The Rockwood Files: Why I can’t renew my driver’s license yet

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

By this time next week, I’ll be 39. The actual age doesn’t bother me much but the number is downright embarrassing.

Thirty-nine sounds like it’s desperately clinging to its sense of youth. It’s slowly circling the mid-life drain, trying not to get sucked in. As far as numbers go, I’d say 41 sounds better than 39. Forty-one is at the beginning of a new journey while 39 is the last pathetic guest to leave the party.

The number 40 has its own baggage. Every time I hear it, I visualize a bouquet of black balloons and gag gifts that stopped being hilarious 40 years ago. I’ve got a whole year left before I tackle the infamous 40.

But before I turn 39, there’s one important thing I have to do. My driver’s license is about to expire and I need to renew it by my birthday. But there’s a problem keeping me from standing in line at the DMV.

It’s a pimple. A big one. Right in the middle of my forehead, staring out at people like the proverbial third eye. Yesterday morning, my 7-year-old rounded the corner, looked up at me with shock and concern and said, “Mom! What happened to your head?” as if I’d run forehead-first into a hay thrasher.

Since 7-year-olds are known for their brutal honesty, I refuse to get my new driver’s license photo made while this angry beast is camped out on my forehead.

It seems ironic that I – a woman about to turn 39 – suddenly has the complexion of a 14-year-old. If I have to endure the spotty skin of a teenager, shouldn’t I also get the young, toned teenage body to go with it? It’s only fair, right?

But if the past 39 years have taught me anything, it’s that aging isn’t always fair. It likes to play tricks on us, mainly by deluding us into thinking we’re not as old as we really are. If you asked my mind how old it is right now, it would swear I’m not a day over 27. Isn’t 27 a great number? It’s old enough to be taken seriously and young enough to be cool, cute and clever.

Sometimes my inner 27-year-old gets jolted back to reality. The other day, someone asked me how long I’ve been writing this newspaper column. After doing a little mental math, I calculated the answer: “Sixteen years,” I replied, genuinely surprised by the number. And since I’m quite sure I didn’t start writing the column when I was 11-years-old, my inner 27-year-old realized she’s a lot older than she’d like to think.

But I suppose turning 39 really isn’t all that bad. One of the perks of getting older is the ability to not get all worked up about every little thing. To be thankful for a less-than-perfect body that can get up in the morning and carry me through the day. One that can still play hoops in the driveway with the kids and run around with the new puppy in the yard.

And being 39 means I’m able to afford many different brands of over-the-counter pimple cream or an emergency trip to the dermatologist’s office, if this mountain rising up on my forehead doesn’t disappear soon.

If the pimple isn’t gone by my birthday, I’ll have to go to the DMV office wearing my bangs over it like a curtain, which means my new driver’s license photo will feature a middle-aged woman with the haircut of a fourth grader. Wonderful. Can’t wait to show that one off.

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.