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Where Have All the Aprons Gone?

The road was clogged leading past the elementary school, drivers were irritable and cranky, children were running and the big teenage children were riding skateboards in mass down an extremely busy sidewalk. Suburban mayhem.

I was one of those drivers; although not cranky but definitely on my way somewhere, I forget where. Just busy ... always busy. I slammed on my breaks, and waited. Always waiting down that main road.

And then another busy mom; young, blond hair pulled back in a messy bun, darts out of her townhouse to her car parked in front, retrieving something, didn't look what, from the tailgate of her SUV.

I didn't notice much else ... except for one thing. And that one thing made me absurdly happy. She was wearing a faded brown calico apron with a little trim of white now cream lace edging the bib and skirt. And you say this made me happy? Weird, I know. But my heart felt like it grew two sizes when I saw that apron for three seconds amongst the congestion of a busy neighborhood afternoon.

Why? Because not everything changes. Some things endure. And in my humble opinion, aprons should be one of those endurances.

Crazy, I'm sure. But to me, aprons are symbolic. They used to be the uniform of all serious, competent moms and grandmoms. It was practical, it was sanitary ... it was competent. And to hear my mother talk of her growing up years where all women in her world wore aprons, it was the sign of a good housewife; wife and mother.

Aprons were so entwined in women's lives that phrases like, "cutting the apron strings" actually meant something. It was an assumption that all moms wore aprons.

I don't own an apron. I've long had a fascination with them. Why don't I own one? Instead I bake several times a week, and in so doing spray white flour over my often times black t-shirt. It's messy and I'm constantly doing laundry. Why don't I own one? I hate that I don't own one.

Aprons over the years have assisted women as they baked long remembered comfort foods, dried children's tears, carried eggs from the chicken coop, vegetables from the kitchen garden out back, a waving tool to attract the family when dinner was on the table, among other things.

Some say the apron began to lose favor in the 1960's as convenience mechanisms, such as the washing machine and dryer became more prevalent. I also wonder if perhaps aprons would have been a repressive symbol to the evolving women's movement of the 1970's where breaks from all traditional female rolls were challenged and discarded.

Sad, really. To me, aprons are a symbol of strength, of peace, of competence ... even character. How much we've lost by putting to rest our feminine history.

Aprons. It's amazing what little things can make one happy.  Be happy today.

Oh ... and Happy Mother's Day. Especially to my Mom, who exuded feminine charm and motherhood, my Mother-in-law and grandmothers who each in their own unique ways, were amazing examples of the same; and to my great grandmothers, only one of whom I knew, who wore their aprons and served those around them. I'm proud of those aprons that helped shape my life. Thank you for your untiring devotion to family and your community. You are my roll models.

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