Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Earth Hour

For the first fifteen minutes of the allotted Earth Hour on Saturday night, we forgot to turn off the lights. But then our neighbor called to remind us and we all sort of slapped our foreheads. Oh yeah, Earth Hour.

 So we turned off the lights, but we couldn’t decide if it was bad form to finish watching the new Nancy Drew movie. We noticed that our other neighbors across the street seemed to be watching TV without the lights on—as evidenced by the blue glow flickering through their curtains—so we decided it was okay.

After that, we played Clue by candlelight, which is what I imagine the founders of Earth Hour had envisioned when they came up with the idea. Then Leah and I went online to check out what we were participating in (such is the busy life of a parent). Honestly, I have no idea if Earth Hour makes any difference at all, but I like the idea of solidarity with world neighbors, and I’m a sucker for wild storms set to music.



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Moxie\ mäk-sē\ n [fr. Moxie, a trademark for a soft drink] 1 : energy, pep  2 : courage, determination  3 : know-how

~Webster’s Dictionary

I don’t know anything about the soft drink, and I can’t take credit for having a ton of parenting know-how—it’s mostly trial and error on my part—but I love this word. If I’d known it when Leah was three, it would have become my mantra. I’m not kidding. Out loud chanting and everything.

Back when I was one of the uninitiated, I would have reserved this word just for pregnancy and childbirth. I used to think they were the worst things you could go through. Childbirth, actually. Not the reality of parenting, though that was scary too, but childbirth—the idea that something akin to a concrete pumpkin would pass through my bones. Really, I can’t emphasize enough how much this thought terrified me. Lucky for me, my first child was small (my second one was another story) and my bones flexed, just like the doctor said they would. And I was on such a high with the success of getting that baby into this world without splitting myself in half that I was talking about baby #2 within ten minutes of delivery. I didn’t know until that moment I was considering another child. Neither did my husband.

As everyone does, I figured out within the first day after Leah’s birth that pregnancy and childbirth are nanoseconds in the chronology of parenting (and eleven years later, I truly get this). It’s the rest of it that moxie is for. I see that now. For the colic that can turn your family in its head. For those raging tantrums when kids are three (and two and four and five). For the days at school that don’t go so well. For the stomach flu, the lice, the nighmares, and the questions (where do you go when you die? How does a baby come out? How does a baby go in?). For when you have to explain world tragedies to your kids. For when you have to explain local tragedies to your kids. For keeping yourself together all the while.

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Birthday Girl #2

We also have a birthday girl in our midst (see Supermama’s post), only this kid is now eleven. (And I ask myself, well…how did I get here? Letting the days go by…)

I have been reading lately—for many years, actually—of no-presents birthdays, and I am here to tell you, in case you feel guilty about your acquisitive child, that we have never done a no-presents birthday. My kids won’t allow them. The concept is popular among some of Leah’s peers—they have asked for, instead of presents, donations to the Whatcom Humane Society, Animals as Natural Therapy, and various other local causes. All noble, all inspiring. And for awhile, I felt a little guilty that my kids always refused this idea.
And then I started really thinking about birthday presents because I suspect some of these parties—and the charities selected—are parent driven and that not all kids take to this idea on their own. And that’s too bad. I, for one, don’t want my children to feel ashamed of wishing for presents. Birthdays are for kids to celebrate, to be celebrated, to feel celebrated, and for most kids over age two, there is nothing more quintessentially celebratory than presents.

If you feel bad that your child has not hopped on the charity wagon—and believe me, it’s loaded these days—think about it from the young guests’ perspective. Birthday parties give them an opportunity to put forth their good-friend qualities and think beyond themselves. It gives them an opportunity to, well… give, and after all, isn’t that what we want our children to learn? How to give? Better, how to give with grace? In turn, the birthday child learns and continues to refine the skill of expressing thanks. A laudable goal. This weekend I watched my eleven-year-old express true appreciation for each gift she received and say thank you to each guest. Not once did I have to remind her to say it. I can tell you she did not have this skill perfected at age three or five or even seven. But I think we’re there now.

So I say go forth, celebrate with presents, and feel good about it. It’s only once a year, after all, that your child gets to feel this special. And the other kids will learn something along the way.


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The Tooth Fairy Bids Good-bye

Leah lost a tooth this week, her first molar. She had been complaining about it hurting for a while, and then she came home from school one afternoon all aglow because it had come out and it “didn’t even hurt,” she said. She seemed as excited—almost childlike—as all the other times she’d lost a tooth, and I was excited for her, like all the other times I was excited for her. But then she said:

“Do I have to put it under my pillow?”

I stopped mid-stride and turned to look at her. “No, of course you don’t have to. But if you want to earn a little money, you’ll need to.”

She’s turning eleven next week, and I couldn’t quite bring myself to mention the tooth fairy. But I’m also not handing out quarters without at least a little play acting.  And I thought the allure of money might resonate.

“Nah,” she said. “I don’t need any money. I’m not putting it under my pillow.”

Well, that’s it then.

And for the next couple of days, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this chapter of my life is closing (Ty still loves putting his teeth under the pillow). I thought I’d have a little warning with Leah, a little lead in, similar to all the questions that led up to not believing in Santa anymore. But no, sometimes phases of life just…end.

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My Crafty Daughter

Sometimes I wonder if my daughter wishes she’d been born to a different mom—the kind of mom who initiates crafts with her kids, maybe researches them on-line, subscribes to craft magazines, and actually buys craft supplies. Although I’ve been known to take Leah to Michael’s, I’m the kind of person who would rather send her kids outside to find available sticks and rocks. Or accompany them to the park to play baseball. Or read. To my kids or to myself—I’m happy either way.Leah painting

 Leah is a good reader, but the fact that she would rather do something else continues to astonish me. Actually, what astonishes me is that she’s become quite a capable crafter—I would go so far as to say “fiber artist”— in spite of her mother (I sometimes think of her as my mini Martha Stewart). Testament to the reality that your child will develop talents and passions not your own. Also that you don’t even have to offer up the experience because if they care enough, they will find a way. (And isn’t that a load off?)
craft projects

Leah recently took up knitting, courtesy of a same-aged friend who taught her, and completed in a week or so a washcloth for her grandma’s birthday. No dropped stitches, not a one. I do not knit, but you knew that already. I had never even handled knitting needles until I put them in the shopping cart for Leah. That was when I learned they came in different sizes. She had to have knitting needles, because knitting, it seems, is hip with ten-year-olds—and how can I argue with buying them for her because really, it’s so cool she can knit. The fifth-grade crew at her school are into it—not all of them, but on any given day I hear stories about who’s working on what project. They gather together at school at various appropriate times and places, lunch time and such, to knit and chat, and they’ve even started a yarn exchange. Me, I would have been out playing baseball with the boys.

But this is how I know my daughter is a crafter at heart. She spent an entire afternoon painting designs on jars with puffy paint, every jar in the house, I believe. She hummed the entire time, and I knew from her humming she was in a zone. A more typical day includes barking at her brother, bugging her parents to take her to some place on her personal agenda (CreativiTea in Fairhaven is high on her list), or calling friends to play. She’s an on-the-move kind of kid, not someone I would call quiet or reflective, but when she’s crafting, she’s calm, centered, at peace with the world. It’s a Zen thing for her, and I love seeing her in this place.

I’m also glad I don’t have to do it with her, and she doesn’t seem to mind.

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