Motherhood is hard.
This is the one concept several members of one of Aiken's newest organizations – the Moms League of Aiken – can agree on, and is the central goal the group is striving to encompass as it spreads its name throughout Aiken County.
"We really focus on moms. Children playing is a bonus, but our goal is to support good mothers," said Sydney Walters, Moms League of Aiken's president.
The group acts as a pillar of support for moms who need that extra dose of encouragement or a shoulder to lean on as they sway back and forth between being a parent and being their own person.
With more than 30 experienced and novice moms on standby, not to mention twice as many children between all of them, members of the group often look forward to a slew of activities, including spacious playdates, community events and the ever-popular "Moms Night Out" where the kids stay home and the moms engage in a simple but freeing activity for a night.
Even during an occurrence as uncertain of the coronavirus, the group found a way to assist other organizations with the same moms-inclusive mindset.
In September, the group conducted its first fundraiser by selling holiday-appropriate Halloween kits. The proceeds went W.L.J. Angel Gowns, a nonprofit organization that is traditionally known for creating gowns for stillborn infants, to purchase "cuddle cots" to bring comfort to other mothers who experience the loss of a child and need more time to say goodbye.
The group was able to sell 89 kits and raise approximately $2,200 – just $1,000 shy of the $3,500 cost for one cot.
The fundraiser was still a success, Walters said, and is the first of many the group has planned for the future.
A stand for all moms
The Moms League of Aiken was originally a chapter of the International MOMS Club, a support group focused solely on stay-at-home moms, something the Aiken's group did not fully support.
The Aiken group strives to include local mothers from all backgrounds – whether they work or stay at home.
"We felt we outgrew the archaic rules the group had," Walters said. "It's a hard thing because we love the organization, but we didn't love what they stood for."
The Moms League of Aiken additionally had issues with the international group's "lack of transparency" when it came to the use of each chapter's fees and communication with other chapters.
So, the Aiken group followed the cue from other chapters to separate itself from the international group and officially became its own nonprofit over the summer.
"We can do more for our community because the money we make can stay in our community," Walters said. "We can make our own rules ... and during the pandemic, we had the time to do some research ... so it worked out this year that, because we didn't feel comfortable with this organization anymore, we could start our own in the Aiken area."
However, the independence is a plus, Walters said, as the funds the group obtains can remain local and further its ability to spread out time between other smaller charities and organizations in the community.
Information on how to join the group is available on the Moms League of Aiken's website, momsleagueofaiken.org.
Good moms on standby
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the group has put a stop to their usual playdates and in-person activities for now, but still conducts events such game nights over ZOOM, as well as support each other no matter the situation.
Each mom in the group brings something a bit new to the table, and can advocate for a situation any mom can go through, such as postpartum depression or tips on getting a picky child to eat a vegetable.
"A lot of us moved to Aiken because our families work here ... so we don't have family," Walters said. "It does feel more like family because, for a lot of us, it's all we have."