We meet every first and third Tuesday at Brentwood Neighborhood Church.
I remember walking through the doors to my first meeting and feeling like I had entered a place of healing and hope for frazzled motherhood, which subsequently turned out to be an accurate impression. Fellowship is a key ingredient of all Simply Moms meetings, which begin with a big breakfast. Something powerful happens when you share a meal with other members of a loving community. Besides that, each woman belongs to a table with seven or eight other members, and each table takes a turn in providing breakfast for the group. the act of preparing something with your own hands to share with others can be filled with meaning and importance. Unlike the response we get from grubby kids at a breakfast table, the other women genuinely appreciate our act of service and understand the love and heart that we put into preparing something tasty and special. Breakfast is followed by a couple announcements and a short program featuring a guest speaker or somebody sharing their story.
We offer childcare for our preschoolers. Tracy manages that, which is a challenge because it requires a lot of volunteer effort to keep that part of the program going. One of our older moms, Lyndi Griffin, takes care of the nursery babies. Lyndi has a passion and a gift for this service. During worship, I’ve watched her approach a tired mom with a baby in her arms and scoop the infant up, giving the grateful mom a chance to breathe a little and to enjoy worship on a deeper level.
Stay-at-home moms are under a lot of pressure. We play a lot of roles. Besides providing round-the-clock babysitting services, I was also chauffeur, maid, cook, bookkeeper, purchasing agent — plus counselor, pediatric medical intern, and first responder for any trauma that happens. I was forced to perform all of these roles in the complete absence of any peer-level support. Even though I was constantly surrounded by children, I sometimes felt isolated. So when I walked into that first Moms meeting and suddenly found myself in the presence of several dozen other women who were dealing with the same child, marriage, and finance issues that I was struggling with, the sense of relief and release was a little breathtaking.
Denell Towns, our leader, supports Tracy and me in our leadership roles. Denell is an amazing mentor whose passion is to invest in leaders. She gives us exactly what we need. She knows that we don’t need someone to manage us and tell us what to do, so Denell gives us training and resources for becoming more effective in our Simply Moms leadership roles. We bring to her whatever questions we have about the meetings or growth of the group. She does more than simply tell us what to do; she leads us to the answers. She also demonstrates how the particular issue we are dealing with “sprinkles” into other aspects of our work. She feeds into us by equipping us and building us up to be better leaders.
Each year Tracy and I select a topic for the year’s meetings. Last year’s theme was Intentionality, and we focused on becoming more deliberately purposeful and loving in all our relationships — especially in our marriages and in the way we deal with our children and with ourselves. We understand that we are in the trenches; we are “boots on the ground” in the societal wars that are undermining the important issues of parenthood, family, and commitment that provide underpinnings for any healthy society.
We are confronting a “suburb mentality” that drenches families with pressures from the superficial social layers of house, car, and extra-curricular activities for the kids. In response, we encouraged each other to take stock of our actual situation. We learned to become aware of each area that our lives touch. We are married, with a house and kids. Now, where do we go from here?
The Simply Moms planning year begins in September, so last fall we began by acknowledging that, in some way, each of us is broken and struggling with our own particular set of wounds. We attempt to maintain a façade before the world that everything is okay while simply ignoring areas in which we are wrestling with our personal demons. We both conceal the truth and hide ourselves from the fact that in those areas we are definitely not okay. Strength and healing come when we learn to be vulnerable and admit to one another that we are damaged and in need of help.
So we chose “Beautifully Broken” as our theme this year, encouraging each other to finally remove our masks and to share with each other the spiritual wounds and defects we’ve been hiding from the world. We are extending last year’s theme of Intentionality to areas of vulnerability. God calls us to go deeper and to make deliberate and intentional choices for each aspect of our lives, including those things that are tough to look at and difficult to talk about. We are learning, not only to accept ourselves as broken human beings, but to actually find beauty in the brokenness. We learn that God loves us just the way we are. His viewpoint provides a new perspective from which we can see beauty and deliberately find the splendor in the brokenness of being human.
We apply the Beautifully Broken principle to our marriages. Even the best marriages are tough and most of us aren’t in the best marriages. Relationships can be difficult, and we encourage each other to embrace the role of up lifters and encouragers by boldly responding to the challenge of building up our husbands and supporting their role as the family’s spiritual leader.
We provide similar support for our children and for each other in the Simply Moms group. We are ready to come alongside members of the group who are having trouble with their marriage and allow them to come alongside us in our problems; we become vulnerable together. We deliberately look at areas of brokenness through a beautiful lens. Rather than simply being overwhelmed by the day-to-day physical and spiritual messiness of our lives, we are learning to delight in the mess and with both arms to embrace the honesty and vulnerability of admitting that motherhood is tough and that we don’t always get it right. We learn the power of finally realizing, “I’m not okay, but that’s okay,” and share with each other the true life and light that God holds out to each of us.
Simply Moms is open for any mother. We used to be Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs) but didn’t like limiting ourselves. After all, the challenges of motherhood don’t go away or even change substantially when the kids move into first grade.