The Rockwood Files: Big Bad Mama

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

At some point, we all have to accept that there are some things we don’t do well. New mothers typically try to be Supermom for a while. I did. But then we realize it’s impossible, hang up our capes, and settle for doing a good job at the things that matter most. We focus our efforts in the areas where we have the most skill.

But, sometimes, one of the deficits rears its ugly head. Yesterday, I emptied my 7-year-old’s backpack and scanned through the school papers inside. One of them was a reminder about the school’s Fairy Tale Ball at the end of the week. “Don’t forget your costume,” the note read.

“Costume?” I said, aloud. “Adam, do you need a costume for Friday?”

“Yeah. I’m going to be the Big Bad Wolf,” he replied, in a confident tone that indicated he was certain his mother had not forgotten all about the Fairy Tale Ball and his need to dress up like a fairy tale character.

“Okay,” I said, my mind racing around town wondering where I might find a Big Bad Wolf costume when Halloween was still five months away.

“Are you sure you don’t want to be Jack from ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,’” I asked, knowing that costume would be more open to interpretation and easier to pull off in three days time.

“No, Mom. I’m going to be the Big Bad Wolf because he huffs and he puffs, remember?” he asked, exasperated that I wouldn’t realize how much cooler a wolf is than a mere beanstalk-climbing boy.

“Oh, I see,” I said.

What my son doesn’t know is that his mother is useless when it comes to costumes. I don’t sew. I don’t even own a hot glue gun, mostly because I’m certain it would end with me going to the ER to have my fingers surgically separated from one another. And despite sewing lessons my mother forced me to take as a teenager, I never quite got the hang of it.

Mom convinced Ms. Lucille, who went to our church, into giving me lessons once a week at her house, hoping I’d turn into the seamstress she never was. She said she had always regretted not learning to sew and she didn’t want me to end up feeling the same way one day.

So I went to the lessons, but it just wasn’t my thing. After several weeks bent over a sewing machine at Ms. Lucille’s kitchen table, all I had to show for it was a bath towel with a patch of Velcro sloppily sewn onto it – a bath wrap, we called it. I also had a red jumper with navy blue buttons, but the truth was that Ms. Lucille ended up doing 98 percent of the work and let me take credit for it. I think it was just too frustrating for her to watch me fumble around at something that came so naturally to her.

This week I’m wishing I’d paid more attention to those sewing lessons. If I had just been a better student at Ms. Lucille’s house, I wouldn’t be in this dilemma right now. I’d just pop over to a fabric store, collect the necessary supplies, and I’d whip out an original Big Bad Wolf costume in no time. But I can’t do it. Wouldn’t even know where to begin. So I did what I know how to do – I “googled” it.

I typed the words “Big Bad Wolf costume” into the search engine and prayed the results would go my way. The Internet can be a wonderful thing sometimes. I found a great wolf outfit from a company in West Virginia. Within minutes, I was on the phone with them, but they couldn’t get it here before the Fairy Tale Ball. Back to the computer keyboard I went. There was one more affordable Big Bad Wolf mask. I ordered it as fast as my fingers could type. But there was no guarantee it would make it on time. Sure, I could have ordered the expedited shipping but that would have cost more than twice what the mask itself cost, which would have made my husband do his own version of huffing and puffing once he saw the bill.

So I wrote an e-mail to the manufacturer and asked – pleaded – that they ship the Big Bad Wolf costume to me as quickly as humanly possible. I signed it “The Big Bad Mama who Forgot the Fairy Tale Ball.” The shipping manager saw my note, was amused, took pity on me, and the mask is on its way even as I type.

So I’m no June Cleaver. I hardly cook. I don’t sew. But give me a computer and a deadline, and I’ll deliver every time. One of these days, when my kids need someone to edit their essays for college applications, they’re going to be really glad their mother was a geeky English major.

Want to read previous installments of The Rockwood Files? Click HERE!



  1. Awesome, Gwen! That was great thinking!
    And I feel your pain, too. I got off much easier, though, because Mojo agreed to be Jack from Jack and Jill for his preschool Fairy Tale parade this year. An Ace bandage around his head, a bucket and a few other accessories and he was good to go.
    I applaud your ingenuity!

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