Parents Helping Parents

March 08, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Lisa Gilmer quit her job in a computer store in Annapolis two years ago to become a stay-at-home mother.

She and her husband Frank, 30, a computer programmer, thought staying at home would be like a vacation for Mrs. Gilmer.

But the Glen Burnie woman felt isolated from other adults and her daughter Lauren, 3, was lonely, with no playmates nearby.

"You're cut off from society. You live in a complete vacuum and you may not know what's going on in the real world," said Mrs. Gilmer, 31.

Then a year ago, while she was reading a book, "Staying Home," the Glen Burnie woman learned of the Moms Offering Moms Support club.

Within months she had started a Glen Burnie chapter of MOMS with about 10 members. The chapter has grown to 40 members, including a stay-at-home father, nannies and grandmothers who want adult company.

MOMS is a national, nonprofit organization started by Mary James, a woman from Simi Valley, Calif. The group publishes a newsletter to keep members informed of different activities in which various chapters are involved.

The organization appealed to Mrs. Gilmer because it is not associated with a local church or group with a particular philosophy. "I thought it was the best choice because it would include everyone," Mrs. Gilmer said.

"The kids get the chance to socialize and get some exposure to other children and the different interaction techniques they have to learn and they're getting it a little bit before they start school," said John Cly, 41, a plumber, who decided to stay at home to take care of 2 1/2 -year-old Veronica while his wife, Roxie Brown, 46, works as an analyst at the National Security Agency.

"A side advantage for the parent is they get to have an intellectual conversation other than pee-pee, poo-poo and cookie. After a day, that gets tired real fast," Mr. Cly said.

The Glen Burnie couple adopted Veronica from an orphanage in Lithuania and brought her to the United States in September. They decided one of them should stay home with Veronica because they did not want to put her into another institution so soon after her arrival, Mr. Cly said.

The club goes to museums, petting farms, parks and holds play groups at members' homes.

Margaret Gillingham, who left a job in the governor's office to stay home with her first child, Ellen, said she still feels lonely occasionally, but the MOMS Club has helped dissipate that and provided friends for her daughters.

Though most club members come from Glen Burnie and Pasadena, others are from Linthicum, Brooklyn and Annapolis.

The club has a baby-sitting co-op and does projects to benefit children, such as donating clothes and toys to Sarah's House at Fort Meade.

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