HOLIDAY — As a working mother of three who often has trouble getting her youngest out of bed in the morning, Kathy Kupczyk knows how hectic days can get.
So she was prepared for a tepid response when she sent invitations asking Gulf Trace Elementary students to bring their moms, their grandmothers or another important female role model to school for an early breakfast.
But Kupczyk, who works as a media specialist at the school, was pleasantly surprised and a little frantic to see a long line snaking through the cafeteria as kids, their moms, grandmothers, aunts and friends loaded up their breakfast trays for the school's first iMom event last month.
"We're stretching the food," Kupczyk said, with a grin. "I think there's over 200 people here!"
No doubt a little bonding over eggs, bagels and French toast sticks was a great way to kick off the day and the school's new iMom program. Launched nationally in 2007 by the Tampa-based Family First, iMom is a complementary offshoot to the nonprofit organization's All Pro Dad fatherhood program that encourages men to build and maintain strong relationships in their families.
Gulf Trace Elementary already has a successful All Pro Dad program, which is run, in part, by Kupczyk's husband, Phil, who is assistant principal at Crews Lake Middle School in Shady Hills. For a while now fathers and children have been enjoying dances, dinners and their own breakfasts.
A few moms, it seems, were clamoring for equal time.
"We thought this was important," said Kupczyk, who organized the iMom kick-off breakfast with the help of intermediate teacher Mandy Kollross, clinic worker Betty Jo Simon, PLACE manager Lorriann Zoltowski and assistant plant manager Cheri Hill.
The idea was for kids and their moms to have some special bonding over breakfast, Kupczyk said.
With FCAT coming up, there was the subject of test anxiety to address. Adults were asked to give examples of how they deal with stress in their own lives — tips included chocolate, singing, shopping and bubble baths — and to share with their children something that made them feel fearful when they were younger.
Having to get up and talk in front of the class was something that used to make Shannon Taylor, 38, a little weak in the knees. In turn, her daughter Mallory, 6, owned up to being scared of the dark.
"We're enjoying a little one-on-one," Mrs. Taylor said, as the two compared notes. "I have two older (children), so we don't always get this kind of time together."
"I think it's great," said Charolette Vozdecky, 34, who enjoyed lots of hugs with her daughter, Madisen, 7. "Moms are the best."