"The love between Easton and me has grown that much stronger because of the care we are showing her with our thoughtful transition," Elisabeth Röhm writes
Elisabeth Röhm is a busy mama!
Best known for her roles as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order and in films like American Hustle and Joy, the actress is currently starring as Aria Price on her Sony Crackle show The Oath.
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First, I’d like to say I’m sorry to my PEOPLE.com family for my absence and being absorbed in my love bubble here at home. I’ve thought of you often and missed dishing, supporting and growing here together. Now that I’ve had some more time to assimilate this new chapter of “life after divorce” and “life after engagement” along with the day-to-day ups and downs of motherhood, I’m ready to jump back into the trenches of transparency and vulnerability with you guys and get to the heart of the matter more regularly. I’m interested in hearing more about what you’re looking to talk about, too. Please message me on Instagram so that we can get into what is going on in your lives, as well.
On Jan. 26, Jonathan Colby and I got engaged in San Diego, as those of you know that follow me on social media. And as much as I could have written a blog every day gushing about the benefits of true love finally finding me and the many escapades of happiness, I’ve hesitated every time I’ve reached out to write you guys, not knowing what the point was other than to say how incredibly happy I am — which doesn’t feel blog-worthy, right? That’s not the way we do it here!
The purpose of this blog has always been to be blisteringly real and tackle with complete honesty the challenging parts of parenting and, more recently, divorce. Not that this blog is negative by any means, but the intention of it is to get down to the nitty-gritty and the harder things in our families. The things that I don’t know the answers to are what we share here, and as a community, we sort it out.
So the good news is that I’m still so very happy. I’m happier every day, which is humbling and so illuminating about what was missing in my life for so long. I guess I needed to go on a journey (which took far longer than expected) of working on myself, which I have done, and we are my great reward for not shrinking away from those issues, habits, blind spots or pains inside myself that were creating obstacles for me in my love life.
I couldn’t have created a better human in my love laboratory. I couldn’t have dreamed Jonathan up, and needless to say I’m grateful that God intervened and exceeded all my expectations of what love could truly be. Jonathan really is so many things I longed for: generous, kind, funny, alive, loyal, intelligent, elegant and passionate. And one of the big ones is how much Jonathan cares about Easton and me as a mother-daughter duo, and our mental health and well-being as an unbreakable unit. He’s a dream come true, and I feel incredibly lucky every day to be sharing life and co-parenting with him.
Some people find it early on, but I guess I’m a late bloomer in this regard. In most cases, growth is just trial by error for many of us and through our experiences we either learn or shut down from hurt. That’s the human reaction to this “crazy thing called love.”
Thankfully, my heart has stayed somewhat open and after my attempts and disappointments, I finally evolved and matured in my own life to be able to love and be loved in a healthy, lasting way. Fingers and toes crossed that we always appreciate each other and never take each other for granted. Jonathan is my ride or die. I try to stay very aware of being deeply appreciative of him.
My friend Steve Maraboli recently asked on his Instagram account if people believed in soulmates. As you can imagine, the comments were varied, and ultimately I was not surprised to see how many people did not. There are a lot of broken hearts out there. I might have lumped mine in that category not long ago of the wavering heart — the one that had experienced enough to know that as much as I wanted to be a believer, I wasn’t getting any signs that this soulmate thing was real after all.
Of course, I’d longed for that kind of connection and peace with another person, just like everyone else. Yet love had eluded me and been a whole lot of drama from the very beginning, with the typical game-playing and starts-and-stops of the unfailing pathology and human ego getting in the way and messing the whole love thing up. One thing is for sure: We all want it, but boy do we struggle with knowing how to attract it, maintain it and keep it safe.
Needless to say, this blog isn’t a love column or a “Dear Abby” of lonely souls. No, this is a Mommy blog, so thankfully I’m just happy to report to my friends and fans that our love story is going strong and we are truly happy. Which is quite a wonderful thing! I’m betting on us to make it! And yes, now I am firm in my belief of soulmates — although it’s true, I confess, I had begun to get weary in my childhood fantasy of true love. So count me in now as a fully reformed idealist.
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That said, where does Easton fit into all this love stuff at the tender age of 11? I know many of you have been there, right? I’m sure you have a wealth of knowledge and advice! I have friends who have tried with great care to blend their modern families. Some have succeeded and some have failed terribly. Some have tried with all their might, and yet the relationship has fallen apart in their very home for their children to undergo yet another disappointment. It’s no easy task, and I must say it made both Jonathan and me pause with fear and trepidation as we embarked on what Easton’s reaction would be. We didn’t want to fail each other in trying to achieve this balance.
