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CALLING ALL MOMS: Clubs offer stress-reducing support and fun for mothers

By JULIE FAY
For The Patriot Ledger
(Left to right) April w/Allison, Braintree, Erin and son Wyatt, also Braintree, Jennifer and son Ben, Norwell at Magic Beans. Photo by Richard W. Green.

Aprille Dembsky joined other mothers and their children for a recent get-together of the group Mom’s Coffee Break with Baby.

The group converged at Magic Beans in Hingham for coffee, conversation and companionship.

“I was looking for an informal way to meet other mothers, and eventually make friends for my daughter,” said Dembsky, of Braintree, who has a 5-month-old daughter.

Back in our mother’s, even our grandmother’s day, there was the coffee klatch. Women - often neighbors - would gather at each others’ homes after their husbands went to work to share conversation, support and stories about raising kids. Sometimes they’d play bridge.

Today, with many mothers working full-time and fewer close-knit neighborhoods, women find mothers’ groups like Mom’s Coffee Break to be a new way to connect with each other.

Whether it’s an online network, a support group or a longstanding community organization, a mothers’ group can help women cope with raising a family.

“In our culture right now, we (feel like we) have to do everything perfectly right for (our children) and that can be very isolating,” said Melissa Moore, 26, founder of the South Shore chapter of Mothers & More, a national mothers’ advocacy group. “You end up focusing entirely on the needs of your child and ignoring your own needs - (like) you can’t put your child down for five minutes and have some time for yourself.”

Moore, mother of William, 11/2, said the antidote for the stress of motherhood is taking a little personal time. With a rule that mothers go to meetings without their children, except for the youngest of infants, Mothers & More helps women connect. “It’s really empowering to remember that you have this personal identity as a strong, independent woman, not just the Mom of the Year,” said Moore, of Quincy.

Mary Power, president of the Hingham Mothers’ Club, agreed. “We all have a lot of priorities, a lot of things going on,” said Power, 46, and the mother of Conor, 6, and Brendan, 5. “You like once in a while to be able to do something for yourself.”

Today’s mothers’ groups are more than social clubs. The Hingham Mothers’ Club, established in 1940, promotes civic and community welfare as part of its mission.

Ongoing projects include delivering Meals on Wheels through the Hingham Senior Center; donating to the Hingham Interfaith Food Pantry; and giving holiday gifts for Friends of the Homeless.

The club also holds fundraisers to support the Hingham Scholarship Program, which awards scholarships to college-bound Hingham residents. The Festival of Trees, featuring a two-day silent auction of theme-decorated Christmas trees and ornate gingerbread houses, was a big success last year. “We earned just over $6,000 for the scholarship program,” Power said.

Sandy Turco of Hingham said she values the community service aspect of the Hingham Mothers’ Club. “I’m a stay-at-home mother and I still need to feel a sense of being in the community,” she said. “There’s a social aspect, but I’m really doing it to give back to the community, not just like ‘Hey girls, let’s go out and get a glass of wine,’” she said.

While the Hingham Mothers’ Club places a high priority on community service, other groups focus on their members. For example, Mothers & More sets program goals each year in the areas of personal identity; career path and volunteer work; personal relationships; and financial literacy.

“I think those are really empowering things for mothers to have a focus on,” Moore said.

Online options such as MomJunction.com, CafeMom.com and Raisingthem.com offer parenting advice, e-support and forums on everything from hobbies to homeschooling. Meetup.com is a web site that brings people together through shared interests. For those yearning for the old-time coffee klatch, albeit in a local café, check out the “Mom’s Coffee Break with Baby” group at Meetup.com.

Power said that besides community service and social opportunities, the Hingham Mothers’ Club organizes events, such as outings to Red Sox games, which can make it easier to have some quality family time. The club also offers Sunday afternoon ice skating at the Pilgrim Arena in Hingham. “We skate from October to March,” she said. “Skating is so nice because it’s suitable for all ages. There are children who have just learned to walk out on the ice, right on up through teenagers.”

Moore said that a mothers’ group can offer intellectual stimulation and emotional support. She plans to host a book club, a writing group and a playgroup. But she also is creating a supportive atmosphere where mothers can be honest with themselves and each other.

“It’s a safe place to say, ‘When my kid says my name for the 49,000th time, it makes me want to pull my hair out.’” she said.

Dembsky said she finds solace in the organized activities, like the get-together at Magic Beans in Hingham.

“This whole parenthood thing takes a lot out of you, and it is good to talk to other adults once in a while,” Dembsky said.