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Marla Sokoloff’s Blog: Mastering the Art of Letting Go

06/30/2014 at 09:00 AM ET

A warm welcome back to our celebrity blogger Marla Sokoloff!

Since audiences first got to know her at age 12 as Gia on Full House, Sokoloff has had many memorable TV roles — Jody on Party of Five, Lucy on The Practice, Claire onDesperate Housewives — as well as turns on the big screen in Whatever It TakesDude, Where’s My Car? and Sugar & Spice.

Sokoloff, 33, most recently played Dani on ABC Family’s The Fosters

She wed her husband, music composer Alec Puro, in November 2009 and the couple — plus pup Coco Puro — make their home in Los Angeles.

You can find Sokoloff, now mom to 2-year-old daughter Elliotte Anneon Twitter and Instagram.

Marla Sokoloff Blog First trip to Disneyland! – Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

My daughter’s life is moving fast — like, blink-and-you-will-miss-it-all speed. It’s moving at such a rapid pace, it’s starting to really bum me out. Some days I want to hit the pause button and just hold on to her like this forever.

Her baby days are long gone and honestly, sometimes I see more of a big kid than a toddler. We now have full on conversations where we talk about princesses (Rapunzel is the current favorite — sorry Ariel!) and discuss the day’s events (most likely the park, eating grilled cheese and playing with said Princesses.)

She’s strong, stubborn, outgoing and doesn’t take nonsense from anyone. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve never met a funnier little lady in my life. Feel free to chalk that last statement up to unabashed favoritism.

Marla Sokoloff Blog Princess life – Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

She can feed herself, pretty much bathe herself (supervised of course!) and enjoys having her alone time (or as Elliotte likes to tell me, “Mom, I’m having a moment“) while reading books and playing in her room. Of course I realize that this self-sufficiency and enviable confidence is a good thing. It means that I have guided her in the right direction so far, and I’m not messing this mom thing up as bad as I thought!

But, a few weeks ago a major shift occurred in our home. Elliotte will no longer let Mommy leave the house or even take a shower without a serious meltdown. Twenty-eight months in, and we are deep in the throws of separation anxiety.

Most outings sans Elliotte end with her clinging to my leg and wailing like I’ve never heard before. Nothing pains me more than to have her ripped off of me so I can go to work. Or even just to go to the gym! I get in my car and hold back tears whilst feeling like the worst mom ever. (For more on how I feel about the ever present Mommy Guilt read this.)

When Elliotte turned 2 in February, she graduated to the big girl ballet class. That means, parents are no longer allowed in the room so that the teacher (the wonderful and ridiculously patient, Miss Kelly) can have the students’s full attention.

We get to (have to?) watch outside through a two-way mirror. My little ballerina danced into that room, waved goodbye, and plied away without skipping a beat. I was completely blown away by how easy it was for her. Moments later, she stripped down naked for the class because her tutu was “itchy,” but that’s a story for another day.

Last week in ballet, there were tears. Many tears. She wanted Mommy. No part of her wanted ballet. It was heartbreaking. We immediately left ballet and had a good cry over some frozen yogurt instead.

Marla Sokoloff Blog Out of PJs! – Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

In July, my little girl will be starting preschool. Yes, preschool. I can barely even think about being away from her while she colors, paints, and frolics with other children while I sit in my car and clock watch through tears. (Yes I’m an actress, but this is truth not drama.)

With this newfound anxiety — coming from both of us at this point — I can’t help but wonder if she’s ready for this major shift in her life.

With every milestone we reach I feel this intense mix of joy and satisfaction with a very strong dose of sadness. I will never change Elliotte’s diaper again. I may change another child’s diaper, but not Elliotte’s and that, as it turns out, is a very tough pill for me to swallow.

We are both very slowly learning the process of separating from each other, and with each day my heart aches more and more.

I guess I’m just now starting to realize that as soon as Elliotte was born, I began learning the art of letting go.

I let go of the newborn Elliotte. I let go of the breastfeeding Elliotte. I let go of the bottle-drinking Elliotte. I let go of the crawling Elliotte. I let go of the baby Elliotte. I let go of the 1-year-old Elliotte. I let go of the diaper-wearing Elliotte.

One day I will need to let go of the living-at-home Elliotte. (Insert sounds of fear and dread here!)

There are so many Elliottes that I will need to learn to let go of … the very thought of her growing up and leaving the nest simply leaves a lump in my throat.

Marla Sokoloff Blog Beginning of summer fun – Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

Being a parent has so many levels of emotions, I can’t believe how these growing pains make me feel.

Parents, weigh in on this: How do you/did you deal with separating from your children? And did your child have a hard time separating from you?

