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MOPS … It’s Just Part of the Family
by Jean Blackmer
Eighteen years ago, a woman in the Washington, D.C. area started a MOPS group and asked Barbara Quarles if she wanted to be a “Titus Woman,” now known as a MOPS Mentor. Barbara said yes, and the MOPS legacy of the Quarles women began.
Barbara loves being a MOPS Mentor and says she can’t get over how the younger women yearn for an older woman to speak into their lives. She helped start a second MOPS group and took over speaking and finding speakers for both groups. Her messages have resonated with the women and her speaking engagements increased. Little did she know that her involvement in MOPS would have an incredible impact on her children.
Barbara, age 70, is a mother of four children. She’s been married to John for 49 years, and they have nine grandchildren. Pictured below are (back row, l to r) daughter Laura Quarles Spillane; Barbara; daughter Nancy Quarles MacGowan; (front row, l to r) granddaughters Ava Quarles, Laura MacGowan, Ruby Quarles and daughter-in-law Linda Quarles.
Nancy Quarles MacGowan
Nancy and Tim have three children, Laura, 16, Patrick, 14 and Benjamin, 7.
After witnessing how much fun her mom had with MOPS, Nancy says, “I couldn’t wait to get pregnant so I could join.” She visited her first MOPS group when she was pregnant.
Nancy lived in Florida when her first child was born, and there wasn’t a MOPS group in her community. Instead, she attended the group in Virginia when she visited her parents.
Then Nancy moved to California and found she was floundering. She joined a MOPS group, stepped into the role of Hospitality Leader and found some wonderful friends. Eventually, she moved back to Virginia. This time she started a MOPS@ group in her home and her mom became the MOPS Mentor.
“Watching my mom pour her life into other women’s lives was an example to me and I wanted to do this too,” Nancy says. She still hosts the MOPS@ group and is training another woman to become coordinator.
Laura Quarles Spillane
Laura is mom to four boys; Kevin, Jr.,12, Franklin, 10, Raymond, 9 and John, 7. She and husband, Kevin, live in Nokesville, Virginia.
When Laura’s first son was born, she joined her mom’s MOPS group in Virginia. She served as a Discussion Group Leader, Finance Team Leader and eventually Coordinator.
“Before I had children, I saw my mother’s relationships with other women and I thought I’d like to do that someday,” she says. “After being in the workforce, I needed a place to plug in.”
Coordinating this large MOPS group has given her the confidence she needs today in her job with the Coast Guard. “My MOPS experience has helped me to trust my judgment. And I’m better able to guide those I manage,” she says.
She still meets monthly with the women who served together on the Steering Team.
Linda is the newest woman in the Quarles family. She married Jack, and they have two children, Ruby, 3 and Ava, 4. She’s the Coordinator for the Herndon, Virginia MOPS group.
When Linda married into the Quarles family, she knew she wanted to join MOPS when she had a child. She admired the parenting philosophy of her sisters-in-law and mother-in-law and knew MOPS had played an important role.
But she didn’t join a MOPS group until her daughter was 18 months old because she mistakenly thought children had to be 2 years old before moms could attend. But after learning that was incorrect and space opened up, she joined, becoming a Discussion Group Leader and then a Co-Coordinator.
“I’ve been able to meet women with whom I have little in common. But suddenly we have everything in common due to our stage in mothering,” Linda says.
Jean Blackmer is the Publishing Manager for MOPS International and author of Boy-sterous Living: Celebrating Your Loud and Rowdy Life with Sons. She lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and their three boys.