Elisabeth Röhm’s Blog: It’s Never Too Late for a Second Childhood

12/01/2011 at 08:00 AM ET
Happy Thanksgiving! – Courtesy Elisabeth Röhm

Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, is ending a very busy year.

The actress recently appeared on the big screen in Abduction, has upcoming films Chlorine, Transit and Officer Down to come and is found online on Facebook and @ElisabethRohm on Twitter.

In her latest blog, Röhm — mom to 3½-year-old Easton August with fiancé Ron Anthony — celebrates Thanksgiving with her father and family, and gets some great news: everybody’s moving to California!

Does your family live close to you? Tell Elisabeth about your experience in the comments.

The holidays are always full of surprises as well as time-honored traditions, right?! Well, we experienced a little bit of both in Santa Fe, New Mexico over Thanksgiving. As we indulged in turkey, stuffing, cranberries and the usual fare, my father and stepmother — along with my sister — announced that they are all moving to California come summer.

Needless to say, I was blown away by the news!

First of all, my parents are total diehard New Yorkers. What will they do without that hustle and bustle? Are they sure they know what they’re getting into by moving to California of all places? The bagels just can’t compare! Secondly, my sister has been happily living in South Carolina. I mean, that’s a far nicer place than Los Angeles!

On top of that, I also really associate myself with the Empire State. So how strange will it be come summer when we’ll all be living in California for significant chunks of time? It just doesn’t feel natural — New York has defined all of us for so long.

It’s true that Ron, Easton and I already live in Los Angeles, but we also enjoy our regular sojourns to N.Y.C. To think that now when we go there to live and/or work, my parents will no longer be there holding down the fort through those sweltering summers and brutal winters … I almost can’t accept it. It feels like the end of an era.

Yet we were all thrilled by the news because Ron and I have been on our own without any grandparent assistance since Easton came into the world. It’s been lonely and sad at times not to have family with us. It’s also been hard on us as parents without familial support around.

I’ve certainly talked about that a lot in this blog. Since we don’t have any hired help, we tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to freedom or alone time. With this news at least comes a dinner on our own! I can feel the wind blowing in my hair as I write this, ladies. All I can say is, “Hallelujah!”

Not to mention that it will be very nice (and long overdue) to revisit my childhood with Dad and my stepmom. It’s been forever since we’ve all lived close to each other, and with the incentive of a grandchild, we are bound to make up for all that lost time. Not to mention that I’m thrilled Easton will get to know her aunt and uncle (who is already living in San Diego) even better, due to what will no doubt become ritualistic family time.

My Dad and Easton – Courtesy Elisabeth Röhm

Does it cause me any anxiety to think of my parents moving to town? Perhaps, but it’s certainly outweighed by my excitement over the whole new chapter that lies ahead. My 20-something siblings, on the other hand, might be having their share of anxiety over living near their mom and dad. But truthfully, our parents are pretty cool, young at heart and seekers of fun. I’m sure — even for my younger brother and sister, who just achieved freedom — that they will enjoy the closeness of us all living in the same state.

This new chapter is especially exciting for us siblings who have spent many years apart due to our age difference and the separate households that we grew up in. Now we will have a chance to really spend time together. Easton will be able to see her aunt and uncle regularly, unlike myself who only gets to see my beloved Aunt Lolly a couple of times a year!

It’s going to be the end of an era and the start of what I hope will be an even happier time for my family. I feel truly blessed with this imminent change and as we know, change is good!

Really, it’s Easton that’s going to benefit the most and of course, that’s what really excites me. I watched her over the holiday, absorbing the attention of her grandparents like a sponge. I thought how lucky it is for her that she’ll get to be really close to them over the years, as opposed to seeing them three times a year for holidays, which was what my experience was.

Ours has always been a small and fragmented family, with my mother’s relatives in Tennessee and my father’s in Germany. I was the only child my parents — who divorced when I was 8 — had together, and to top it all off, I went to boarding school at the young age of 14. Thus, reaffirming my experience of family as something shared on holidays only. Boo-hoo.

I have always secretly wished for one of those loud, in-your-face families that have weekly dinners together. And now I’m going to get it! Be careful what you wish for, as they say. Gone are those low maintenance dinners with just Ron, Easton and I. So long to those comfortable little outings as a threesome. Now, all my relatives are moving to town to be close and to not let any more time slip by. I couldn’t be happier!

