Being a stay-at-home mom can be a thankless job at times, even when your children are old enough to talk.
Mothers who stay at home with their children easily can fall into isolation, spending time only with the little ones and never interacting with adults -- except maybe Barney.
To penetrate that isolation, the Mothers Offering Mothers Support Club meets regularly in Payson for play groups, holiday parties and moms' nights out.
"If I stayed at home all the time I would go crazy," said Sue Becker, president of the MOMS Club. "The club allows me to talk to adults while the kids are occupied.
"I think everybody needs that companionship, so you're not suffering alone."
Becker said working parents often assume she can just spend all day playing with her children. But she has to run the club, work with the Parent Teacher Organization and keep up with the chores.
"You make your priorities," she said. "If the house isn't dusted, so be it. At least the dishes are out of the sink."
Becker made the decision to quit her job and stay home with her children five years ago. It was a tough choice, she said, but she was unhappy with the childcare she and her husband were paying for.
"My daughter was just getting lost in the sea of kids," she said. "For me to watch her myself was a relief. I could give her what she needed, when she needed it."
When she first joined the MOMS Club, it was to find playmates for her daughter Addie. Now it's changed.
"Now it's more for me," she said. "It's getting together, being social and knowing there are other moms out there like you."
Robin Adcock, mother of two, knows what it's like to work and be a mother. When she gave birth to her first child, she had to work for one year while her husband's business could get established.
"You think as a career woman that after you have a baby, you go back to work. Once you give birth, it is so hard to let go of this baby to basically a stranger," Adcock said. "It was the hardest thing to take that tiny, helpless baby that I loved so much and give him to a baby sitter all day while I went to work."
While she does miss the adult conversations that come with a job, she said she doesn't want to miss any special moments in her children's lives.
"Seeing the first tooth or their first steps, or being there when they're sick, those are the perks," she said. "It's certainly not financially rewarding. The hours are long and you're exhausted. But you can look back and think of the happy moments you've had throughout the day."
Adcock has been in the MOMS Club for five years. When she first moved up from the Valley, she wasn't sure what to do with all her time. There are malls in the Valley, and concerts and shows for kids.
"It was a lifesaver," she said. "It was so nice to have somebody to talk to that understood where you were at. Especially being in a small town where you don't have a lot of resources."
"It's a good example for kids to see that education is important," she said. "It maybe was intimidating at first, but I gained confidence right away."
Oakley said she wanted to stay home
with her children because she wanted to be their primary caregiver and educator.
"There are special kind of women out there that do very well in the parenting role and enjoy making that their focus," she said. "They are also important assets to school and community where they volunteer."
Oakley said she never regrets staying home with her children, even if it meant taking a 15-year break from her education.
"I'm glad that I could be there in those moments that can't be repeated," she said.
After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, clubs across the country
sent funds and support to mothers who were affected by the tragedy.
On a more local level, the club also gets together when a member is sick or struggling.
"They were there for every support that might be needed," Oakley said. "Even if it was just someone to talk to."
The club also has meetings to plan and listen to guest speakers. Once a month they get together and listen to a guest speaker talk about finances, childcare, education or any number of issues. A baby sitter is provided.
Becker said the club is continually looking for new members and has big plans for the future.
"There's a new initiative to pull the dads in, too," she said. "So they can get to know other guys."
For more information on the MOMS Club, call (928) 472-6709 or (928) 472-3382.