If you have any helpful tips with separation anxiety and getting through it, I want to hear from you! I know these next few months are going to be tough on both of us and your tips are always so helpful.

I know I’m not alone in feeling completely schizophrenic when it comes to these nuggets growing. One part of me is so proud of her for growing up into this precious little lady and the other part almost relishes her still needing me.

I wanted to end this blog by telling you about an amazing organization that has the ability to change many children’s lives. Milk & Bookies is a nationwide non-profit organization that has a mission to get books to children who don’t have any as well as exposing children to how incredible reading can be!

Elliotte and I attended an event for Milk & Bookies in May and had such a wonderful time—we are really excited to share this awesome cause with you all.

You can even host your very own Milk & Bookies party! For more information please check out: milkandbookies.org.

Marla Sokoloff Blog Milk and Bookies event – Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

Leave a comment below or find me on twitter @marlasok.

xo,

– Marla Sokoloff

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Showing 21 comments

blessedwithboys on

She’s too young for preschool. Not being apart from a 2yo nanny is what is normal. Let the separation happen on her schedule.

This is why bf’ing a toddler is so important. It meets the need for closeness and allows them to separate more easily BC they have no doubt of their connection with mommy. If your not gonna nurse your baby as long as they need it, why on earth would they not still have a bottle at age 2?!

Gwen on

My almost 3 year old will be starting preschool in the fall as well, and it’s terrifying!!! He has a severe speech delay so as a part of our school systems early intervention he has to start early so he can get speech therapy there, as well as some socialization skills. I want to keep him at home, in my arms where it’s safe forever.

I don’t think there is a good answer as to how to let go. My plan……sitting in my car, balling my eyes out, waiting for the very short class to end while feeling terrified that my son thinks I abandoned him, no longer love him, and imagining every possible scary bully/bad teacher out come. Xanax here I come!!

shannon on

Both of my kids started preschool at 3 yrs old and neither had an issue with leaving me. They took a bus to get there and both got on the bus, waved to me and were gone! No issues. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing…lol! My daughter is 8 now and has gone on sleepovers and Girl Scout camp for a weekend. My son is starting middle school and he has some anxiety about a new school but is still excited about going.

Once your daughter sees all the fun stuff she’s going to be doing and all the new playmates, she will be excited about going. Maybe you can start practicing now with her? Is there a fun place with kids and activities and hang back a little (still supervise just not be attached to her) or maybe take her to where she’s going to be going and hang back and let her explore on her own?

She is getting older, but a lot of fun stuff is still to come!

And blessedwithboys…why are you judging her? Everyone has the right to parent THEIR kids THEIR way! You do what you feel is best for your kids and the rest of us will do what we feel is best!

Why do people feel that they can tell other people how to raise their kids?

Cortney on

2 year olds do not need bottles because its bad for their teeth but go ahead and spend thousands of dollars on your kids dental bills so you can feel more attached to a kid instead of you know talking to them developing hobbies and whatever else two year olds are actually supposed to be doing. I for one think the kids are having melt downs because they can sense it from you and are feeding off of it. Get a plan together that you know that you need your ‘moments’ too and keep yourself together and let them know where you will be and when you will be back so there is no need to panic..

Amanda on

My daughter has gotten better about separating from me, and while that is a “good thing”, it stinks emotionally to know that time is already upon us. She is going to be starting kindergarten next fall and I just want to cry at the thought of it. Emotionally, I am with you on this blog!

I love who my daughter is becoming (she is awesome!), but I wish she could just slow down a little bit. When you wrote about never having firsts again with your daughter, it perfectly summed up what I’ve been saying. I don’t know if I’ll have anymore, but even if I do, it wont be her and that’s the hard part. I just love her so much!

Erin on

blessedwithboys, 29 months old is NOT too young for preschool, and toddlers should not drink from a bottle at that age because of the real risk of dental issues. I don’t even have kids of my own and I know that…

Corinne on

@blessedwithboys You really shouldn’t try to make other mothers feel guilty for not breastfeeding. She stated she breastfed in the article and 2 year olds should NEVER still have the bottle or risk having bottle tooth decay. You should start weaning them off the bottle to a sippy cup at about 1 year of age. Even if they’re still breastfeeding at 1, they should have juice/water via sippy cup even if it’s just as a teaching tool.

Mommytoane on

Cute bathing suit! I love it. Too bad as they get older the suits get skimpier. No suggestions from me, other than to love on your girl as much as you can. They grow fast.

