When Soleil Moon Frye learned she was pregnant with her first child, she thought she'd be the picture-perfect hippie mom she'd always envisioned. Then Poet, now 6, was diagnosed with a severe case of reflux, and the former Punky Brewster actress learned that parenting is a bit more fly by night than most parenting books would have you believe.
When I spoke with actress, social media maven, and mommy ambassador for Target earlier this year, she gave us a sneak peek of her modern mommy manual, Happy Chaos ($14). While the can't-put-down book is filled with anecdotes about her life on set, her many Hollywood crushes (that children of the '80s will love), and the lessons she learned in six years of motherhood, I spoke with her again about her chaotic life as a mom of two — Poet, 6, and Jagger, 3 — and learning the ropes of parenthood. Like sitting down and dishing with your best friend, Soleil wasn't afraid to talk about the dirty details of life.
On why she wrote the book: "The majority of the parenting books that I read before I became a parent were so much about 'this kind of parent, this is how to do this, this is how to do that.' There was nothing that told me about what was going to happen in the hospital, or that I was going to get that ice pack afterward. Nobody told me about the mesh panties. Nobody told me you could have an accident on the table. So I was like how do we not share this with the sisterhood?"
On her husband, Jason Goldberg's, parenting style: "We are total opposites. He's much more conservative; I'm a free-spirit hippie. But then my daughter, Poet, had really bad reflux, so I'd be up all night, walking her every night. So all of the free-spirit things went out the window, and it made me much more fearful than I thought I would be."
On baby weight: "I'm totally that mom who’s like, 'Oh, I just had a baby — and she's 3 years old!" I use baby for an excuse for everything. My girlfriend's like, "Honey, your baby was born two-and-a-half years ago. I think you need to come up with a new excuse!'"
Keep reading for Soleil Moon Frey's thoughts on adding a second child to the family and her biggest parenting challenge.
On going from one kid to two: "I think there’s something about you that just lightens up a bit. It's like, 'Oh, the pacifier fell, I’ll just wipe it off.' You gain perspective in a totally unique way. You’re shocked, first of all, that your heart can ever love again as much [as the first]. . . . When you see the connection between siblings and all of that, it’s baffling. You just start to find your groove right away, and you start to be a little lighter on yourself."
On her biggest parenting challenge right now: "The big boundary that’s been a big struggle is, 'I'm mom, and you guys are my kids.' I want to be their friend, but I also really feel it's important to not just be their friend but be their mom and have a level of respect, and the same for my husband — for them to respect their daddy. That's the one thing that I’ve found really challenging."
On being a working mom: "My friend gave me the best piece of advice: confident parents make confident children. When [I] go to work, I'd [say], 'Oh, mommy has to go to work.' I love what I do, and my friend asked, 'Why are you doing that?' I said, 'Well, I want them to know I want to be with them.' And she said, 'But then you're showing them that [work's] less than [them]. It's making them feel like you're going to do something you don’t want to do, and which is taking time away from them. But if you sit with them and say, I’m going to work, I love what I do, but I love you so much, and if you think of me throughout the day, I'll always be inside of here.' Now, if I'm going to work, and it's like, 'Mommy’s going to do what she loves!' It changed like that, because it made me more comfortable."