It was a normal reaction — one based in the fear of losing her mommy. No surprise there. Our kids are smarter than we think they are. For instance, when I told Easton privately in a special way over a beautiful lunch that Jonathan and I don’t want to be with anyone else forever and that he had given me a commitment ring, she called me out and said, “That’s not a commitment ring, that’s an engagement ring. Oh no! I’m going to have a stepfather.” Treading carefully and not being really real, I didn’t give her enough credit, and I knew then that I would lose credibility if I didn’t change my whole tactic moving forward.
We live in different cities also, so there was the ultimate fear of moving and all that upheaval. Jonathan and I, as a couple, don’t believe in being hijacked by emotional terrorists in general, but certainly not little ones. And although our love is front and center, we also know that we are the adults in charge and that we must always be a united front and make difficult decisions and lead by example. Jonathan and I talked about our future and our future as a family, and I think we made a pretty healthy and selfless choice which has been producing great results and that I feel is blog-worthy and certainly has been a lesson on life, love and the pursuit of happiness: patience. Back to trying to avoid as much collateral damage in life as possible.
Both Jonathan and I, as children, endured divorce and the rocky road of new marriages, stepparents and moving, and needless to say it was really important for us to make the transition for our family intentionally well adjusted where in her adult years, Easton would not look back and reference our marriage as the worst thing that has ever happened to her and carry that burden with her through her own adult relationships.
Also, Jonathan doesn’t have children, and was very careful about his own adjustment into our lives and being in a family with a young child. We should all be cognizant that even though a future spouse may not have had children, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have the capacity to be a magnificent and loving parent. Our ultimate thought was, “Why be in a rush to live together full time when we have the rest of our lives to be together and Easton only has seven years left at home before college?”
Call it unconventional, but we have chosen to live back and forth between our two already-established homes, so that as little change as possible occurs for all of us in these early months of a forever love. It was our priority to be compassionate and thoughtful so that her ship wasn’t rocked so dramatically that we all suffered from her narrative being one of pain, confusion and loathing versus love and celebration. In the end, we would have all lost out.
The other thing we did is we always put our love in the light and never sneaked around, lied or created shades of gray so that Easton would have a false sense of things. We talked about our love with her, we celebrate our love with her and we honor our relationship in a way that is healthy and positive as opposed to apologetic and awkward with Easton so that she understands that although we are taking our time, this is happening. In making this choice, we are prioritizing one-on-one time between us — a mom and daughter — and also Jonathan and me as a couple, where things can grow without the unnecessary burden of forcing everyone to change their lives completely and suddenly, which can be so traumatic. We know all about that personally, and it didn’t do us any favors.
For now, we are going back and forth every week between both of our homes in the hopes and with the purpose of making this love bubble expand gently over time. We have the sacred intention of knowing that even though there is more beautiful love in all of our lives, the human heart — especially the little one — is tender and already has experienced enough sadness in the demise of her biological family. We know time, patience and a consciousness of the value of both make all transitions much easier and far less stressful, even for the adults who carry the burden of processing all the drama that can often times undo or strain the fabric of love. The results have been sweet and confirmed that there is no benefit to rushing and forcing things unnaturally.
It has also confirmed for me that intimacy requires time spent one on one, and the specialness of that maintains trust and closeness between not only the adults, but you and your children. I think it’s fair to say that the love between Easton and me has grown that much stronger because of the care we are showing her with our thoughtful transition. She can’t understand the sacrifice, but something in her heart knows that we value her feelings and life experience. She feels safe, which is key, and not something either of us can say we felt in our childhoods considering the traumatic transitions we experienced. It’s hard not to be selfish sometimes, but our hope is that we receive the dividends in the future of having a really happy relationship with Easton.
We are all looking forward to our beautiful modern family expanding, and our marriage in 2020. As we have taken our time, even Easton now brings it up on her own with excitement and curiosity. It’s not being done to her. She’s a part of the journey.
Anyway, this is where we are today. Who knows where we will be tomorrow? But one thing I know for sure is, so far so good.
Blending a family can be an emotional roller coaster for everyone. It’s scary at times because you, as a mom and a future wife, want to be all things for everyone. I guess that pretty much is the definition of a matriarch — something women struggle with in their family dynamic even if they are not blending a new family. You don’t want to lose closeness with your babies, but you also don’t want to be alone forever (as in the case of Jonathan and me) or create distance between you and your husband. And then there is work. How do we pull all this off with grace and balance?
I think personal blogs can help from a distance when we’re on the ground floor, duking it out in this thing called life, and certainly deep communication does help always. This blog has always been a sincere place to go deep or go home — to share, to be revealed and to become a better version of ourselves as moms (and dads).
Having challenges in your life doesn’t mean you’re deficient in any way. I think we can re-frame our challenges as a welcome and courageous commitment to having the most loving and healthy family possible. We must embrace our challenges together, because it makes us stronger human beings.
I love my PEOPLE.com family, and look forward to sharing more of our lives and the beautiful messy journey of love and my family with you soon.
Until next time …