The idea of our being a clan that can see each other weekly for the first time is oddly a dream come true — even if it does produce a touch of anxiety! I mean, let’s face it, our parents always bring out the regressed teen in all of us that feels they can’t express their true feelings. Not to mention those parents are older, wiser and have done it all before. They are always full of advice, guidance and opinions.

Are we really ready for all that input? Sometimes togetherness can be exhausting, no? Most of us return from the holidays needing a holiday. I always much prefer telling part of the story rather than having to be accountable to my parents all these years later, which is so much easier achieved when you have an entire country between you. I mean, we’ve been doing really well here on our own in California all these years. Or have we? I think not. When it comes down to it, love and family are all that matter.

So as the tryptophan hit our veins, it all seemed like a dream as we talked about our future. With the drowsiness of Thanksgiving dinner enveloping us, we shared in the surrealism of this new chapter for our family come summertime.

For now it almost doesn’t seem real, PEOPLE.com, but I’m getting prepared for the change of a lifetime!

– Elisabeth Röhm

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Showing 26 comments

The Baking Fairy on

I grew up in NE Ohio and both sets of grandparents lived about 25 min. away in Cleveland. I saw them all of the time and spent every holiday with both sides of my family. My mom is one of 6 children and my aunts, uncles, and cousins would drive 4 hours from Detroit to be with us for Thanksgiving, my birthday (early Dec.), Christmas, my grandma’s birthday (Feb.), my grandpa’s birthday (March), and Easter.

If you weren’t counting, that was 6 times a year in a roughly 4 month span. We had glorious get-togethers with card games, board games, singing, and more food than you could shake a stick at. Unwrapping presents at Christmas would take several hours because our family was so large. I LOVED IT and I miss those days so much. All of my grandparents have since passed and my family is lucky to get together now once a year.

I live on the east coast now (central Mass.) with my husband and two daughters. I am 615 miles away from where I grew up, which equates to a 10 hour drive home. My sister ended up in CT so I’m not too far from family but it is very difficult for me that our girls (my sister has a daughter, too) do not get to see my mom as frequently as we saw our grandparents. My mom is a teacher so we can fly her out at the holidays and have her stay a week at a time, which is nice, but she still only sees us about 5 times a year. Thank heavens for Skype to pick up the slack so my daughters can share their lives with my mom on an almost daily basis.

My husband is the youngest of 7 children and 6 of the 7 live right here in Mass. with us. Most only live 45 min. away and my daughters barely know their aunts, uncles, and cousins on their father’s side. We see them maybe once a year. In fact, his sister who lives in Maine just met our youngest daughter at Thanksgiving and she is 2.5 years old.

My husband’s parents come down to our house only twice a year, for the girls’ birthdays. If we want our daughters to see their grandparents, we have to bring them to my in-laws’ house. My father-in-law will spend maybe 5 min. with them before taking my husband aside to talk business.

It breaks my heart that this is their only idea of what a grandfather is. My own father passed away just before my 14th birthday so the girls will never know him. It drives me nuts that my husband’s family is not more involved because it is a huge family and my girls should be having the same awesome holiday experiences that I had but they are not.

So, Elisabeth, I say that it is wonderful that your family will all be close to Easton now and will be better able to partake in all of her life experiences. My grandparents were at every concert, every play, every awards banquet I ever had and I can’t put a price on how valuable their unflinching support of me (and my sister) was. Family, in my opinion, should be more than just mommy, daddy, and the kids.

Melissa Byers on

This is wonderful news, Elisabeth! I stayed in my little Pennsylvania town as long as I had my parents, and I do not regret a moment of it. I got to know them as people as well as parents, and I cannot recommend it enough. And for Easton, it will be a lifetime of wonderful memories. Enjoy!

Jackie Schmoker on

Ever since your blog lamenting not being able to go to the bathroom in peace, I have not missed a single blog of yours!! Thanks for making the rest of us feel normal!!

wearitOWNit.com on

As a single mom without any family support, I know how hard it is to care for a child. I am pleasantly surprised to read that you and your fiance do not have hired help! Easton is very lucky to have such loving and hands-on parents.

