The Rockwood Files: How Spring Break nearly broke me

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

The world that exists inside your own head is a much kinder, gentler world than the one outside. I know this because, inside my head, I’m younger, I’m better looking and I’m physically and mentally tough. Outside my head? Not so much. What happened this week has made that much painfully clear.

Yesterday was the first day of our kids’ week-long Spring break from school. The sun was shining, the temperatures were rising and I was determined to get us all out of the house to embrace the day.

So we laced up our tennis shoes, strapped on our bike helmets and headed toward the closest bike trail. The first few minutes of the bike ride were lovely. The sun and breeze on my face made me feel like it was only yesterday that I was an 8-year-old girl racing up and down the street on my Pink Panther bicycle. It had hot pink streamers on the handles and a picture of the panther himself on the seat, and I was convinced it was the coolest, fastest bike in the world.

The bike I have now is not nearly as cool as that one. In fact, I’m pretty sure my bike has some kind of defect because – when it was time to pedal up the first big hill on our street – my bike wanted to give up, go home and watch reruns of Shark Tank. (If you have any doubts about whether or not you’re in good physical shape, try to ride a bike up a hill. Once you’re about 30% of the way up the hill, the verdict will be clear.)

I’ll admit I had to walk the bike up the steepest part of the hill, but I told the kids that it was only because I’d failed to build up enough speed before I attempted it. Next time, I’ll make it to the top with no problem, I said. But they didn’t hear me because they’d already zoomed ahead of me on their much faster bikes powered by their much younger legs.

Lucky for me, Tom was bringing up the rear of our five-person bicycle gang and he sympathized with my struggle. He told me that, once we reached the bike trail, the hills wouldn’t be so bad. And he was right. The slopes were gentle and the whole experience was perfect right up until I started to notice that the seat on my bicycle might just be the worst thing ever manufactured. I’m convinced it could be used as some sort of torture device to get criminals to confess. Sitting on a bear trap would have been more comfortable.

You know that common phrase “a pain in the butt”? The first person who ever uttered those five words was undoubtedly sitting on my bike when she said it.

I tried shifting into a different position and even pedaling while standing up, but nothing seemed to help. By the end of our 6-mile ride, I was sure I might never sit again. Even as I type these words, I’m standing at the kitchen counter with my laptop because I can’t sit down again until the ibuprofen kicks in.

So for today’s Spring Break adventure, we’re going to go play miniature golf because, inside my head, I’m a very good golfer who’s also young, good-looking and can ride a bike up a steep hill at breakneck speed. (And as an added bonus, mini-golf requires no sitting whatsoever.)

Here’s hoping these first few days of warmer weather have been kind to you. Because over at my house, Spring Break is reminding me that I’m no spring chicken.

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.