My mother and her mother spent much of their lives in the kitchen—where they prepared food, served meals, and washed dishes. And always, always, they were wearing aprons: bright calico aprons with rick-rack trim that my grandmother made.
She used a simple pattern with two side pockets and long ties that met in a bow in the back. I can still hear her old treadle sewing machine humming in the basement as she sewed aprons—hundreds of them for the church bazaar.
And they sold well because women all wore aprons when I was growing up. But when I became a married women, and then a mother, I spent less time in the kitchen. Partly, because I was working outside the home; also, because I wanted to do other things.
My mother commented on this. “I’m more like my mother than you are like me,” she said with a kind of sadness. She wanted to respect my choices—which were more numerous than hers had been—but she also wanted me to be like her, to validate her life.
We didn’t negotiate those differences very well. And I think about her now when I’m in my kitchen chopping up vegetables for soup—wishing I had one of my grandmother’s aprons.