Moms helping moms

Racheal Irizarry, 24, snuggles with her newborn daughter, Serenity. Born in January, Serenity is Irizarry’s first child. (CNJ Staff Photo: Marlena Hartz)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ Staff Writer

The only child in sight is 40 days old and in the arms of her mother. A calm prevails, in spite of her whimpers and her mother’s coos.

There are no children to lug around, none to tug at sleeves.

“We have a rule — no kids, unless they are nursing,” explains Angelita Downing, founder of the Clovis Mom’s Group.

Once a month, Downing and other Clovis mothers meet without their children. On these nights, the Clovis Mom’s Group dwindles in size.

Twice a week, the women meet with their children. On these days, babies perch on hips, children lean against legs and spill across the floor.

Both meetings offer Clovis mothers respite.

Sans children, the women swap stories, advice and recipes.

“I need that adult interaction,” said Anne Pineda-Moore, 42, a member of the support group.

“You go crazy just talking to the little ones,” added Heather Powers, 28.

“It’s sanity to have a conversation with another mom,” said Downing, 30.

During weekly gatherings, the focus returns to children. The group hosts parties, activities and field trips.

“My daughter is so much happier being around other kids,” group member Lisa Geiger, 24, said.

Downing created the Clovis Mom’s Group in November, one month after she moved to Clovis from Ohio. Membership soon swelled to about 15 moms, said Downing, the wife of a pastor.

Downing missed the kind of support offered by the mother’s group she belonged to in Ohio, but couldn’t find a similar group in Clovis.

“We want moms to have somewhere to go,” Downing said.

Most in the group are stay-at-home moms who recently moved to Clovis. But membership is open to any mom, said Downing, who wants to start group branches tailored to different needs. Working mothers, for instance, could meet at night.

All mothers have at least one thing in common, she said — the need for support.

“You need to know you’re not the only one going through whatever you’re going through,” Downing said.

Motherhood is new to group member Racheal Irizarry, 24, who gave birth to daughter Serenity in January.

With the role comes a flood of questions, she said. Many are answered by members of the group, she said.

“I didn’t know anybody (in Clovis),” said the young mother, who moved to Clovis for an employment opportunity. “I would ask them, ‘Is this normal?’ ‘What do you do when this happens?”

Downing, a mother of two, never imagined motherhood would bring so many worries.

“I always have to have them (my children) in sight,” she said. “When we are at the library or the grocery store, I’m always looking around, checking to see where they are at and what they are doing,” she said.

The anxiety of motherhood is accompanied by joy, too, Downing said. That’s also something the Clovis mothers share.

“I always knew I wanted to be a mom,” Downing said. “(I wanted) to be their primary teacher at the beginning, to be their guide to learning.”

Having other mothers around makes being a mom that much better, she said.

“It’s nice to be able to get together — for moms to talk about things that are important to us, the concerns we have, to share our ideas and thoughts,” Downing said.

For information about the Clovis Mom’s Group, visit www.clovismoms.org or call Angelita Downing at 763-9128.