Mothers Helping Mothers builds friendships

By JESSICA KRAMPE

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

The nursery is full of toys and activity as small children play with each plastic object in sight and moms chat in small groups.

Mothers Helping Mothers meets from 12:30 to 2 p.m. every Wednesday at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1600 W. Rollins Road. There is no sign-up or membership fee.

The group was originally funded by a grant to prevent child abuse. Although the grant has since ended, Mothers Helping Mothers continues to meet.

Tracy Bocklage, registered nurse at the Women and Children’s Hospital of University Hospital, facilitates the program and mentors the mothers.

“It is such a good support for new moms,” Bocklage said. “Motherhood is a hard, hard job.”

Mothers Helping Mothers provides benefits for both the moms and their children. It is a social opportunity for stay-at-home mothers looking for their kids to have interaction with other children their age. The mothers have also found lasting friendships through the weekly gatherings.

The support group is essentially a big play date. Moms share stories about their kids, from boasting about proud moments to passing along helpful tips. It’s a good place to ask questions and see that life goes beyond midnight feedings, Bocklage said.

The group brings together women with similar backgrounds to talk. The time is spent discussing whatever comes up but most conversations pertain to the kids. Discussion topics include breast-feeding, baby products and sleeping (and the need for more of it).

Having a registered nurse facilitating the weekly gatherings is an advantage. When approached with questions, Bocklage is able to lead moms in the right direction or put them in contact with someone who can.

“I am here as a resource,” Bocklage said.

Typically, moms attend Mothers Helping Mothers with infants to preschool-aged children, but the group does not want anyone to stop coming if they enjoy the activity.

“Mothers of older children can give advice to mothers of younger children,” Bocklage said. “It benefits both.”

Grace Bailes, 2, entertains herself by playing with the toys in Trinity's nursery Wednesday during the Mothers Helping Mothers meeting.

Betsy Raghu and her three children, Pasha, 9 months, Surya, 3, and Arjuna, 5, have attended Mothers Helping Mothers since Arjuna was 3 months old.

“It is a fellowship with other moms,” she said. “It’s hard to reconnect with friends after you are a new mom. Everyone here has something in common.”

Mothers Helping Mothers is a great resource for new moms who need moral support, friendship or advice, Raghu said.

Kari Napier, mom to Andrue, two-and-a-half years old, said she especially benefited from the group as a new mom. Anything one mom struggles with, someone else has most likely already been through, Napier said.

“It’s nice to know you’re not alone,” she said. “(Mothers Helping Mothers) is a support of people that have become my friends.”

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