Meet Preschooler Moms Who Bond in MOPS

Author: WPC Connections Team
January 19, 2021

As the mom of a preschooler, it is easy to get worn out from a little one’s endless supply of energy – not to mention everything else like work, grocery shopping, cooking, school, washing clothes, and volunteer activities.  To unwind, share experiences, and get parenting ideas, the mothers of preschoolers in Williamsburg Presbyterian Church connect monthly. It is a place for mothers to be themselves, to be encouraged and supported, and to share their faith.  Read what MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and MomsNEXT (MOPS “graduates” with older kids) means to WPC members Summer Kirkpatrick and Laura Bechtler and their children.

About MOPS

Historically, MOPS/MomsNEXT met once a month at the church for dinner and conversation while their children participated in a free supervised activity in the church’s nursery. Since COVID-19, the group meets via Zoom. Recent activities include a paint night, a book swap, a recipe exchange, making pretzels, a “favorite things” party, and creating gingerbread houses (which 3-year-old Roan Kirkpatrick said was “Amazing!”). To connect with Summer, Laura, or other moms in our church, contact MOPS staff coordinator Jodie Davis to learn more and get the meeting schedule. Learn more about the international MOPS organization here.


Summer Kirkpatrick & Family

 Where did you grow up as a child?  What brought you to Williamsburg and WPC?
SK: I grew up in Georgia and Alabama. I did not join a church until my junior year at the College of Charleston, when I joined Second Presbyterian Church. I was an active member at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church in North Carolina before transferring membership to Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. My family moved to Williamsburg to live next door to my in-laws, Jim and Kelly Kirkpatrick, who are also members of WPC. Williamsburg is also a better location for my husband's work as a boat captain.

 Names and ages of your children?
SK: Roan is three years old and Jack is one year old.

 What are you learning by being a member of MOPs?
SK: 
Joining MOPs helped me to connect with other families at WPC.

 What is your favorite junk food snack?  Your child’s?
SK: 
My favorite junk food is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Roan loves chocolate Kisses, and Jack loves Oreo cookies.

 Where would you like to travel with your children and why?
SK: 
Roan currently wants to be a scuba diver when he grows up. We would love to travel somewhere to take him snorkeling.

 Traditions are important.  Please share with us some of your favorite family traditions.
SK: 
My boys really enjoy having the Advent candles on the dinner table. We light the candle(s) each evening before blessing the meal. Jack now says "Light the candle! Light the candle!" every time we sit down to a meal at the table. 

 Tell us your favorite children’s book.  Mom?  Child?
SK: 
My favorite children's book is "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. Roan has been loving Mo Willems’ books about Pigeon or Elephant and Piggie, as well as Pete the Cat books. These books have funny characters and teach moral lessons.

 What would your child/children tell us about you?
SK: 
My children would tell you that I am the one who makes the food, snacks, drinks, art, playground, potty time, stories, and songs happen. 

 What would you like other mothers to know about MOPs at WPC?
SK: 
MOPs is a wonderful way to take time to grow as a mom by talking with other mothers about their experiences, and have fun activities to do as an adult or with your kids.

 Since COVID-19 and having to Zoom, what do you miss most about your time together with other mothers and their children?
SK: 
I miss being able to meet in person. It is easier to talk about what is going on in the family when the kids are in childcare at the church. I have been loving the group cooking activities that we did with our kids on Zoom. Roan and I got to make pretzels and gingerbread houses and chat with the other families while we did it. It helped me realize that my three-year-old will sit on a video call far longer if he has an activity that he can do with his hands and eat. I've started using this strategy for family Zooms.


Laura Bechtler & Family

 Where did you grow up as a child?  What brought you to Williamsburg and WPC?
LB:
I was born in Knoxville, TN, and lived there with my parents and two brothers until I was in first grade. We moved to North Canton, OH, then San Antonio, TX, then Columbia, MD, and came to Williamsburg just before my sophomore year at Lafayette High School. Chris and I were married at WPC in June 2002. We returned to WPC in May 2015 when Chris started as Director of Music Ministry and moved to Williamsburg shortly after.

 Names and ages of your children?
LB: 
Katie is 10 and Josh is 8.

 What are you learning by being a member of MOPs?
LB:
Achieving a healthy balance of full-time mom, full-time career, full-time wife, and various volunteer positions in the community and at WPC is not easy. It takes a great deal of faith. I get so much support from the other moms at MOPS. Regardless of the children’s ages, all of us moms experience so many of the same challenges and celebrations. We are able to share our experiences, gain support and prayers, and laugh (A LOT) with each other. Having a community of moms that I can lean on, cry with, and enjoy life with means so much to my heart, soul, and faith. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love all these wonderful women and their children.

 What is your favorite junk food snack?  Your child’s?
LB: 
I LOVE CHEESE. No snack (or meal) makes me happier than a cheese board. The kids also love cheese but definitely enjoy just about any sweets they can get their hands on too. And we ALL love pizza!

 Where would you like to travel with your children and why?
LB:
I want our children to see, experience, and learn as much as possible about the wonderful country we live in. There is so much to offer! We love to travel to see zoos. The kids are fascinated with animals - I think Katie will be a vet at a zoo someday. My two dream destinations for our entire family are the Outer Banks (because we love relaxed, family-friendly, non-commercialized beach time) and Hawaii (none of us have been but I need to talk myself through the plane ride - EEK!). Hawaii has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I want the kids to see blue water and terrain like nothing they have ever experienced.

 Traditions are important.  Please share with us some of your favorite family traditions.
LB:
Picnics are a huge tradition for us whether they take place in our living room, backyard, state park, zoo, or Colonial Williamsburg. We love to have picnics as often as we possibly can.

 Tell us your favorite children’s book.  Mom?  Child?
LB:
My favorite books growing up were the stories from the American Girls collections. I had several of the dolls and I loved reading all of the books with my mom. Katie and I are doing that and it means a lot to me to share that with her. Josh will read just about anything. Both kids LOVE to read. We read to the kids every night before bed and have been doing so since the very evening Katie was born.

 What would your child/children tell us about you?
LB: My children would tell you that I work a lot and I cook a lot. Both of those are very true. When I am at home not working, my favorite place to be is in my kitchen. My peace is found in cooking (and eating) food created from new recipes and old trusted ones.

 What would you like other mothers to know about MOPs at WPC?
LB:
This group may have started with moms of preschoolers but at WPC, it doesn’t matter what the ages of your children are. We want you to know you are welcome and we would LOVE to have you. Moms need each other for the good and the bad. I have formed lifelong friendships with these amazing women and I do believe our children are now bonded for life too. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that??

 Since COVID-19 and having to Zoom, what do you miss most about your time together with other mothers and their children?
LB:
I do miss sharing meals with the other moms and having the children all play together while we chatted. I love that we still meet via Zoom. We can still talk and share our joys and our struggles but I truly look forward to a meal together again and to seeing all the children running around together laughing and playing.


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