Courtesy Elisabeth Röhm
The actress recently appeared on CSI: Miami. She also has a role on The Client List and upcoming films Transit and Officer Down out later this year. She can be found on Facebook, Google + and @ElisabethRohm.
In her latest blog, Röhm — mom to 3½-year-old Easton August with fiancé Ron Anthony — realizes that by being overly cautious, she’s taking all the fun out of a family bike ride.
Please share your embarrassing tales of overbearing parenting with Elisabeth in the comments.
You know how we always look at other people’s less savory habits and think things like, “That would never happen to me,” “I’d never do that” or worse, “What’s wrong with them?” Okay, I’ll admit, I’ve done that a time or two. But we can get into that later — that’s another blog!
For today, I have important parenting advancement or rather regression to share … it has come to my attention that I have become “like them” — that person or parent I thought I’d never be. The above-referenced person that was way off-base, off-track and completely unlike myself. Meaning, I’ve lost a bit of the cool customer I once was.
I’m not saying that’s totally out of left field as a parent. I mean, c’mon — we are tested daily by our little ones. Not to mention they help us grow immeasurably. It would be pretty hard to stay free-spirited and mellow with them 24/7, or with ourselves for that matter. Gone are those reckless outings — sort of.
I am ashamed to say that I have morphed into a bit of a worrier. Truthfully, my poor girl can’t do anything these days without me saying, “Be careful.” I mean, I don’t want her to get hurt. Can you blame me? But I don’t want her to grow up nervous and tentative either. I just don’t like how uptight I’m becoming. I think I need an intervention (just kidding).
It really became clear to me the other night. At 5 p.m., we took a bike ride with Little Miss E., who wanted to cruise on her hot pink tricycle as the sun was setting. And who could blame her? It was a gorgeous late afternoon here in Venice, Calif.
Ron and I followed faithfully behind, enjoying her joy and athleticism. Easton loves to fly on her bike as if it were a horse. Think Every Cowgirl Needs A Horse (great book, by the way). By nature, she’s brave and likes to gallop free — only to be stopped every three seconds by my yelping, “Stop! Slow down.” Easton was just beginning to feel the wind in her hair, but had to bring her bike/horse to a standstill so that I could catch up.
“Okay, you can go now,” I’d say. So, Easton would start to peddle off into the sunset once again with a delicious smile spreading across her face and a winsome giggle — until I’d notice a driveway and shout, “Stop! Cars can’t see you when they are backing up.”
And since the houses in Venice are close together, there’s a driveway every 50 feet. She couldn’t get any speed. Whether it was the road, an alley or a driveway, I was running to catch up and urging her to slow down or stop all together.
Now, of course I was practicing safety, but I’m dialing it back to my childhood and thinking about how I could leave for entire afternoons to ride my bike or explore in the woods of upstate New York. My whole childhood was about freedom and scraped knees. I loved it. That kind of freedom made me confident.
Easton picked up her pace again as Ron pretended to race her — and I noticed that as she turned around to see her father on her heels, her bike began to wobble a little. “Careful, you could fall over,” I warned, as if that was the worst thing in the world. Yes, I began to notice my annoying and fearful warnings as exaggerated and stifling — but it didn’t end there.
Soon, Easton wanted off the bike to do some exploring. I mean, who wouldn’t want a little adventure if someone was calling out to you every couple of minutes to watch out, slow down or be careful? So she gets off her bike to say “Hi” to a seemingly sweet little pup that was in its yard, wagging its tail and basically smiling at us as Easton moved closer.
As she approached to say hello to the little fella I said, “Oh, don’t touch the doggie. He might bite you.” As the words came out of my mouth, I cringed. I was raised as and by an animal lover and even consider myself to be somewhat of an animal whisperer. I would constantly save strays, rehabilitate hurt animals and have been a horseback rider since I was five years old.
When it comes to animals, I am fearless. Why was I making my daughter afraid of animals? Who was this person that had taken possession of my body? Of course I was right, to a certain extent, considering that we didn’t know the dog or the owners, but the pup was harmless. I could have told you that. Yet, I had to pipe up and squash her fun for fear of a freak accident.
I mean, it’s my baby we’re talking about it. Even though I felt justified, I knew deep down that I had to get control of this new development in my parenting.
It didn’t end there. Oh no. Then there was the filthy shirt she wanted to examine and the shower that someone had left out for the trash pickup that she wanted to explore. “Don’t touch that, Easton,” I said. “Dirty. We don’t know who touched those last.” She recoiled as if I had saved her, because she trusts me. But what kind of message was I sending? “Be afraid.”
Ugh, by the end of the walk I had exhausted myself — not to mention Ron and Easton — with my litany of fears. The poor girl hadn’t been allowed to do anything adventurous at all. As we made our way back into the house as it turned dark, I thought, “Ah-hah, I have a blog to write.”
I mean seriously ladies, what the hell was wrong with me?! Who have I become? A mom. I get it. I’m supposed to protect her. But I swear I sounded like Old Mother Hubbard. You can just call me Granny, PEOPLE.com.
And let me tell you, I always think that the best part of my childhood were those lost hours outside playing — the time I fell off my bike or my horse and got back on. Those memories always make me feel like I can do anything. Let’s face it, kids need to play, sweat, get dirty, climb fences, resolve conflict and race their darn bikes.
For the record, I’m a pretty fun, free-spirited and wild soul. I really couldn’t believe the measure of my warnings and the caution I was encouraging Easton to have. It’s a character departure, for sure! So I’m going to work on this — after all, I want to encourage Easton to be brave, don’t I? I don’t want to raise a scared little mouse.
Please tell me your tales of woeful descent into overbearing parenting, ladies — I’m dying to know.
Until next week, my friends.
— Elisabeth Röhm