ITA Corinne, Blessedwithboys is out of line. My daughter was bottle fed for various reasons and she’s perfect imo. She’s the smartest kid in her class, she is rarely sick and we did not have any seperation issues with her at all. Some kids are just clingier, some aren’t. Bottle feeding still gives that wonderful cuddle time. Its not as if we just hand our babies bottles and say “Oh have fun” we actually cuddle and read and love on our babies while they use their bottle. Bottles aren’t suggested as an older child, but there isn’t anything wrong with it. Some just take to the cup easier than others. Blessed needs to take a step back and remember she’s not perfect, and that judgements are out of line.

Gracie on

What a beautiful little girl!! I always love reading this blog.

joan on

bottles at 2? are you serious?

joan on

kids can have separation anxiety at any age. My youngest had it at 2 1/2 when she started pre school. Her older sister was at the same school and was 4. Both had some separation anxiety..sometimes it was real, sometimes it was for sympathy. But you establish a routine, and kids learn how to cope. My youngest needed to be holding teacher’s hand. Every kid is different. But preschool or playgroup, or mom’s day out is important so kids can learn how to play with one another, and socialize. then come home and cuddle and play and talk with mom and dad. Every kid is different. IF she is good with it, and you are good with it, then all is good.

lovely123 on

Let’s be honest ladies, two and three year olds do not attend “pre-school”. It is called CHILD CARE!!!

Anonymous on

” I let go of the bottle-drinking Elliotte”. She is saying her daughter no longer drinks from a bottle. Not that she still has a bottle.

Raini on

I try to explain everything ahead of time. If we are going to “school” I let them know in the morning that we’re going to school that day. I tell them what my expectiations are, nice hands, listening to their teacher, etc. So far it seems to be working well for my 3 yr old, my 18 mo old still clings to me like a spider monkey though. LOL Good luck and don’t listen to all the haters on here, some are not being nice.

4mom on

The youngest of my four had severe separation anxiety from about 18 months until he was 2 1/2 or so. He would scream and shake and cry. I hated it. I also knew he wouldn’t be scarred for life when I did leave him. I just stayed with him when I could but when I had to leave him to work I found the routine made it easier for him. Maybe as she starts school the daily routine and familiarity will make it easier for her.

I say you do whatever works for you and your family. After four with completely different personalities and quirks, I try not to judge anything parents do to make it all work. Good luck and remember, this too shall pass.

Abby on

Hi Marla,

I am a 31 year old woman living alone in Brooklyn running my own successful business. I was exactly like your daughter when I was a kid, and I remember exactly what it feels like, what she is feeling. Every time my mom left it felt like what we adults feel when we go through a breakup: powerful all consuming grief and loss. It doesn’t matter that I knew my mom would be back in an hour, my mom still had to pull me out of ballet at the same age for the same reason.

What my parents did is made me feel ashamed of my feelings. Not only was I then in excutiating pain from being separated, but I also hated myself, at 3 and all the way up until I was 7 when the separation anxiety got better. What u can recommend is make sure her feelings are validated and she feels she can safely emote to you and that you give her sympathy. Talk to her when she is calm about what it feels like when mommy leaves and why she feels that way. Build a prize oriented chart and for every minute alone she gets a gold star. For ten minutes she gets a nice cream, for half an hour a new movie etc. (or come up with a similar model… Stickers work well. Display the chart somewhere in the home so she can be proud of her achievements. Tell her how much you miss her and maybe make a similar chart for yourself so she feels that she is not alone and that the sadness and anxiety us shared equally by you two. She should feel like you are partners in an exciting project to overcome the anxiety with big rewards. She should also never ever feel shame and always love herself n be proud of herself even when she is too sad or scared to leave you. I hope this helps. Good luck and feel free to contact me, I have many vivid memories of what it feels like to be the child in the situation.

Abby

angie on

Great blog and well written on sharing her feelings.

overly on

I happen to agree…why do people have children when all they want to do is put them into an organized institution, call it preschool or child care, rather than raise the child themselves. Children are in the education system until at least 18, what is the rush? Why don’t mothers want to be mothers anymore? I am sure in this situation she can afford to be with her daughter. So terribly selfish.

lovely123 on

Overly,

You called it well. There is a neighbor of mine, they had a child 5 months ago. The husband is gone 8a-5p, and the mother is gone from 8a-7p. They have a nanny that stays with the baby for the entire time. Sad to think that your work/home is more important than your FRESH AND BLOOD. I don’t care what people think, but they have a nice house, two really nice new cars, but don’t have time for their newborn. SAD!

Aden on

She is sooo cute! My 2 year old is in full on mommy mode right now too – tough stuff! I’m impressed she’s already out of diapers – that is def on the early side.

Anonymous on

Marla is not alone to have separation anxiety, many women have same anxieties but in different degree. It depends on how they interpret about let it go.

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