The Lost Art of Ironing

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Does anybody still iron these days? Some of my earliest memories are of my mom (seemingly) spending HOURS ironing all my dad’s work clothes.  AND all the linens, kids clothes, etc.  Even Dad’s underwear! She had it down to an art form and the clothes looked (and felt) great. But in my head I always thought “there has got to be an easier way.” Because, let’s be honest, I was lazy.


Look, Mom, I'm ironing!

So eventually I got old enough that Mom expected me to take on the ironing of my own clothes. Aw, man, I was so bummed when this happened. I put that noggin to work and developed some shortcuts.  Layering was cool in the 80’s, so my reasoning was that if only the collar was going to show then why bother ironing the whole shirt? Ditto with the arms. This did not go over well with Mom so the trick was to avoid getting caught. Like not taking that top layer off in front of her even if it was way too hot. Some days I’d just go out in wrinkles and that was an even worse offense. I could never convince her it was the style. Nor did she buy my argument that ironing less meant I was less likely to burn myself as both my mom and grandma had at some point. C’mon, this was a valid point, they both have scars to this day.

Fortunately, I married a man who thought all that ironing was a waste of a woman’s time when you could find a dry cleaner to do it for a reasonable amount of money or simply fluff in the dryer. He told me I’d never have to iron for him and mostly I don’t. How’s that for romantic?   

Flash forward to a couple of years ago when we were visiting my parent’s house and Mom had the ironing board out (just like old times). My son gave that iron a quizzical look (Don’t say it, kid!) and asked “Grandma, what is THAT?” My mom gave me that look of disapproval and all I could do was shrug my shoulders at her. For a moment I was back to being a little girl who was embarrassed that I had displeased my mommy. So now I try to break out the iron at least every few months because there are still a few items that need ironing. And, you know, so my son will at least be aware that it exists.  Here’s my tip for you: avoid linen whenever possible.  It may look cute on the rack but, seriously, you just look at this material and it needs to be ironed again! Take advantage of anti-wrinkle clothing instead. Gotta love technology sometimes.

The Librarian

4 Responses

  1. When I was a little girl, my mother used to pay me to iron Daddy’s shirts. I took it very seriously, even making little bills which I presented to her. I charged 10 cents for a short sleeved shirt, and 15 cents for long sleeves. I thought I was very enterprising. Now, I realize that it was my smart Mama’s way of getting me to take over her most dreaded household task!

  2. It must’ve been their generation, my mom was the same way. What was worse is I went to private school, which meant I had those white uniform blouses and plaid skirts. I remember every Sunday night having to spend what seemed like hours ironing all my uniforms for the week. I sure am glad the men of our generation don’t expect us to be the same. I laughed out loud at your sons reaction, come to think of it, I don’t think my son would know what an iron is either!!

  3. Sounds like my mom. Not only did we iron clothes, but also the bedsheets. I spent hours ironing my clothes when I was younger and in Russia but it’s been a while since I last did it. Even my mom has eased up off the iron now that we’ve been in the States for over 17 years. I don’t think my daugher has seen an iron even once in her life (and she’s almost 2).

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