Bracing myself for orthodontic reality

This week, after taking the second of my three kids to a consultation appointment at the orthodontist’s office, I saw the reality of our situation in black, white and shades of grey when the doctor put two x-rays on the computer screen side by side. One showed an x-ray from a year ago which the doctor said looked pretty normal. The x-ray next to it was the one he’d just taken and it was…a dental disaster. It looked like a cluster of bumper cars all pointing in different directions. The orthodontist pointed at two impacted teeth that had somehow taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque and were now headed in the opposite direction. They’d need to be re-routed first with [...]

Too much and not enough

It happened again yesterday. I went to the store for “just a few things.” An hour and more than a hundred dollars later, I pushed an overly full shopping cart out of the store and stuffed more than a dozen bags into the back of my SUV. As I drove home, I went through a mental checklist of all the things I’d bought: Milk, bread, cereal, lunch meat, laundry detergent. Check, check, check. I had all the essentials plus lots of other things that seemed necessary when I’d cruised through the aisles. But then a maddening question popped into my head: “How is it possible that I have a car full of groceries and still have no idea what to [...]

Why I Don’t Like January

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Even though there’s something comforting about getting back into a normal routine after a hectic holiday period, I don’t like January. It’s the one month of the year that puts me on edge and gives me performance anxiety. My mother once gave me some valuable advice about carpet that also applies nicely to the month of January. She said, “Never buy white carpet.” When I was younger, I liked the idea of white or cream-colored carpet, mostly because it was so different than the dark brown color I’d grown up with. White carpet made rooms look bright and expansive. Fancy luxury hotels had white carpet, and magazine layouts of million-dollar rooms [...]

South Meets North

It pains me to say this, but it’s true: The people who live up North are tougher. There, I said it. It’s hard to admit because my husband Tom grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, and I was born and raised in the South. And we Southerners aren’t wimps. Not at all. I grew up in Southern Arkansas where mosquitoes are roughly the size of single engine planes. They travel in swarms, flashing gang colors and building empires in flooded rice fields. Until recently, I assumed Southerners and Northerners were equally tough. But I’ve just returned from two separate trips up North, and the evidence is overwhelming. Our first trip took us to Fargo for a family wedding. It was my [...]

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 [...]

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa, I’ll keep this short because I know you’re busy this week — so many things to do, places to go and people to delight. I don’t know how you do it all. I imagine that just managing the naughty and nice lists must be a full-time job, especially with all those Kardashians running around. Even though your job is a big one, I’ve always imagined you as a perfectly happy, serene type of guy. In picture books and paintings, you never look frazzled or overwhelmed. Never distracted or discouraged by the daunting task before you. You’re never seen guzzling a Red Bull or doing shots of espresso. So I’ve been wondering how you can be so calm and [...]

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 [...]

Moms, Managers and the Holidays

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 About this time of year, I sympathize with store managers. Although I’ve never worked in retail during the holiday rush, I have worked as a mother for nearly 13 years now. Moms and managers need the same skill sets to survive the weeks leading up to Christmas. Crowd control: From now until the last after-Christmas sale ends, store managers have to deal with lots of extra people — many of whom act like hyperactive children when they’re drunk on deep discounts and high on the possibility of getting the last copy of this year’s must-have video game. Moms also understand what it’s like when the house is full of extra people. [...]

True story of an aspiring somebody

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 I got my first real job 19 years ago by replying to a classified ad that asked for resumes from “aspiring journalists.” Fresh out of college with an English degree and absolutely no idea what to do with it, I didn’t know if I was qualified to be a journalist. But I did know I was “aspiring” for something — even though I wasn’t clear on what. So I took my resume down to the newspaper office and dropped it off. A few days later, I got a call from the executive editor, which made me feel fancy and grown-up. I put on a dress I imagined a business woman might [...]

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 [...]