The Rockwood Files: Letter to my future daughters-in-law and son-in-law

Dear Future Daughters-in-law and Son-in-law, Even though right now you’re just kids and we haven’t even met, I think about you. Sometimes it happens when I notice how tall one of my sons has grown. Sometimes it happens when my daughter says something that makes her sound less like the 8-year-old that she is and more like a young lady. During those moments, I realize that – long before I’m ready – my babies will grow up, move out and start looking for you. I wonder sometimes how you’ll find each other. Will you bump into each other in a college classroom? Will you meet in the company break room of the first real job after college graduation? Will it [...]

How I failed when it was time to make the donuts

One of the great things about being young and broke is that it forces you into new situations. After my second year of college, I decided I was old enough to get my own apartment and stay in my college town instead of going home for the summer. My parents agreed. They also thought that, given my grown-up decision-making ability, I was also grown-up enough to get a summer job and pay my own grown-up rent. So I filled out applications and one of the first places to call me for an interview was a newly opened Wal-Mart Supercenter. Back then, the Supercenter had a few workers who sped around the store on roller skates to make fetching items quicker. [...]

Twas the Day After Christmas

This poem is featured in the book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” which you can find on Amazon. (Available in paperback or Kindle version.) Enjoy! ‘Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house Not a creature was resting, not even a mouse. Crumpled paper and boxes were heaped by the door in hopes that the trash men might take a little more. The children were running and jumping with glee. It was the day after Christmas. They had new toys, you see. And Mom in her sweatshirt she bought at the Gap knew it was highly unlikely the children would nap. When in the guest bathroom there arose such a clatter, we sprang [...]

The Wedding Anniversary Voucher

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 On my wedding anniversary, the man who made vows to love, honor and cherish me all the days of his life called my cell phone. “Hey, honey,” he said. “Are you still at the airport?” “Yeah, and I’m not going to make it home in time for us to go out for dinner tonight,” he said. “Bad weather in Chicago?” I asked. “Not exactly.” “Is something wrong with the plane?” “No, the plane is taking off right now.” “Then why aren’t you going to be here?” “Well, the flight was overbooked. And the flight attendant asked for a volunteer to get off the plane and take a later flight, but no [...]

Worst Case Scenario Syndrome

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 I have a condition many parents suffer from: Worst Case Scenario Syndrome or WCSS. It’s not in the official book of diseases because I just made it up but that doesn’t make it any less real. Make no mistake — it’s real, and I have the freshly sprouted gray hairs to prove it. This sanity-threatening condition reared its paranoid head just last week. When I sat down in my home office to begin the day’s work, I smelled a faint but distinctive smell of something burning. It smelled hot with a hint of a chemical scent, the way an overworked engine might smell just before bursting into flames. I walked around [...]

Fed Up

By Gwen Rockwood During the drive to school this morning, I turned down the radio when another political ad came on. “Ugh! At least today is the last day we’ll have to put up with the ads. It’s election day.” “Stupid voting,” my 12-year-old son mumbled in agreement. “No, it’s not stupid,” I said, realizing that weeks of irritating commercials have caused him to lump voting into the same unappealing category as those repetitive ads. He was about to throw the voting baby out with the advertising bathwater, which has become increasingly dirty these past few weeks. So I tried to explain why it’s important that adults go vote: “Some of the ads are annoying — that’s true — but [...]

On Pins and Needles

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 There are two kinds of people in the world: grown-ups and fraidy-cats who are scared of needles. I’m in that second group. Something happened yesterday that “outed” me with the kids, so now they know that their mother – who they always assumed was a bona fide grown-up – is actually a big ol’ fraidy cat. Our insurance program sent us a couple of “biometric test kits” in the mail, requiring Tom and me to fill out a health questionnaire and submit a blood sample. The kit came with a little needle with which to perform the finger prick and a card that required three drops of blood. Trust me when [...]

Picture This

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 I felt it as soon as I woke up this morning – that familiar pang of dread in the pit of my stomach that can only mean one thing: It’s picture day. Picture day is a huge deal for moms because family photos are the only way we can keep our kids at this age forever – a chance to freeze the magic of this point in their childhood and preserve it. Our family doesn’t have family professional pictures made very often, but when we do, I want it to go well. And because I want it to go well, I get uptight. And because I get uptight, the whole picture [...]

Glory and the Geek

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 I am a geek. Always have been. But now it’s easy – and almost cool – to admit it. Twenty-five years ago? Not so much. Back then, my glasses, braces and clarinet carrying case were all social life liabilities. In the 80s, if you aced a few spelling tests or a teacher praised you for being smart, you found yourself on the fast track to Geeksville, and nobody wanted to be there. But times have changed and now we live in a much more geek-friendly world. Some of our coolest modern-day conveniences wouldn’t exist were it not for the long hours and irrational obsessions nurtured by a few world-changing geeks. The [...]

Procrastination: Shoulda Woulda Coulda

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Like most writers, I have a dance partner whose name is Procrastination. I hate his guts. What a slacker. And yet we keep on dancing. We side-step and disco-delay until I’m up against a wall and have no choice but to kick him out and get down to work. So in an effort to “know my enemy,” I’m reading a book about procrastination. (And yes, I’m fully aware that reading a book about procrastination might just be another way I’m procrastinating doing the actual work. But I’ve already admitted there’s a problem, so give a girl some credit.) I’m about halfway through the book, which is titled The Now Habit, by [...]