A well-worn apron

May 11, 2007 | 15 comments

Recent posts by Sarah and Catholic Mom remind me of something I’ve been thinking about lately: my goal in life is to have a well-worn apron.

It sounds crazy, I know. Here’s the story:

I’m a goal-setter. Granted, I’m better at setting goals than actually achieving them, but I love to write down dreams and plans of things I want to do. Yet over the past couple of years I’ve realized that my long-term goals in particular have always been way too detailed and specific, and I often forget about them simply because my interests changed or they were no longer appealing for one reason or another. I realized I need a single, broad vision rather than an overly detailed inventory.

Meanwhile, I discovered that handy little kitchen accessory that was almost lost to the dustbin of history after the feminist revolution: the apron. I don’t think I’d ever seen a woman wear one (except in old Leave It to Beaver reruns) so it never occurred to me to have one. Yet in the painful process of learning basic cooking skills after I got married, I was often frustrated that clean clothes would get trashed in the process of trying to put together a meal. So when I friend recommended that I use an apron, I was amazed. Who came up with this amazing invention? Not only did it keep my clothes nice and clean and give me pockets for whisks and little herb bottles, but it gave me a feeling of contentedness and comfort each time I put it on.

So back to life goals. As I’ve grown in my role as wife and mother, when I think about what I want out of life I often come back to that apron. I realized that if I ever have an apron hanging from the pantry door that is threadbare and covered in stains, I have probably lived a pretty good life. Because having a well-worn apron means:

  • You have food to eat
  • You have someone to cook for
  • You have someone to sit down at the table with you to share in the fruits of your efforts
  • You have the resources and the physical ability to make homemade meals
  • You have the energy and the money to wear clothes that are nice enough to be worth protecting
  • You care enough to do all of the above

I’ve frequently heard the advice that in order to set goals you have to envision what you want to have accomplished at the end of your life, and then work backwards from there. My list of desired accomplishments used to be an elaborate paper full of names of places and business ventures and material possessions. A lot of those things still sound nice enough, but no longer inspire me on a deep level (in fact, I don’t think they ever really did).

My goal in life is now much more simple, yet far more inspiring: to live a long life surrounded by friends and family and children and grandchildren and, at the end of the day, to have a worn out old apron hanging from my pantry door.


  1. Amber

    Sounds perfect to me! I love my apron, even if it is one I stole from my husband. I never used one until he suggested I try the one he bought in college. It is rather big and masculine, but it does the trick. Perhaps one of these days I’ll get around to making a more feminine one for myself.

  2. lyrl

    I think that’s universally inspiring – the popularity of the movie It’s A Wonderful Life attests to that. However, so many people repeat these clichés about the important things in life, but then go right on living their material-driven lives. It’s like our society places a materialistic roadblock across the road to a fulfilling life. I think it’s wonderful you’ve used such a simple garment to break a hole through this roadblock.

  3. SteveK

    Sounds like an awesome goal, Jen. A friend of mine was wearing an apron in the kitchen a few weeks ago and I remember thinking that I hadn’t seen one since I was a child.

  4. S.M. Stirling

    How can anyone cook without an apron?

    I love making bread, and you’d get flour permanently ground into your clothes without one.

    And the thought of basting without one… shudder.

  5. Karie


    It is soooo good to read about someone who has had the same goals early in life and then to move on to the same goals later in life. I feel like you understand me and perhaps vice versa. I am hoping for a well-worn apron, knees, chapped hands, lots of laugh lines, etc. When I get to Heaven, I hope to be used up, out and often with the people I love cheering me on. God bless you.

  6. Jay

    I have just came across your blog, but it is obvious that you have been sent great graces from God, in particular needed for your conversion. I am Roman Catholic all my life and I very much love to read stories of conversions. It proves how great is love and mercy of God and how much He loves you. I hope you will live the Word up to the end! God bless you even more!

  7. Sarah

    Awwww…all those warm fuzzy feelings just make me feel a bit gushy. 🙂

  8. Christine

    I think that sounds like a wonderful goal. Happy Mother’s Day, and may your apron be stained and threadbare.


  9. mrsdarwin

    It helps if your apron is bright red and has a big Tobasco logo on it — hides lots of stains. 🙂

  10. Stephanie

    I LOVE aprons, I have a “housecleaning” apron that a friend online made for me (out of the blue!) and it’s a half-apron that’s a full skirt, and makes me feel girly and fun even when I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt, lol. I think that’s a wonderful goal!

    BTW, if you’re up to it, I tagged you for a meme (about books)!

  11. RC

    this is a beautiful post and the imagry is fantastic.

    i’ve actually been thinking of trying to summerize a life long goal as well for myself and my wife and I as a family.

    While my goal will be different, the overall goals you lay out are very similar.

    i loved your post and am so glad i read it.

  12. Mrs. Brown

    I’ve been a lurker on this site for some time…love it!

    Aprons are wonderful. On my wedding day (2 years ago), my husband and I stopped at a little Greek deli on our way to the reception because we were starving. The lady behind the counter gave me a big white chef’s apron as a present. While I was touched at the time, it occurs to me now that it was a pretty symbolic gesture. Cooking is one of the things that makes civilization possible, and has traditionally been “women’s work”. It was almost like being vested for my new-found office.

    Of course, my husband does do a bit of cooking, too….and he ALWAYS wears my wedding-apron.

  13. Marcella

    You have inspired me to go pull out my aprons. I have some vintage aprons I bought at an antique store in Iowa a long time ago for $1 a piece. Plus I have at least one of my grandmothers aprons. I am not sure how long it will take me to actually find these aprons though! I am afraid I collect too many things and have put most of them away to keep the children from trashing them.

  14. Kitchen Madonna

    Sounds like we are all in good company. I wrote an “Apron Manifesto’ and started National Wear An Apron Day.

  15. noe

    Well, Jennifer, if you post old posts, I guess you can expect new comments!

    I am a big apron wearer and my mother before me. There were a few years of early motherhood where I neglected the habit and ruined some T-shirts. I don’t set foot in my kitchen without tying on an apron.

    My favorite was a muslin one with the Tabasco logo as a big pocket that my husband brought me from Louisiana one time – that one became totally threadbare, faded and stained.

    I’m teaching my daughter to sew and we are starting with aprons. I’ve even bought some vintage fabric, so we’ll really feel like throwbacks!

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