Interview with Child Actress, Author and Mother Soleil Moon Frye
Punky Brewster’s all grown up, with two kids of her own, and a new book about embracing the chaos of parenthood
You might remember her as Punky Brewster, the titular character of the ‘80s TV series about a plucky orphan with funky fashion sense, but now actress Soleil Moon Frye is all grown up, with two daughters, an eco-friendly children’s clothing line, a role as Target's Mommy Ambassador, and a growing social media empire. She’s now also author of the new memoir, Happy Chaos, about her unorthodox and star-studded childhood (she hot-tubbed with Michael Jackson, spilled a drink on Muhammed Ali, and celebrated her 12th birthday with Johnny Depp) as well as her own motherhood adventure. We spoke to her during a whirlwind trip to New York to find out what her kids think of Punky, how Demi Moore ended up as her birth coach, and what she loves about Facebook.
You write about visiting graveyards in the middle of the night, traveling all over, keeping odd hours and having a house full of animals as a kid. Your childhood sounds totally unconventional but fun. What aspects of it do you try to recreate for your kids?
I try to just embrace the messiness and craziness of life. And to remember that not every moment is going to be perfect. My goal is to try not to be so hard on myself because we are all just trying to get along.
We all think we’ll be a certain kind of parent, and then surprise ourselves with what kind of parent we actually are. What’s surprised you most?
I thought I would be the hippie mom. And then my first baby was born, and she had really bad reflux and colic, and I thought maybe I won’t be the kind of laid-back parent I thought I was going to be after all. I find myself saying things I never thought I’d say, and I realize I totally sound like that mom right now. Last night I heard myself saying, “you have to get to sleep now!” But then I caught myself and did an impromptu musical performance to try to make it fun. I really try to turn crazy moments into something fun.
How did Demi Moore end up as your birth coach?
My husband and Ashton [Kutcher] are partners. She is such an amazing friend and such a support in my life. She is also one of the most giving people in the universe. I figure having three kids, she knows a thing or two, so I said, “You’re gonna be there with me, right?" She was there both times, although for my second I was worried she was going to be on the road but she made it. She massaged my legs and was amazing; she must have been a midwife in a past life.
What are your daughters Poet and Jagger’s personalities like? How are they different?
They are both very deep and filled with wisdom. Poet is free-spirited and funny and loves performing. It’s funny; I was very shy until I was three, just like her. Jagger is really independent and very sensitive inside. She’s also a cuddle bug, in between being a baby and a little girl. I’m holding on to every moment of her being a baby.
Does seeing her leave the baby stage make you want to have more?
I am definitely open to having more babies. We are starting the conversation.
How do you balance your work with family? Describe a typical day and how you make it work.
It’s crazy and I try my best. I spend quality time with the girls, and then I set time aside to work. I try to take breaks in the day to go for ice cream, or bake cookies. I am also one of those lucky people who gets inspired at night. Sometimes I stay up way too late trying to get it all done.
Have your kids seen Punky Brewster? Do they love her?
They have seen some YouTubes, very old school, and they think it’s hysterical and fun. And they think it’s funny when I wear braids. One that was really important to show them was the Andy Gibb episode, because that was my favorite.
How did you get so into social media? Your book is filled with quotes from real parents you connected with online.
As a new mom I had so many questions, and I was looking for a way to connect to other parents. I felt so alone and felt like I was getting everything wrong. How had other parents done this before? Is every house as crazy as mine? I realized there were so many other families going through the same thing. Twitter and Facebook have become such a part of my life, and they’ve actually become my mommy group.
You’ve got an organic clothing line, The Little Seed, and yet you keep gummy candies in the cabinet. What’s your philosophy on healthy living?
I think it’s important for kids to have love and respect for food. We go to the farmers' market, we cook together, and they love doing it with me. They have a love for food, but at the same time, if they have a piece of candy, it’s ok.
How do you go with rather than fight the chaos? I think a lot of moms would like to know!
I am by no means perfect but I try to have fun, get on their level, and remember the kid I was. Sometimes the greatest teachers are our own children. I also allow myself the freedom to say, you know, I was not perfect in that moment, but I’ll try to do better the next time.