week. I’m struggling with anger.) It is a quiet place to re-center and focus on what is important, to lean on someone’s shoulder one week and be that shoulder the next, both literally and figuratively. Together we mourn losses. Together we celebrate life. Together we share the moments that shape our motherhood. Together we gather in the warmth of fellowship.
It’s a reminder that, no matter what creed or church we subscribe to, we all have faith. Faith in something greater. Faith in the goodness of life. Faith in ourselves and each other. Faith that, contrary to current behavior, eventually, our kids will in fact master potty-training.
MOPS reminds me of my mom because of its innate maternal quality. MOPS offers us a chance to stop and breathe, surrounded by comfort, love, and warmth, giving us the strength to tackle what lays ahead.
And the coffee is pretty great, too.