Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Art of Ironing

I have this memory of lying on the floor near or even part way under the ironing board on afternoons when my mom was ironing.  She was watching Guiding Light, and I was playing with my Pepper dolls.  The air was filled with the scent of clean, hot cotton, and although the TV was on, I mostly remember the thump of the iron on the ironing board and the hiss of the water from the sprinkler bottle dissolving into steam as it hit the surface of my mom's trusty iron.  Occasionally, a freshly ironed sleeve would brush against my cheek as my mom shifted the shirt she was working on.  We didn't talk, at least not that I remember, but it was calm and peaceful there under the ironing board.  With a family of six, in the days when permanent press fabrics were just beginning to hit the market, my mom had a lot of ironing to do.  I remember she used to keep a plastic bag full of damp clothes in the bottom of our fridge between washing days and ironing days, and I loved watching as piece by piece that mound of crinkled up cotton was transformed.  After an hour or two, there were pants and shirts with sharp creases hanging on door knobs and neat stacks of crisp pillowcases, handkerchiefs, and napkins on the couch.  Although my mom probably had a hundred things to do when she finished, she never seemed to be in a hurry when she ironed.  As with so many things, she took her time and did it right.  I think about that as I hurry through my days, running an iron over the skirt I'm about to put on, quickly pressing away the worst of the wrinkles.  During the years raising three kids and working full time, I got into the habit of rushing through housekeeping chores, giving them "a lick and promise, " as my mom would say.  As a matter of fact, it wasn't just housekeeping chores that I hurried through, I got into the habit of rushing through life.  I doubt I will ever have the patience and desire to become an expert in the art of ironing like my mom is, but I would like to start living more deliberately.  I want to take my time and do things right.  I want calm and peaceful afternoons even in the midst of a busy life.

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