Posted by: canthold | July 13, 2007

Iron Mommy

When I was a teenager, we had an ironing board at the end of our hallway permanently set up. It wasn’t that it was a fixture, but we never took it down. That was back when ironing was fun for me. I seem to recall even ironing my mom’s work clothes because I enjoyed it.

In my Army days, I used to iron my uniforms because that’s what all squared away soldiers did. The irony of wrinkle-free starched camouflage wasn’t lost on me. There aren’t many smooth bushes in the field, now, are there? But we weren’t in the field. We were inside pounding away at our keyboards. In those days I would trade uniform ironing with guys who would spit-shine my boots. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my boots to look the way they should – like mirrors on the end of my toes. Being the true capitalist that I am and knowing that my competitive advantage was ironing, I made the trade.

It seems that many of the different periods in my life needed ironing. Young career woman was next. Back then I would iron my blouses and skirts before donning the big-buckled belt, which is back, by the way, not that I’ll ever go there again. Actually, I’m not entirely sure it is back. I’m not exactly fashion forward. If I see it, the trend is probably on its way out. 

My family and I traveled to Lake Tahoe recently for a party and stayed in a house with three other couples, all of which were childless and living a much different lifestyle than we were. When getting the house ready to turn back over to the owner before heading back to the grind, we had to wash all the sheets and towels. In the laundry room there was an ironing board set up, which one of the gentlemen was in the process of taking down as I entered. I stopped in my tracks.

I think I looked at that ironing board like it was a package of naked pictures from a blackmailer. It was a dirty little secret from my past that I wasn’t ready to confront. This guy had ironed his shirt the night before to wear to the party (by himself!) and was putting the board away, (by himself!)

Like my life passing before my eyes, I saw my husband going to work with wrinkled shirts. The red one being particularly wrinkled. I was ashamed. It’s not that I’m a Stepford Wife, but I am very easy to goad into a challenge. I don’t like to be criticized because I want to be perfect. By the way, this is quite a contradiction to my laid-back attitude about doing the best we can, but I just don’t like when someone finds fault with me. (I want to be the only one who knows what they are!)

I was determined not to let my husband go out wrinkled again!

My resolve was put to the test just yesterday. As my husband was about to go to work on Thursday, he waved a wrinkled shirt at me. It was a mess! He said something like, “Can I wear this like this?” because I choose to believe he wouldn’t have asked me to iron for him five minutes before he left with, “I can’t wear this like this.”

I took the thing to my dinky laundry room. Then I got out the vacuum and rescued my ironing board from a million spider webs, with spiders still living in them. Then I quickly moved it and vacuumed some more. Then I turned it upside down and vacuumed it some more. Then I set it up and covered it with a pillowcase, just in case there was mold on the pad that I couldn’t see.

And I started ironing.

My kids walked in and wanted to know what I was doing. They had never seen anything like it before. They watched completely mesmerized like I was demonstrating a typewriter or an eight-track player.

My husband was happy and left peacefully, but as soon as he was gone, my kids brought their clothes in to me so I could show them how the iron worked again. “Can you iron this, Mommy?” “Can you iron this?” I felt pretty good showing them this amazing technology. I felt less like an old house Frau and more like a magician. And that’s a better way to look at ironing anyway.



  1. I’ve been ironing up a storm this summer due to our OCD obsession with Perler beads. And it’s amazing how it sneaks up on you –I found myself just touching up the edges of some new pillowcases–I was afraid they would develop permanent ridges where the wrinkles were. And then I iron a skirt… I guess if we ever stop doing “iron beads” I will lose my newfound ironing jones but for the moment, I am stomping out wrinkles everywhere! –Barb

  2. I have no idea what Perler beads are! The only other ironing I’ve done in the last few years besides what’s mentioned above is my attempt to sew my daughter a dress. I’ll have to write about that one because it’s a little nuts.

    Thanks for your comment!

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