PEOPLE Moms & Babies is happy to introduce our newest celebrity blogger — Elisabeth Röhm!
The actress, 37, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, wrapped a stint on Heroes last year and has a busy 2011 ahead of her.
She can be seen on the big screen in the upcoming films Chlorine, Transit and Abduction, and plans to continue her role as spokesmom for Juno Baby.
In her first blog, Röhm — who is mom to 2½-year-old daughter Easton August with fiancé Ron Anthony — tackles the topic of embracing change in the new year.
Change is constant. Our children show us this distilled truth, time and time again. As the new year unfolds before us, we are all contemplating what changes we will make to enrich our lives. We shouldn’t worry about that too much though, because rest assured, change will happen in our lives regardless of the decisions we make.
All we have to do, really, is just sit back and allow the changes to come. We must let go of fear and listen to our heart’s desire. As Martha Graham says, “We take leap after leap in the dark.” There is a beauty to not knowing and trusting our inner longing. Children teach us this. They are so brave and clear about what they want; it is truly inspiring.
Yesterday I was looking at a potential school for my 2½-year-old daughter, Easton. I was blown away by The New School-West in Los Angeles. They have achieved such a thoughtful approach to development and it was simply exciting to listen to the director speak. Her thoughts and deeds were aligned and expressed perfectly through the Reggio system.
Moms, you must explore these types of schools if you have not already. Reggio acknowledges children as having rights as individuals in every aspect of their lives. They are viewed as active participants in the organization of their identities, abilities and autonomy, through relationships and interaction with their peers, with adults, with ideas, with objects and with real and imaginary events in their various worlds. We, as parents, have to support their growth, knowledge of themselves and allow them the freedom they crave to be individuals. We must give them permission to be ever-changing beings that know what they want. We must listen to them.
The director of The New School-West impressed upon us how vital it was to allow our children the opportunity to do full days in school at the age of 3 as opposed to brief mornings where they could barely adjust to the separation and new environment. This was slightly overwhelming for me because being with Easton on a daily and hourly basis has defined me, or should I say, redefined me. Knowing that my world revolves around her every day and for all hours of the day has given me a strict purpose.
Moms, I know you’ll agree with me when I say that it has been a true struggle to find ourselves since our little ones came into our world. But we managed, didn’t we? To find the time for ourselves so that we could feel our own skin again. Now that we’ve gotten used to that first phase of life with our children, we are being faced with the next one: their first departure from us.
The director urged us to understand that our children want to be in school with their peers; that they want to share the day together with their friends and face their joys and challenges, meals and naps, hellos and goodbyes, together. Their friends and teachers are their community and they want to be with them.
They willingly embrace the changes in their lives without baggage or real fear. They accept and allow change because it is natural, inevitable and constant. They are wise. They know even if we don’t, that moving on doesn’t mean losing something. They still think of us every 20 minutes, even if they are enjoying their newfound freedom.
I sat there listening to this woman I didn’t know and knew she was teaching me something profound. She expressed the importance of supporting Easton’s independence and sense of community. She aptly said, “We have to accept that what we want for our little ones may not be what they want for themselves.”
So, I accepted the fact that Easton was changing and decided in this new year that I would provide her with a few full days at school. Exciting, right? What will I do with all that time for myself? I suppose I’ll have to grow and change as well; discover who I am in this new phase of my life, too.
I was not surprised at all by the poetic beauty this morning as I left Easton at school. She no longer clung to my leg or asked to be held. She ran off to a cluster of her friends in her cozy sweater and cowboy boots (which she had chosen to wear) and barely turned around as she said, “I love you, Mom. Bye.”
I couldn’t help but smile with anticipation at the unknown changes that were going to be coming my way now that I had embraced that life is always moving forward.
Before I took Easton to school this morning, my stepfather — who lives in Europe — called. He is a recent widower, as my mother just passed away a year ago. He had called to tell me that he had met a woman. He wanted my blessing to move on. He wanted to let me know that he was changing by allowing himself to love again.
His call came at the perfect time. Not only was I learning to release my daughter to her natural changes, but life was now providing me with another opportunity to confirm this absolute truth; change is constant, change is constructive and change is necessary. My stepfather, not unlike my daughter, wanted to be released to embrace his next chapter. They both had shown me that they wanted to change and to grow.
As they say, “If you love something, set it free.”
In this new year, I acknowledge that Easton is growing up right before my eyes and that it is a privilege for me to be on her journey with her. My mother used to say that I was her greatest teacher. I now know what she meant.
Dear reader, if we listen to our children, they will be our greatest teachers. They are pure and have intuitive clarity. As they change, they allow us to find ourselves again and again. What a blessing to be a mother. Happy New Year.
— Elisabeth Röhm