Harley on

Wow! That sounds overwhelming to me! Not in a bad way, I know plenty of families like that, heck, my family down South is like that. I’m sure that sounds weird haha, but I grew up as somewhat of a gypsy/military brat/semi-outcast of sorts lol. I don’t know how to do the big family thing; the biggest we get is 8 people during holidays and that’s only within the last few years.

My brother will brave the Southern family holiday get-together, but it scares the hell out of me to be honest lol. Seriously, 40-some odd people is just…frightening to me. I thoroughly enjoy the stories that come out of big families though, they are incredibly entertaining!

Shannon on

Easton is so pretty!

lilly on

You girls are gorgeous! You are right Elisabeth, love and Family are all that matter.

M on

I LOVE having my family nearby. They make my life with four kids so much easier. My husband and I get date nights semi-regularly and I can schedule appointments around my mom’s schedule so I don’t have to take all my children with me. They even sleep over one or two at a time with my mother or grandmother every couple of months while my husband and I clean house and spend time one on one with the children at home.

My mom is my best friend and I would never want to live away from her. I love my inlaws as well, but my husband (one of seven) grew up across the country and his whole family still lives there. He has two brothers who visit once a year or so, his parents come out here two or three times a year, and we try to make it out there once a year. My kids basically have no relationship at all with their aunts, uncles, or cousins, and that makes me sad. I am a big believer in extended families. Congrats on the new help!

heather on

My mom is only and hour and a half away and it feels like the ocean is between us! I miss not being able to hop over to my parents house with my two boys anytime we want to. Hubby and I REALLY miss our special few hours alone every now and then too, lol. Having your family around is a blessing, that is for sure. The more people to love your children the better.

Holiday on

Heather my mom is 2 hours away and I wish she lived closer too! I still see her at least once a week though. My sister lives only a mile away though so I love that!

Katie on

Elisabeth you are beautiful and so is your little Easton! What a doll!

When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I bought the house across from my parents. Now 5 years later, I have a boy and a girl. My children love having my parents so close and so do I! My mom helps out all the time and when my dad’s not working he is over to see the kids. You will love having your family so close and so will Easton. She will bond with your family and have wonderful memories of them. Congratulations!!!! Wishing you the best in 2012 and for all your family. And precious Easton!

Jillian on

Great post!! I love reading them and love the cute pictures.

I am so lucky to live within 30 minutes of all of my siblings, in laws and parents. It’s been great for me, my husband and children to have everyone around us. Having 5 children (including twins) cann keep my hands full, but with our family around someone always wants to visit and spend time with our kids! I love it and you will too. Nothing better than family.

Mary

Katherine on

I’m actually jealous!

My husband has been in the Navy for as long as we have been together (married 8 years last month). When we had our daughter almost 7 years ago, my family was only 5 hours away by car. Even that seemed too great a distance at times. Then when our daughter was not quite 2, we were transferred to Washington State – some 3000 miles from both our families! I have spent the last 5 years with very little help and support, except the occasional hired babysitter and when we could coax friends into taking our daughter (who is actually quite an angel, her behavior isn’t the problem in getting people to watch her) so we could get a quiet dinner or a movie in. And that’s not counting the multiple deployments where I’ve been left alone with our daughter and the Underways (training time at sea). At one point I tried to hold down a job and do this, but it just did NOT work!

So cherish your parents living close – but also be sure that they know the boundaries. It is very important to have good boundaries. My husband and I are now looking forward to moving closer to our families and cherishing family time (and quiet dinners out without the finagling!)

SAR on

Easton looks exactly like her mom!

Karen F. on

Elisabeth,

Right now my husband and I live in Qatar while the rest of our family is in Texas or Louisiana. I have four children and one granddaughter who is almost 8 months old.

I have seen her three times since she was born, but my daughter and I talk on skype almost every day and I am able to see and talk to her. Her other grandparents have seen her a few times more, but they don’t talk to her on Skype as often as I do.

We are coming home for Christmas and I am going to be spending quite a bit of time with her.

Good luck!

Cindy on

I just thoroughly enjoy your blogs :)I really do!!

