Cindy Batten was a stay-at-home mom. She and her husband had lived in Gray, Tenn., for a few years with their children, a 4-month-old and an almost 2-year-old. While she enjoyed staying at home with them, she noticed that her husband was meeting more and more people through his job, while she did not have the time for much adult social interaction.
“I was looking online one day and found information about the MOMS Club of Kingsport,” says Batten. “I decided to go and see what this was about. The women sat around in a circle talking about various things and they were getting ready to help with a consignment sale for a service project, so there were people talking about pricing and publicity. The children were in a playroom with toys and crafts - we got to talk to each other while the children were happily occupied. I remember thinking ‘Wow, this is so organized’ and I really wanted to become a part of it.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
The primary goal of MOMS is to provide a support group for mothers who choose to stay home to raise their children. Actually, the group’s name - MOMS - stands for Moms Offering Moms Support. Started in 1983 by a stay-at-home mother in California, the organization now has over 2,100-plus chapters in the U.S. alone, with more than 100,000 members. There is a website (MOMSClub.org), a newsletter, calendar, resource materials and other helpful information.
But the most important thing they offer is support and reassurance.
“It is a wonderful sounding board for questions about… everything," says MOMS of Kingsport president Lisa Mahon. “It is wonderful to have someone to talk to about your child, everything from toilet training to biting to tantrums... things we’re worried about, but discover are really pretty normal. The more experienced mothers listen and reassure us that our kids aren’t weird and that we’re not bad mothers. That in itself means a lot.”
Also, according to Lillian Congello, “Sometimes it’s just nice to have a conversation with another adult!”
The Kingsport chapter of MOMS currently has approximately 25 to 30 members and pulls from the Kingsport, Fall Branch, Church Hill, Gray and Piney Flats communities. The group meets at least weekly during the school year and daily during the summer. Luncheons and potlucks are popular, and meetings are often held in parks, churches or members’ homes.
Family activities range from an annual Halloween Potluck and Trick-or-Treat to an end-of-the-school-year party, a Christmas party, picking strawberries and blueberries, cooking classes (for both adults and children), and clothing swaps.
An important part of the MOMS Club is service.
“We often go to Remington House and visit with the residents. We also hold a MOMS Memorial Blood Drive to honor children, husbands and some of our own members who have passed away. We take snacks to the OB wards at the hospitals, and we provide some volunteer time and supplies to the young mothers and babies at H.O.P.E. House,” says Mahon.
They also look out for one another. There are MOMS that take meals or clean for other MOMS who might need some extra help.
For a new family who has just located to Kingsport, it is like having an insider give you information about your new community.
“Mothers who have lived here for awhile know where the best playgrounds are, the best grocery stores for gluten-free products, which bookstores and libraries have a story time, what arts activities are available, etc.” says Batten. “This type of exchange often results in a long-term benefit: ‘friends forever.’”
For more information on Kingsport MOMS Club, visit http://www.momsclubofkingsporttn.weebly.com.