The Rockwood Files: Fruity chocolate

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

There’s a big bag of candy on the kitchen counter and no one is eating it. In a house with three kids and a chocolate-loving husband, this is bizarre. Candy and treats usually only last as long as it takes to rip them from their paper wrappers. So why is it still languishing here, three weeks after arrival?

Two reasons. First off, the Easter Bunny overdid it. He shopped for candy when he was hungry and ended up getting enough stuff to put a small country into a sugar coma. You would think the Easter Bunny would have learned this lesson by now, as this is not the first time he’s gone overboard. But I’m not one to blame a bunny for generosity.

The main reason that candy is still here has everything to do with a lack of focus. A couple of days after Easter, I told the kids to take the candy out of their baskets so I could pack the decorations back into the storage closet. I didn’t want the leftover candy to get stale so I put it into a large Ziploc bag to keep it fresh. The bag was brimming with bubble gum, chocolate eggs, Skittles, Starburst, Snickers and jellybeans.

Yesterday I walked by that same bag and noticed that almost none of it had disappeared. So I opened the bag and reached in for one of the small chocolate Hershey’s eggs, figuring it was only right that I should do my part to get rid of the excess treats. I peeled off its shiny foil wrapper, popped it in my mouth and began to chew.

The chocolate was… wrong. The texture was right but the flavor was definitely off. It tasted like… fruit. Because I’d comingled all the leftover candy into one bag, the flavors had somehow comingled, too. Chocolate and Skittles don’t mix and Starburst and Snickers aren’t a good combo, either.

The fruity chocolate wasn’t inedible but it wasn’t good either. I didn’t want another one, and I’m guessing everybody else in the house who had eaten one probably felt the same way. The mixed bag of fruity chocolate and chocolatey Skittles will likely meet its fate in this week’s garbage because it’s too mixed up to be any good.

The fate of the leftover candy has made me think about all the jumbled up activities in my own life. Am I “too mixed up to be any good”? Even though all the things I do are good on their own, I wonder if I sometimes mix too many things into the same jam-packed week or month. Have I lost my sense of focus and the ability to enjoy any one thing because I’m busy trying to do so many things?

Sometimes, in an effort not to “waste” a single opportunity, we cram too much into our lives and end up with a not-so-satisfying chunk of fruity chocolate. The ingredients themselves are good but not when they’re mashed together.

With each passing month, I’m realizing that what I want and need most is time to focus. I want a schedule that lets me be good at one or two things instead of “just okay” at too many things. Sometimes all the “busy” of life crosses the line from blessing into burden and it’s hard to know when to pull back. But I hope I figure it out.

Because life is too short to settle for fruity chocolate.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen 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. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.