Having all my family live two hours away I often wonder if I should uproot us and move closer, but like you mentioned…one of those bittersweet things! Although, I think the sweet far outweighs the bitter :)

We also have one daughter and have hit a huge road bump in the plan of having more…so thank you for the title of your latest blog…makes me realize I should probably take a bit of pressure off myself :)

Liz on

Growing up, we would always have Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter at my Pappy’s house. My mom is the oldest of 8 children and it was always a blast to get together with the aunts, uncles and cousins. Once I moved from California to Colorado 8 years ago, I have really missed the family time. We Skype with my parents every Sunday so my daughter knows who Nana and Grandpa are. We are flying to CA for Christmas and my 3 brothers, their spouses and children will all be there and I can’t wait!

Funny thing is, I’m strongly considering only having one child even though I grew up in such a big family. One of my brothers lives here in CO but we aren’t close and see them maybe a couple times a year even though they only are an hour’s drive away. I’m hoping to spend more time with them so my daughter will get to know her uncle, aunt and cousin and maybe we can start doing holidays together when we don’t fly to see my parents. My ultimate wish would be for my parents to move out here since 2 of their 4 kids is out here but they are scared of the snow. I’m still holding out hope!

Congrats on having your family move nearby, quality time with Easton will be so great! :)

Holiday on

Liz have at least one more. Only children grow up to be spoiled and selfish brats who think the world revolves around them. The parents of only children are also a little off normally too and think that their “prince or princess” can do no wrong. Plus moms of onlies are always over bearing and beyond annoying.

Jac on

@ Holiday, Are you kidding me?!?!? I have met plenty of only children that are great individuals and that were great kids. I’m one of 7, btw, not an only child. I have friends with just one child and there isn’t anything wrong with their kids. They seem like normal children, just like the children that do have siblings.

Michelle on

@ Holiday- I am an only child and I take offense to your statement of being spoiled brat or selfish. I am or never was any of those things. My mother was a single parent and worked very hard to provide for me. When I was young a girl, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents because of this. I was practically raised by them. I had discipline, I was taught respect, and I behaved well. My mother eventually got married when I was older but even then I worked for everything that I wanted.

On a different note: I adored my grandparents. We were very close. I moved about 1500 miles away when I was young and I was devastated. I was lucky enough to spend the summers with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins during that time. Sadly my grandparents are gone now but I hold those memories dear to my heart.

Holiday on

Michelle sorry it sounds like you were not that way but it seems like this generation of only kids are beyond spoiled.

Tango on

Hope you have another little munchkin to join Easton!

Cathleen on

I was born in Ireland, and I had six siblings, two parents, many close friends of my parents, all of my grandparents, two great-grand parents, many aunts and uncles, and 30 first cousins all within walking distance of my house in a very small town.

Now I have five children of my own. I was always very thankful for having my family so close when I was younger, but my husband accepted a job offer in London last year and we’ll be here until next December. It seems like I’ve been so far away from my family for such a long time!

I sympathize with your situation prior to your family moving close, but I can promise that you’ll love having your family nearby. My husband, children, and I try to get back to Ireland whenever we can, and we spend Easter and Christmas there, but I can’t wait until we move back, and neither can my husband, whose family is in the same town as mine.

J on

Holiday, this may be true of Elisabeth with all the neurotic complaints, but many many only kids and their parents are quite happy people.

John on

You sound a bit ambivalent to say the least about your family’s move. Of all my grandparents, I only had the chance to meet my maternal grandmother. I saw her only twice before she passed away (my parents were both immigrants and worked full-time in health-care). We would see cousins, aunts, and uncles, once every ten years or more. To make matters worse, we grew up in a rural, remote Southern town with a very homogeneous population, and so our world was an insular existence. Growing up, it was difficult to relate to others. I’d like to believe that having an extended family would have made all the difference.

I’m sure when you look back you will cherish the time, experiences, and memories that you and your daughter would have otherwise missed out on.

Jason D on

My whole family is in England while I emigrated here 8 years ago, my family now encompasses my inlaws only.

I have seen my side of my family only once in 8 years but thankfully for online sites am able to keep connected, a 3500 miles gap is not one that is easily rectified but for someone to be able to emigrate to be with the one they love you have to have come to terms with the distance you will now have between family members.

I’m glad your getting your family close to you now, the gap between me and mine has actually brought us closer, we never really talked when i lived close to them and now we talk almost every day.

Sod’s law, murphys law or just irony but still it seems to work.

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