The Rockwood Files: Three Birthdays

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Here in the Rockwood house, we celebrate three birthdays during the month of December. We didn’t plan it that way. It’s just the way it turned out, which adds an additional layer of party and present planning on top of what is already a month crammed full of holiday hoopla.

Birthday Number 3:

Our youngest kid, Kate, is turning 11 this month, and that’s a good thing because 11 is a great age. Most 11-year-olds are more sweet than snarky. They’re still one year away from 12, which (in my experience) is the age when kids start the heavy eye-rolling as a response to questions. Age 12 is also when they begin to smell like teenagers and talk in memes. It’s a confusing time for everyone involved.

But we don’t have to worry about that just yet because we’re still in the land of 11, where unicorns are cool and rainbows are plentiful. We’re going to go roller skating and eat pizza and birthday cake to celebrate.

Birthday Number 2:

Kate’s oldest brother Adam just turned 16. Sixteen! Can you believe it? How is it possible that it has been 16 years since I sat at this very desk and wrote a column to tell you, my kind readers, that I was expecting our first baby? And yet, here he is – sixteen years old, taller than me and able to operate heavy machinery.

The good news about our 16-year-old is that he’s only mildly interested in driving. Even though he has attended a drivers’ education class and is good behind the wheel, he’s not begging for car keys so he can hit the open road by himself. Apparently, his generation is not as eager to drive because they’re content with surfing the Web versus cruising down Main Street, as I did at his age.

Back in my day – a phrase which automatically aged me by 10 years as soon as I typed it – we had to actually leave the house to see our friends and make fun of our parents. For today’s teens, those two things are only a Snapchat or a Facetime away and can be accomplished without even leaving the sofa.

I’m grateful, however, that his indifference will give us a few more months of supervised driving practice before we turn him loose with a license in hand. Maybe by then, I’ll figure out how to hide the sense of panic I feel every time I imagine him driving away from the house alone.

Birthday Number 1:

The most important birthday of the month is the one that’s so significant, it divided the Earth’s timeline into “before” and “after.” It’s the one the angels sang about, the one that brought “joy to the world” – the one we celebrate on Christmas Day.

For our family and plenty of others, it’s the one birthday that changes everything because it offers hope. And our world certainly needs hope now more than ever.

Even if you set aside this year’s drastic decline in political civility and decency, 2017 has been jarring in so many ways – fires, floods, hurricanes, hate rallies, and mass shootings that took our breath away. The sheer size of the raw grief that exists in the aftermath is staggering.

The story of Christmas shows how things can turn around, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. It symbolizes a light that shows the way through darkness. It’s about hope – hope for healing, hope for our children’s future, hope for peace. I pray for the blessing of hope for any of you who may have suffered hard times this year. And I pray we all cherish hope in the coming year.

From my family to yours, we wish you a Christmas full of love.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of You can read more of Gwen’s work by clicking here to visit The Rockwood Files.