Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fashionable Housework

I've got a collection that may surprise you.  I honestly don't know any other 35 year old with the same obsession, but I'm going to step out of the shadows of secrecy and into the light.

I collect and wear aprons.  It feels almost subversive to type that in today's culture.

Yes.  Aprons.  Homemade vintage aprons.  They are usually gingham with embroidery, but I can be swayed by other homemade aprons.  I've got a flour-sack apron from the Great Depression up to a patchwork monstrosity from the 70s.  Okay, not a monstrosity, but with a look that really requires an open mind to appreciate it.

Here are a few from my collection:

And yes, I do wear them.  Actually I wear one nearly every day and with enough to choose from, I usually can find something to match what I am wearing.

I am not June Cleaver.  This is not some nostalgic throw-back to the 50's suburban housewife mentality.  The aprons are somewhat practical.  Especially when cooking, I like to have something to wipe my hands on; I tend to be a messy cook.

But the main purpose these aprons serve is to delineate "working" from "not working".  When I am home all day with my children, my home is my office.  With five kids, there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done.  I think it is impossible to catch up on everything, because once you get the house looking sharp, someone has peed in their bed and laundry needs to be done.  Or, somebody inevitably will have to eat - children are needy that way.

Aprons solve the dilemma of being unable to relax with work needing to be done.  When my apron is on, I work. I cook, clean and do laundry.  I take care of what needs to be done.  But, once that apron comes off during an afternoon break or in the evening, I don't feel compelled to do housework.  I could, but I don't feel guilty if it remains undone till morning.  It helps to establish clear boundaries and makes me a much happier person.

So why homemade aprons?  Why vintage aprons?  New aprons would serve the same practical purpose, but the big advantage to aprons carefully stitched by other women, even people I will never meet, is that I feel connected to the women who have lived before me.  When wearing another woman's apron (itself a pretty personal thing) I feel like a link in the tradition of all the other women who cared for their family and took pride in it. 

The apron functions as a uniform of sorts, reminding me that I am in fact a "working mother" even if I don't currently have a salary for the job.  But like any job (even great ones) it is good when the workday is done and I can just relax with my family.

My post is part of the "On My Mind" blog sharing series on the Down To Earth Blog.

1 comment:

Jode said...

oh my goodness that is a wonderful apron collection...i have some too but i never use them for some have inspired me to go and pull them out...thanks for sharing!