The best of Ashley Sexton Gordon: Publisher’s letters we’ll never forget

Ashley Sexton Gordon. Photo by Jeannie Frey Rhodes.

In Ashley Sexton Gordon’s 10 years as publisher and editor of inRegister, she built upon the work of her predecessors by making the now-30-year-old publication a must-read month after month. And while her decade-long archive includes stories on every topic under the sun, we can all agree that her monthly Publisher’s Letter columns stand out. These essays elicit laughs, cries and “Thank goodness I’m not alone” moments of relatability.

As Ashley departs for a new adventure, we celebrate her by presenting a few of her columns that we’ll never forget–along with some of the most memorable lines from each. Read on for her working mom wisdom and click the headlines to read the full stories.

Share your favorite Ashley stories in the comments below and read her departing column here.


Protect your front porch.

“Then the air exploded like Dad murdered someone in the front yard, and we might need to help him drag the body inside.

‘That. Was. Not. A. Pellet. Gun.’ she said, eyes boring into me with disbelief. Mom then sprang up off her chair and, on her way to the front, said a couple things her church ladies might not be proud of but would definitely agree with.”


If you fall down, get back up–even if you’re covered in Diet Coke.

“When I got to the gas pump, still inserted in my vehicle, I stepped over the hose. Or I tried to step over the hose. My left foot made it to the other side OK, but my right foot snagged. A blood-curdling scream left my lips as I went down. Hard. Crushed the drink with my right arm, landed on my left knee and face planted. When the middle schoolers—a bit slow, I might add, on the draw—finally found me outside the vehicle, I was drenched in soda, sitting on the fuel-stained concrete with a bleeding foot next to discarded, chewed gum and a cigarette butt.”


Let men have their toys.

“My husband bought a new TV for our master bedroom, and it’s so large I’m forced to rip out the exterior wall behind my headboard, prop a camping chair in my neighbor’s driveway and watch my shows from there. Thanks to a new speaker system, I can also hear an actor whisper from the next lot over.”


Sometimes, it’s OK to make a wrong turn.

“While fishing five dollars out of my wallet, and looking at the long stretch of bridge ahead of me, I realized that I had been failed by my electronic device. And we might miss our flight. And my husband was quietly seething. And the sound of silence was much worse than Simon & Garfunkel ever imagined.”


Betty Crocker doesn’t know everything–and she wasn’t even a real woman.

“After I recovered from this ultimate deception (I don’t even know who to look up to anymore), things—as they always do—started falling into place. For example, on page 299 of this 1969 cookbook, there is a recipe for Hot Dog Casserole. It involves instant mashed potatoes, sweet pickle relish, mayo, mustard and frankfurters. After spooning the mashed potato mixture into a casserole dish, the hot dogs are sliced, then inserted upright around the edges. The description: Hot mashed potato salad and franks—looks like a mock crown roast. There is not a real woman alive who would serve a mock crown roast using hot dogs to people she loved. Not one.”


Extravagance doesn’t make memories. People do.

“My grandfather on my dad’s side, in town from Ruston on account of my birthday, drove up on my mom’s Cadillac, pulled his brown El Camino over onto the shoulder and loaded up my sister, me, and what was left of the Holly Hobby cake. I actually don’t remember the birthday party at all, or what the crumpled cake looked like when placed on paper plates—we didn’t take pictures of our food back then—but I remember feeling an incredible sense of specialness.”


Don’t be afraid to learn lessons the hard way.

“The young girl rounded first base and was headed toward second as I scooped up the ball in right field, threw it as hard as I could and nailed her directly in the temple. Bull’s eye. She dropped like a brick. I immediately realized something was wrong because parents started screaming and running to my teammate—the coach’s daughter, naturally. ‘Why did you do that?’ one woman shrieked at me as I sank to my knees, forehead down on the outfield grass, dark brown pigtails splayed to the sides, tears streaming down my face.


Change your baby before getting on a plane. Oh, and make time for all the other important things, too.

“‘Go to the bathroom and change her,’ he responded. Of course, this solution was completely logical. Meanwhile, I was A27 and my section was boarding.

‘I can’t,’ I said, hoisting her higher on my hip and wrapping her tighter in the blanket. As if that could quell the rising stench. “I don’t have time.”

He looked at me with an intensity used by generals right before battle, put his hand on my shoulder and spit out, ‘Make time.'”


What’s your favorite Ashley Sexton Gordon column? Let us know down below.

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