Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, is in the middle of a very busy year.
In her latest blog, Röhm — mom to 3-year-old Easton August with fiancé Ron Anthony — wonders what she’s teaching her daughter through the choices she makes and the balance she attempts to find.
How do you manage to handle all your priorities? What’s the magic formula? Is there one? Elisabeth wants to know.
I know this might come across as a little too deep for our weekly blog, but I’m feeling a bit philosophical today. I’m wondering, PEOPLE.com readers, what it is that I’m teaching my daughter through my actions? What is she gathering from my juggling act? I want a little insight from your home to mine.
So tell me, how do you manage to handle all your priorities? What’s the magic formula you use to get it all done? How do you find the time to work and be reliable in every other way? What are these little ones learning by watching our actions? Once we move past our feelings of guilt for doing it ALL, what are we teaching our babes from maintaining all these many parts of our lives? And are we proud of ourselves for having found this hard-won balance?
The toughest part of being a working mom is when your baby says, “Don’t go Mommy. Don’t work.” You feel the anxiety when they say, “When are you coming home?”
We are working through this in our house these days. We are discussing the fact that I work and how that makes Easton feel. She knows that I come home after work and that I can be counted on, but it’s not easy to slip off to work in between her moments that all mean so much to me.
As you all know, Easton comes with me on most of my work endeavors, but for those rare occasions — the 24 hour trips — those trips that would frankly be too stressful for her, she sometimes has to stay behind. It breaks both of our hearts just a little, but we are working on what it means to balance work and family in our household these days.
We’re really talking about it! It’s pretty cool that she’s getting old enough to have real and meaningful conversations. Although I am confident that Easton is in the competent hands of her father and not some random nanny, I know that Skype and telephone are not enough to satisfy our longing for each other. We both always have an ache in our heart when we separate for an hour or a day.
So I think about what my actions are teaching her, what’s important and where I have to make sacrifices. That’s normal, right? We are all doing that in each of our homes.
I’d love to hear what you’re saying to your little ones when you have to leave them to take care of your other obligations. How do we handle it all with care and wisdom?
There is not a goodbye or a hello where I don’t think about what I’m teaching her through my choices. The obvious is that I’m showing her how to be responsible and fulfilled in the many areas of her life. It’s not just work that sometimes pulls me away. Sometimes it’s visiting a friend or managing to get a little exercise in. There is the value of her learning that she can do it all.
And through these activities that I sometimes have to do without her that take me out of the house I’m hopefully teaching her how to communicate about her feelings too. I hear her. We are talking about sadness and frustration as much as we are about the joy and love of reuniting. We are getting into a lot lately and most especially the excitement of anticipation and the importance of keeping promises. These are big important life lessons, no?
For instance, yesterday I had to go to Chicago to host their awesome morning show, Windy City LIVE. I chose to go on the redeye so that I could put Easton to sleep. For me, sleep was a sacrifice worth making.
It’s never easy to say goodbye and to explain that I will be back and when I will be back. I promised her I’d only be gone for a day and even though it might have been fun to stay for a little sight-seeing or R&R after the show, I knew I had to prioritize Easton and my promise to her — to teach her about the balance between work and family.
Although doing work you love is a privilege, your family always comes first, right? That’s a big one I’m trying to teach her despite my working too. Making sacrifices to show her and those I love that I put them first should be my top priority, right?
I hope in these early years that I can guide Easton through my actions in what her priorities should be. Having balance, some time to yourself as we discussed last week, the joy of accomplishment, but first and foremost the deep trust and safety we nurture and create with those we love.
I believe we can have it all, PEOPLE.com readers. Most importantly, I believe that our children can have it all and that it’s our job to show them how. There is nothing like going out into the world and scaling those mountains and slaying dragons, but there is absolutely nothing greater than love.
Easton will one day be a young lady with dreams of her own, desires, and a need for love from the people she cares for. It’s my job to encourage her to know that she can have it all and not sacrifice herself or others. She can be an individual. She has a voice. She can have a family. Be a friend. She has time, passion and energy to be truly present in this life. She can be a “yes” person who believes in possibility.
All this she can accomplish with a giving heart, an exuberance for life, selflessness, and a true gratitude for all that’s available.
Now comes the real work. I have to figure out how to do all this so that I can show her through my actions; so that my preaching is not fraudulent in any way. (They can see right through you!) Every day I try to face my own demons, fears and limitations so I can truly impart all of this supposed wisdom to Easton. So that I actually know what I’m talking about!
I’m heading home from Chicago today, having hosted one of my favorite shows, Windy City LIVE. I feel blessed that I’ve had a new experience that I needed to do for my work and truly grateful that I have a family to return to and share my life with. Balance is key, right?
Tell me ladies, what is the most important lesson you wish to impart to your kids? Let’s help each other do it all with a little more grace and wisdom this week. How do you manage to get it all done? What truths do you distill from managing your own juggling act? Let’s help each other focus on lessons and priorities for our families! Let’s keep it real!
As for me, I believe that whatever your ALL is, PEOPLE.com readers, we CAN have it ALL. Let’s help each other show our babes how it’s done!
– Elisabeth Röhm