Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Our Fragile World

Last night I told my husband the online Bellingham Herald had the latest update on Dwight, the WWU student who disappeared last week. He knew, without me telling him, that the news was bad.

“I don’t think I want up-to-the-minute coverage,” he said. “I’ll read the paper tomorrow.”

My husband doesn’t dwell in dark places. He doesn’t like to think about what-ifs, and he doesn’t want to hear the details about children’s deaths. I, on the other hand, allow my mother brain to go to the darkest of dark places. I know I’m not the only one—I’ve read entire essays devoted to this female phenomenon.

Imagine, then, the last week and a half here in Bellingham. I cannot stop thinking about the 2-year-old girl hit by a car in front of one of our high schools. Or the girl who never in a million years expected to cause an accident on a sunny afternoon, and, oh, I can’t stop imagining my own daughter in her shoes in two and a half years. And I can’t stop thinking about Dwight, a boy whose world was his oyster, who had just arrived in town to begin his college career at the university. He was five years older than my daughter is now.

I feel the urge to pull my kids close and keep them close. And yet life must be lived, and children must walk without you. They will learn to drive, encounter strangers, use their own judgment, make their own decisions. You can’t stop the process—it’s like trying to dam the ocean.

And even when they’re old enough to leave home, they will not be ready. They will learn on the fly, through experience, through mistakes, through others’ mistakes, through their parents’ mistakes, and most of the time, they will be fine, but sometimes not. It’s the nature of being human in a fragile, delicately balanced, beautiful world that brings heartbreak every day.


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Community Support

Last night, Whatcom Middle School parents and students gathered in the Bellingham High School theater to hear about where we go from here with the sudden loss of our middle school to fire.

We heard Principal Jeff Coulter’s voice crack as he gave an emotional address to remind us that we’ll be okay, all of us, the kids, the teachers, the parents. We listened to district officials give details about the decision-making process behind where our kids are placed (Leah will be traveling to Fairhaven Middle School), as well as transportation details (two-thirds of the school will be traveling by bus to schools outside our zone), as well as the district hopes for Whatcom’s restoration. Time will tell.

I have never seen so many parents–about 800–gathered in one venue, and it was a reminder of just how many of us are in this together. Not only us, but also students, teachers, and staff from Bellingham High, Geneva Elementary, and Fairhaven Middle, many of whom are scrambling as I write this to relocate their classrooms and make room for Whatcom teachers and students. Coulter told us last night he is humbled by the community support. I am, too.

I saw it firsthand yesterday at BHS. Leah and I went to help with the classroom moves and to unload cardboard boxes from parents’ vehicles, boxes designated for the collection of school supplies. The BHS teachers and students had already been moving the contents of their classrooms for much of the day to make room in one wing of the school for Whatcom’s eighth graders. Not only do the kids get their own wing, the high school students have welcomed them into it with “Whatcom Wildcats” signs and posters.

Two nights ago, I met, by chance, a Fairhaven Middle School student who positively glowed at the prospect of welcoming Whatcom students into her school. She wanted to know my daughter’s name.

I know I can speak for all Whatcom parents when I say thank you to all. We are so grateful, and we live in an amazing community.

Today’s Bellingham Herald gives details of last night’s meeting. If you want to help, you can find a list of ways here

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Last Night’s Fire

I have been processing the news of Whatcom Middle School, my daughter’s school, all morning, since about 6:20am when Curt woke me to tell me the news.

“What?” My mind felt so fuzzy.

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard by now the school was ravaged by fire. Our household, along with hundreds of others, is spinning. After getting Ty out the door to elementary school—how weird is that to send one out the door but not the other—Leah and I decided to go get breakfast at the Bagelry. Sounds odd, maybe, but I thought it would be okay.

I was doing fine holding it together until we were eating our eggs and someone leaned over from the neighboring table to say, “Are you a Whatcom Middle School family? I’m so sorry for your loss.”

And then it really sank in, my throat closed up, and my eyes filled with tears. It is a loss, and to have an unknown community member acknowledge it out loud brought it all home. There are 580 kids and their teachers and staff and principal without a school.

Teachers have lost years of lesson plans, materials, and resources. Class schedules, upcoming sports, current sports, a daily routine—it’s all gone for the foreseeable future, at least as Whatcom Middle School. All this after dealing with the disruption of the seismic retrofit since last January, truly no picnic, and nearly complete at last.

We’re all waiting to hear how everyone will be accommodated.

Leah and I drove past the school on the way home. Some of the upper windows are blown out, the window shades contorted and bent, the sky visible through those windows where the roof caved in, the top of the building blackened along the roof line. The water damage is exensive, though it’s invisible from the street. From one day to the next, we’ve gone from a vibrant, functioning building to a shell.

You can catch the latest here at the Herald if you haven’t already. Here are the gallery photos.

And thanks for sending your good thoughts out to everyone affected.


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Bike Helmets

I am putting out an impassioned plea for all cyclists to wear bike helmets all the time, even if you’re only riding to your friend’s house a few blocks away (and I can tell you, I am mightily guilty of riding without a helmet back in the day).

If you’re one of those parents who put helmets on their kids but not themselves, then get with it and get yours on too. Go buy one if you have to because your kids want you around for their high school graduations.

Here’s why I care: Last week a friend was out on a training ride one evening when he was hit by a car from behind. He was thrown up onto the car, breaking the windshield as he went, to somersault over the back and land on his head. His helmet saved his life. Even so, he suffered a major concussion, deep, deep bruising, broken ribs, and broken vertebrae, as well as acres of road rash. His healing process will be lengthy. If he hadn’t been wearing a helmet, well, I don’t need to say it.

All it takes is one inattentive driver. Get yourself a helmet. For your kids’ sake.


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District Budget Crunch

If you’ve been paying attention to the school district’s woes, you know we’re facing a major budget crunch, and the district is looking at all kinds of ways to save, large and small. It’s not going to be easy.

We have a little more time to make comments on the proposed budget, so if you’re a district parent and you haven’t taken time to review the plan, take the time now. Now is the time to voice your concerns. Bear in mind that this process wasn't easy and many folks put a lot of thought into it. Please be respectful. 

Budget Savings Plan, click here.

Online Listening Board, click here. 

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