This article is from the Huffington Post:
I initially decided to start ironing my own clothes because paying
someone else to wash and iron them seemed economically irresponsible.
It wasn't that I couldn't afford that luxury. I could. Ultimately,
though, I became uncomfortable simply thinking of that indulgence. What
events on my calendar, I wondered, made it impossible for me to spend at
the most an hour a week ironing my shirts?
So it was that I
hauled my mother's ironing board out of the closet. It's a heavy, solid
wood contraption. Setting it up is no simple task. There's nothing
easy or automatic about it. And yet my mother used it throughout her
adult life. During my childhood she heated her irons on the stove
because our Arizona ranch house lacked electricity. Despite the
obstacles, we never wore wrinkled clothes. Even my father's
handkerchiefs were neatly pressed and folded.
Not too surprisingly, my mother taught me to iron. I began with those handkerchiefs and eventually built up to shirts.
"There's an order to ironing a shirt," my mother instructed with the implication that there was also an order to life.
began with the wrong side out to make sure the areas behind the buttons
and the buttonholes were pressed. She next ironed each side. Then in
order she ironed the yoke, the back, the sleeves and finally the collar.
Put the shirt on a hanger, button the top button, and go on to the
Irons warmed on a cook stove require attention. An
iron too cold doesn't accomplish anything. An iron too hot scorches the
fabric or even sets it on fire. Of course, my mother's irons produced
no steam so the clothes had to be 'sprinkled' with water and rolled up
to keep them moist during the ironing process.
My current return
to the ironing board required less thought and much less effort. For
far less money than I was spending in one trip to the cleaners I bought a
steam iron. Not only could it produce steam, it had a temperature
control dial which even stated the type of material for each setting.
ever so awkward but determined, I began my foray back into ironing. I
immediately heard the familiar creaking sounds from the ironing board as
I moved the steam iron back and forth. I focused on those sounds and
remembered sitting on a kitchen chair with my legs not quite touching
the floor watching my mother iron my father's shirts. I could almost
smell the irons heating on the stove. There was always one on the stove
and the other in my mother's hands.
She and I sang while she ironed. Soon I heard myself humming those
songs to myself as I focused ironing each part of my shirts. I
remembered the pride I felt when I was finally allowed to iron a
handkerchief. Filled with my adult technologically bound ersatz
sophisticated life, that memory seemed strange and so out of context.
But there it was. I had felt pride in ironing a square piece of cotton.
finished ironing the first shirt and felt a return of that childhood
pride. I recalled and reclaimed the rhythm of ironing and became lost
in the process. Suddenly ironing my shirts became the most important
activity in my life. With such complete immersion I was free to
remember my childhood kitchen with its thick adobe walls. I heard the
old butane powered Servel refrigerator clunking its way into
obsolescence. And I felt my mother's gentle presence.
seemingly mundane activity of ironing shirts has taken a meaning beyond
self-sufficiency or financial prudence. I now iron my own shirts to
feel the peace of concentrating completely on one activity. I now iron
my own shirts to reclaim my connection to my childhood and to the
remarkable woman who taught me so much more than how to get the wrinkles
out of a handkerchief.