Courtesy Elisabeth Röhm
Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, has a busy year ahead of her.
In her latest blog, Röhm and fiancé Ron Anthony are excited for their first real date night after 3-year-old daughter Easton August schedules her first sleepover — but the evening doesn’t go as planned!
When did your kids have their first sleepover? What do you and your man do when you have a night alone?
It was almost perfect, PEOPLE.com readers. Not life as a whole — which is pretty darn good these days — but our date night! We had a whole plan for ourselves that was to surpass all other attempted dates. And we were psyched!
You see, in the last three years, our daughter has been with one or both of us every day and night, other than her schooling — as she should’ve been. In addition, we also don’t live near any relatives and we’ve made a decision that we would never leave her alone for an overnight with her nanny, Lupe.
It just never felt comfortable to us. Yes, we’ve gone out to dinner and have had plenty of time to bond when she’s been at school. Yet we’ve never been alone for a 24 hour period — no evenings at a hotel or even in our own house since she was born. Excessive you might say — or not. It was right for our clan.
Until the other night, when we decided that it was appropriate for Easton to have her first sleepover. It was to take place at her Aunt Cathy’s house, who is a dear friend and like a sister to me. Easton and Cathy have a bond of their very own and have often expressed a desire to have a sleepover. Saturday night was the night we all felt Easton was ready. Woo-hoo! Everyone was excited!
Although I was sort of anticipating a call at say, 9 p.m., with tears and confusion, I didn’t want to project it on the whole group, so I tried to keep my thoughts to myself. I decided to allow what seemed like a natural progression. So at 3:30 p.m., Ron and I dropped Easton at Aunt Cathy’s and rushed off — a little bit giddy — to have our first mini-vacation!
The weather was picturesque! We drove in the California sunshine and warmth to the even warmer destination of our Bikram yoga class. Of course, we get to share short activities together all the time but we, like you ladies, rush home afterward to relieve the sitter, sister or mother who has stepped in for a few hours. But that Saturday was our first sleepover — we were on our own!
After yoga, we actually got to go eat something that we were able to savor and not rush though. And after that, we had our dessert at a different establishment, then took a little walk and wondered what to do with this newfound freedom. Movie? Nah. At a loss, we wandered into a few stores and looked around. What to do? What to do?
Now, we had been checking in with Aunt Cathy and everything was going along swimmingly with the little one. They had gone to the park, the market, had an ice cream and were happily heading home to give Cathy’s treehouse a facelift! It is truly an incredible structure, this treehouse. Cathy dreaded the idea of ever taking it down and had decided to leave it up for Easton’s childhood.
That night they were going to anoint it officially as “Easton’s Treehouse.” Since her kids were mere weeks away from college, the treehouse obviously needed some major TLC. Cathy and Easton had a big project ahead of them, what with wanting to put up fairy lights, decorate with pillows, table and chairs etc. to give it that magical lived-in look. They were just too busy to talk to Mom and Dad!
It was then after that last call that my anticipation of Easton’s desire to come home fully melted from my ever-prepared mom shoulders and I truly felt relaxed. I knew that Ron and I had an evening ahead of us and that Easton was safe, sound and seriously thrilled to be having a big girl party with her Aunty! We wisely chose to go home and fully embrace our freedom.
It dawned on us as we walked into a clean, quiet (oh yeah, our dog Chloe was away for the sleepover too) house that was suddenly all ours that we have never had an evening alone in our house. What a novelty it was to be “home alone!” Wow, it was a slice of heaven … almost.
Until that darn phone rang! Perfectly timed to us lighting candles and getting in bed to get some, I kid you not … REST! We were so excited to sleep in our own bed through the night without the familiar pitter-patter. But instead, RING-A-DING-DING! There was the phone piercing our bubble with its shrill interruption.
“She’s not ready,” Cathy said. And trusting Cathy as I do I said, “I’m on my way.”
How quickly the night changed from almost perfect to the loving chaos of a family and its needs. We drove quickly, feeling badly that Easton’s fear of sleeping without us was keeping her up past her bedtime. When we got there they were peacefully watching The Berenstain Bears, but I could see that Easton was past her prime.
This was confirmed as we drove home to her tears of fatigue. I don’t know if it was the drama of the car ride or if Chloe ate some garbage at Cathy’s, but the stars aligned in that moment of chaos and our dog added to the shift in our evening by throwing up.
Oh, that was a fun car ride home! How did it go from candles and yoga to tears and vomit?! Hilarious, PEOPLE.com readers! It didn’t really seem so at the time, but now looking back I can say it was rather endearing. All but the doggie part!
After we got home and I had carried Easton to her bedroom and kissed her goodnight, she said, “Sing to me Mommy,” as she always does. She wasn’t ready yet for the big sleepover that night, but we both knew as she fell asleep in my arms that she had grown by leaps and bounds that day.
Last night we all had dinner and Easton said to Aunt Cathy, “I want to sleep at your house tonight.” We all chimed in that maybe we could try again over the weekend when there is no school or work. I was glad we’d ended on a high note and not forced the issue because they were both still excited by the idea.
As much as Ron and I had embraced our moment of freedom, we always want Easton to know that her feelings matter and that her opinion counts. She has the right to change her mind and come home. Hopefully she’ll always know that. Right moms? Even when they are all grown-up, we want our kids to know that they are safe and can always come home to us. Even if they have families of their own. They are our babies after all …
I’m still rooting for that perfect date night. Who knows, maybe this Saturday I’ll get lucky! I’ll be keeping you posted as I always do. Tell me what’s going on in your lives, ladies!
— Elisabeth Röhm