It has been decades since Ruth Mjoness and Marilyn Bloom were busy raising their own children.
But the two women understand the difficulties and rewards of being a mother of young children. That’s why they volunteer their time to lend support and share laughter, along with a little grandmotherly advice, by serving as mentors to women involved with Crosslake Area MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers, group.
Crosslake Area MOPS is the local chapter of a national grassroots organization that allows mothers of young children to meet new friends who also are on a journey of motherhood. MOPS Mentor Moms are usually older, wiser women who have raised their children and are there to listen and offer sage advice.
The group meets the second and fourth Tuesday mornings each month during the school year starting Sept. 24 at the Crosslake Evangelical Free Church.
Bloom and Mjoness are two of the five Crosslake Area Mentor Moms. Bloom has been a Mentor Mom for three years, while Mjoness has volunteered for more than 12 years.
Bloom, a Mission Township resident, has six children, two of whom were adopted; 15 grandchildren; and five-great-grandchildren. She and her late husband, Marlin, also raised 13 foster children while living in the Minnetonka area. One of her adopted daughters, now 51, was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and lives in a group home. She was one of a few children the Blooms raised who had special needs.
Bloom spent 30 years as a family services director at a private preschool where she taught parenting classes and facilitated mother support groups.
“I love working with moms,” Bloom said with a smile. “I just love the idea of MOPS. It’s such a wonderful idea. I think moms need other women. I remember being home with my kids and just about going crazy. I think it can be lonely.”
“I like to make people feel comfortable,” Mjoness said of her role during MOPS meetings.
“She makes people feel welcome,” Bloom added with a smile.
Mjoness said when she was raising her children in Minneapolis, she also was busy volunteering with the Boy and Girl Scouts and teaching Sunday school and Awana at her church. She taught elementary school for eight years and served as a substitute teacher.
She and her late husband, Allen, who passed away in 2000, moved to Crosslake in 1994. Before moving to Crosslake, they spent about 13 years volunteering in New Hampshire, California and Mexico for various Bible camps and through Campus Crusade for Christ. Mjoness worked in the sewing room for two summers at a Mexican orphanage while her husband performed outdoor work. She has three children and seven grandchildren.
Both Mjoness and Bloom also volunteer at their church, Crosslake Evangelical Free Church. Bloom sings in the choir and has taught Sunday school.
Most recently, she and Mjoness have volunteered to serve lunches to the construction workers who are working on the addition to the church building.
Bloom takes water aerobics classes through the Brainerd Family YMCA three days a week to stay active.
Mjoness said she feels blessed to be able to volunteer. For a couple of summers, she served as a Crosslake Chamber of Commerce volunteer. She plays the marimba, and at one time she and her husband toured and performed. Mjoness has played the marimba at church on occasion.
“It just lifts my spirits when I’m practicing,” Mjoness said of the marimba. “It’s a beautiful instrument.”
The two women became good friends by meeting at church and are part of a social group they call the Happy Halves, a group of about eight widows who like to socialize together.
“We’re happy and our husbands would want us to be happy,” Mjoness said with a smile. “Count your blessings. The Lord has been so good to me, and I dwell on that.”
(Jodie Tweed is a freelance writer who lives in Pequot Lakes.)