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Mom group rebrands and expands but keeps supportive purpose

Julie Eledge (left) and Diedre King at Packsaddle Fellowship Church in Kingsland. Eledge directs Highland Lakes MOPS (soon-to-be MomCo). King is a member of MOPS and founder of Little Learners, a weekly gathering of preschoolers and their moms, which also meets at the church. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Contestants in the Mom Olympics hurry barefoot across a floor strewn with Legos, chug a juice box, and make their way back to the finish line. In another event, they simulate driving to see who can hand drinks, toys, and snacks to tiny, demanding back-seat passengers while keeping their eyes on the road, which, in this case, is the tile floor in the community room at Packsaddle Fellowship Church in Kingsland.

Participants are members of Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS, an international nonprofit that brings mothers together to support each other. 

“We believe in the simple but revolutionary idea that remarkable things happen when moms come together,” reads the About Us statement on MOPS has chapters in 72 countries, including one in Kingsland, Texas, United States. The Highland Lakes MOPS, which began in 2015, includes moms of newborns, toddlers, early elementary, and teens, a change in demographics that is happening worldwide and led headquarters in Colorado to rethink the name after 50 years of service. 

“In September, when the new year begins, MOPS will be MomCo, which stands for the Mom Community,” said Julie Eledge, group director and Sunday Children’s Ministry coordinator for Packsaddle Fellowship. “MOPS has a connotation of cleaning supplies and implies it’s just for moms with preschool-age children, and that’s not true anymore.” 

Eledge has been a member since the local chapter began nine years ago. Her children are now ages 12 and 9. 

The group meets for two hours on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, September through May, although members also plan activities in the summer. Childcare is provided in an adjacent room free of charge.

During regular meetings, members share a potluck breakfast that always includes HOT coffee, Eledge stressed.

“As a mom, you don’t always get to finish your coffee while it’s still hot,” she said. “You get to drink your coffee hot when you’re here.” 

Topics are chosen from a curriculum provided by MOPS and have included videos and discussions on conflicts in marriage, mental health and anxiety in mothering, and how to parent a difficult child. The subject matter varies as much as group membership.

“Not everyone in our group is the same, which is beautiful,” Eledge said. “We have married moms, single moms, young moms in their 20s, and moms in their 40s. Whether you naturally had a child or adopted children, that is the one thing we have in common: We are called a parent or a mom by somebody.”

One member is a grandmother who serves as a mentor and also provides music time for the kids. Mary Keelan’s youngest grandson is 15. The other two are graduating from college, but she is an important part of Highland Lakes MOPS.

“I impart a little bit of wisdom from having gone through it all myself,” Keelan said. “I don’t say you have to parent this way or parent that way. That’s not the point.” 

Having a strong, vital support group is huge, she continued. 

“MOPS is such a blessing for young parents,” Keelan said. “These moms are wanting to be the best parents they can be. They are wanting their children to enjoy playing with other children. It fills my bucket a little bit, too.” 

Although the group meets in a church, prays before breakfast, and is Christian-based, it is open to everyone of any belief, without pressure. 

“You don’t have to believe a certain thing or have a certain faith,” Eledge said. “There is no requirement to join. We want you to feel comfortable.”

Kingsland resident Claire Liddiard, who has two children ages 6 and 4, calls the group “an amazing, helpful community.” She has been a member for two years. 

“It gives me a little bit of a chance to breathe,” she said. “The kids are taken care of in a safe place, and I am with people I can relate to and talk to.” 

Deidre King’s family, which includes a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, moved to Kingsland from Colorado two years ago. She knew about MOPS and found the Highland Lakes chapter via an internet search. 

She and the friends she developed in the group also began a weekly preschool program, Little Learners, at the Kingsland Library. When it outgrew that space, they were invited into Packsaddle Fellowship and now meet there for three hours every Thursday morning for stories, crafts, and playtime. 

King sees the programs as complementary, giving moms and their kids a chance to get out of the house and interact with others.

“It means everything, just to have a community of women to talk to about life, to cry together, share stories, encourage each other,” King said. “It’s time away for them, time away from me, and playtime with other kids. And they learn to listen to other teachers, other adults.” 

The current year is winding down with a final meeting as MOPS on May 13, the Monday after Mother’s Day. Summer plans are still in the works, said Eledge, who is also developing special activities for the May meeting. 

“I think every day is kind of like a Mother’s Day,” she said. “If you are lucky enough to have a spouse or kids who tell you what a good mom you are, that’s awesome, but not a lot of people hear that very often.”

Eldege makes it a point to stop and talk to stressed-out mothers wherever she sees them. She recently approached a mom trying to calm a screaming toddler in the Marble Falls H-E-B parking lot. 

“I told her, ‘I don’t know what’s happening right now, but I’m rooting for you,’” she said. “If you told your toddler they can’t have a candy, I’ve got your back. If you gave in and gave it, I’ve done that, too.’ We are all in this together trying to raise good little human beings.” 

She suggested everyone take time to stop and help someone in need, even if it’s just picking up something they dropped. It’s what she hopes MOPS members do every day. 

“It’s beautiful to be able to rally around one another to help get through some of the tough times in motherhood,” Eledge said. “MOPS has filled a need in my heart I didn’t even know was there. It’s amazing to be with a community of women so kind and loving. Not feeling alone was a very big thing for me.” 

When the group reconvenes in September, it will do so as MomCo, officially recognizing something it has been doing all along: providing support for moms with kids of all ages. 

“I always like to take a moment and acknowledge that better moms make a better world,” Eledge said. 

To learn more about MOPS—soon to be MomCo—email Eledge at Also, check out the group’s Facebook page @HighlandLakesMOPS. That name will change in September but should still be easy to find! Packsaddle Fellowship Church is located at 508 RM 2900 in Kingsland. moderates all comments. Comments with profanity, violent or discriminatory language, defamatory statements, or threats will not be allowed. The opinions and views expressed here are those of the person commenting and do not necessarily reflect the official position of or Victory Media Marketing.

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