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Posted: September 14, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Apted: Other mothers need each other

When I was pregnant with my first son Zach, some 14 years ago, I could've easily rattled off a list of adjectives describing what I expected motherhood to be like.

Rewarding. Tiring. Fulfilling. Stressful. Joyous. And it turns out that I was right about all of those things.

But one word I never connected with motherhood was "lonely." I couldn't imagine how being a mom could feel lonely until I became one and realized all too soon how totally isolating the experience could feel.

During Zach's infancy and toddlerhood, we rented a tiny, unwelcoming house on a street disconnected from other neighborhoods, where no other families with small children lived. We attended a church where most of the congregation was older than we, people who were busy with teenagers or empty nests and who had no desire to spend time with a rambunctious toddler and his mother while his father worked 10 hours a day in Atlanta and drilled frequently with the National Guard.

During those years, our family only had one vehicle as well, which my husband needed for his long daily commute. There were many, far too many, long days and weekends when it was just Zach and I alone in that dark little house. And though the Internet provided some connection with other moms, this was well before the blessing of high-speed Internet service. All we had was dial-up, and sometimes it took half an hour to download a webpage - not exactly helpful when your child kept you up crying all night and you only wanted to hear from somebody who just experienced that too.

Yeah, I learned a whole new meaning of the word "lonely" during that stage of life. How I wish I'd have known about MOPS back then.

Mothers of Pre-Schoolers, or MOPS, is an international organization devoted to the needs of moms. Whether a woman has one child, or a dozen, all mothers are welcomed, valued and accepted regardless of race, faith, politics, education or marital status. For more information about MOPS, please visit their website at www.mops.org. MOPS of Conyers is the only group located in Rockdale or Newton counties, and we meet on the third Tuesday of each month.

This year, I decided that I love MOPS enough to be on the steering team, so I'd like to personally invite you to join us this Tuesday, Sept. 20, at Rockdale Alliance Church on Old Salem Road. Childcare check-in begins at 9:15 and the meeting itself runs from 9:30 until 11:30. There's no fee to come to our meetings, though you can join MOPS officially later, if desired, for a very small donation.

The content of each gathering varies a bit, but the three key ingredients of a good party are present every time: fun, food and fellowship. I might be biased, but I think the women in our group are particularly kind and welcoming. We try to get together at other times as well, just to chat at the park while the kids play, or at another casual, inexpensive outing between monthly meetings.

Even in this age of instant Internet connections, nothing can or ever will replace the value of one-on-one contact with other people living the same experiences as you at the same time. You can't replicate a play date online for your children, either.

We need each other. As much as I love my computer, my Facebook, and to a lesser degree, Twitter - I need my real-life connections even more. And I am a firm believer that a woman can never have too many friends. So if you have kids under the age of six, come join us, and tell others about our local MOPS group. Because if I'd have known about MOPS a dozen years ago, perhaps "loneliness" would still be a word I didn't readily associate with motherhood.

Kari may be reached at kari@kariapted.com.

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