May 2011 Features

Ask Moxie


By Dorothy Lehman Hoerr

Charisse: Do you know any way to get a splinter out of my 3-year-old daughter, short of general anesthesia?

Moxie: Yes! It’s bizarre, but it works. Get a banana and cut a piece of the peel to cover the area of the splinter. Put the peel with the inside toward the skin and use surgical tape to tape it snug over the splinter. Have her sleep that way. . . . When she wakes up in the morning, the splinter will have worked its way closer to the surface . . . to yank it out easily.

Moxie—Magda Pecsenye ’94—is the creator of the popular parenting blog, touted by as one of the best mommy blogs. As she notes on her site, she’s not an expert, “just a mom” who helps parents troubleshoot their problems “as if we were sitting on a bench together,” says Pecsenye, the mother of two sons, ages nine and 5-1/2.

Her entrance into the realm of digital media came somewhat unexpectedly. She originally started reading blogs on infertility treatments in support of friends who were considering them. “Slowly but surely,” she says, “many of these women from the infertility blogs had children.” And after trying so hard to get pregnant, many of the women made anxious mothers, she says. “They put a lot on themselves.”

In those early days of commenting on blogs, Pecsenye often counseled the new moms that their anxieties were normal and they should give themselves a break. “You always give such good advice,” she kept hearing from others. “You should start an advice column.”

So in November of 2005, Ask Moxie debuted. In her first blog, Pecsenye lamented how attached parents become to whichever theory of infant sleep they happen to have read. Moxie declared that there’s nothing in these parenting books that grandmothers didn’t already know years ago.

“The response was just phenomenal,” Pecsenye says. The questions started pouring in—and today, she gets 140,000 hits a month. “I can’t seem to stop answering people’s questions,” she says.

But Ask Moxie is no typical Internet chat. The blog is known for having one of the most congenial readerships on the web. Pecsenye attributes the friendly atmosphere to her attitude toward advice-giving. “I really do not know a lot about child development,” she explains. She wants the blog to sound more like moms just sharing whatever works for them.

“I focus more on the parents than the kids,” she says. “There are not too many things you do unintentionally that will screw up your kids for life. My concern in all this is not what happens to the kids; it’s what experience the parents are having.” If people don’t feel good about themselves as parents, Pecsenye asserts, “it affects everything you do for the rest of your life.”

Even though her sons aren’t babies anymore, Pecsenye’s interest in helping new parents hasn’t flagged. “I remember vividly what it felt like to be in that space,” she says. “I just want to say to them: you’re doing the best you can, and this is going to get better.”