As we considered our MOPs theme the year, we turned to the nine needs every mother must have met, which are listed on your MOPS pamphlet. Our goal as a Team is to apply ourselves to meeting these needs for each of you and ourselves.
The first need we will consider is Growth. As moms, the most amazing phenomenon we notice in our infant is her amazing capacity for growth. In a hidden place, she has grown exponentially before we ever view her first little hand. This amazing, miraculous growth, this ever-changing, magical, charming growth continues after birth. He mews and spits and then one day he rolls over and sits up. He doubles his birth weight. Growth is most natural to a child, and if growth does not occur, it is a cause for concern. Children grow, and adults exclaim how big he is getting! And we wonder where our baby has gone as he toddles away from us.
The truth of it is that what is not growing is dying. We notice this if we garden at all. A tree that is not growing is decaying. A relationship that does not discover new facets is weakening and dying. Growth is essential to life. It becomes obvious to us as we leave our twenties that physical growth becomes outward if it is not curtailed, but we still continue the natural process of growing. Instead of physical growth, we apply ourselves to growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
Learning something new actually preserves the mental processes—whether it is parenting skills, knitting, cooking, basket weaving, marketing, or photography. Those who study the aging process have noted that those who are acquiring new skills even into their senior years can prevent the loss of mental acuity that disturbs some elderly. Once my children were in school, I ran for the Board of Education, learning political skills and campaigning, and then learning administration, attending seminars and workshops. I became involved in the Right to Life Movement, learning about the abortion industry, the impact of abortion on the lives of women. As president of WV for Life, I developed the political skills to influence legislation, the leadership skills to lead a non-profit organization, and the fundraising skills to maintain its growth. I attended conventions and led workshops. In this brave new world, I applyied myself to studying the morality of artificially creating life with cloning and stem cell research. I have never given my mind time to go fallow.
These roles have challenged me to grow emotionally. I cannot build a team by alienating folks who want to help, so I must control my emotions, channel them, build the good, motivating skills and curbing the offensive, driving behaviors that cause relationship problems. And, of course, because that kind of growth is so hard, I have to turn to the One Who made me so fearfully and wonderfully—thus we have spiritual growth.
I have had many jobs in my life—student, researcher, telephone operator, social worker, teacher, and principal. But none has required me to gow quite as much as being a wife and mother. Being a mom is the only job that will require you to lay your life down 24-hours a day. If you are sick or tired, mad or sad, that totally dependent infant will not survive if you don’t get up and tend to her! You will have to learn the symptoms of the latest virus and the proper amounts of medications. To fully enjoy and develop your children, you should learn about personality types and adjust to each temperament—and each child is unique, so you will do that again and again. Then you realize each child has his own learning style, and what enables one child to learn is different from his sibling. You will grow intellectually, devouring books and tapes, and Mop magazines.
You will either grow emotionally or have a nervous breakdown raising children. You cannot throw yourself on the floor beside your two year old because no one would be in control. You cannot defend yourself when they scream: “I hate you,” because you are the mother. (Besides, you know they don’t really mean that, they hate their impotence, they hate being disciplined, and in a few short moments they will be reaching out for your love and approval again.) You learn to hold your temper, to count to ten or give yourself a time out. You learn that just because your husband doesn’t say I love you, he really does, and you don’t need to hear it repeated all the time. You learn that when you give sacrificial love, it is multiplied back to you.
And most of all, when you finally realize you don’t have all the answers—in fact, you just wish you had one answer occasionally—you will come to the end of yourself and recognize the most important growth we need is in our relationship with the One Who does have all the answers. Take time to tend to your spirit. Read, meditate, spend time with those who have walked with God and learn from them. One of my spiritual mentors told me: “always remember, there is more ‘caught’ than ‘taught,” so hang around those you would like to become, and catch it.
So this year we will hang around each other, because none of us have all the answers, but all of us have some answers. We will listen to each other, share together, laugh together, learn together and grow together. This is what MOPS is all about.
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