The Rockwood Files: One Decade Later

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

I just had a very, very big birthday. And I’ll be the first to admit that it’s freaking me out. My firstborn just turned 10. As in 10-years-old. Double digits. This is huge.

Staring my own middle age in the face doesn’t seem nearly as tough as knowing that the snuggly baby who used to sleep on my shoulder has marked his first decade of life. How did this happen?

I know it sounds cliché but it really does seem like we were videotaping his first few wobbly steps just a few years ago. And now it feels like he’s sprinting away from me, determined to grow up and chase his own adventures.

Last night at the kids’ bedtime, I watched Adam walk away from me, down the hallway toward his room. He was wearing pajama bottoms but no shirt. And suddenly I got this pang of sadness way down deep in my gut because I realized he doesn’t look much like a little kid anymore. He’s somewhere between kid and lean, gangly teenager, and it’s becoming clear that he’s picking up speed on this onramp to full-fledged adolescence.

One of the only things that hasn’t changed about him during these past 10 years is his sleepwalking. He did it back when he was still wearing footed pajamas and he does it now. But these days, if he sleepwalks to our bed in the middle of the night, I can’t just scoop him up like a sack of potatoes, the way I did when he was 3. I’m pretty sure they don’t make a 70-pound sack of potatoes.

When Tom and I try to pick him up and move him, he’s all legs and arms and elbows pointing out in every direction, and one of us will likely throw out our back one of these nights trying to prove to ourselves that he’s still our baby.

One of the things bothering Tom most about this 10-year-mark is knowing that, in just six years, Adam will be driving. Not a scooter, not a bicycle. A two-ton car capable of high rates of speed. I shudder a little even typing those words.

But the thing that gets me most – the thing that makes the tears well up in my eyes and my throat constrict – is knowing that the 18 years we’ll have him at home is more than half over. And if the first 10 years went this quickly, I can only imagine that the next eight will also fly.

Despite all the parental angst, I do understand the thrill this new phase of life brings with it. A decade ago I was worrying about colic, croup and if he’d start crawling when all the baby books said he should.

Today that same person is making his own bologna and cheese sandwiches. He’s kind, polite and funny. He’s a voracious reader whose constant quest to know more makes us proud. We marvel at the person he’s becoming and feel lucky to watch his evolution.

So happy birthday, my boy. If you see my eyes get watery when you blow out your candles, just know that it’s not because I’m sad. It’s because I’m sad, happy, proud, scared, amazed and nervous all at the same time. None of it makes any sense to you, I know. But it will one day – when your firstborn turns 10.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.