A well-worn apron

August 18, 2008 | 21 comments

This post is part of the Flashback Series featuring posts from the site archives. It was originally published on May 11, 2007.

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. Sara

    When I was in the process of becoming Catholic, my sponsor used to invite me over to her house every Sunday after Mass to have lunch with her family. She has a well worn apron hanging on her pantry door. Those Sunday afternoons are some of my best memories from RCIA.

  2. amy

    very well said!

  3. Sandra

    I feel this way about my dirty cook books. If a page is stained and well worn, I know it’s a good meal and am thankful for the opportunity to have cooked it for my family and friends. Thanks for the encouragement today to keep loving and caring for our families!

  4. fairyflutters

    Ahhh, sounds like a lovely goal to me!

    Other than the one about having clothes worth protecting, I pretty much have all those things you listed. Well, I guess I do have a few nice things but nothing I’d be cooking in. 🙂

    Great post!

  5. kris

    you have NO idea HOW this spoke to me today…I LOVE aprons and I’d almost say I collect them! My daughter wears one w/me everytime we cook together. I am PRINTING OUT your words and hanging them up to remind me of my gratitude to Him for providiing…esp when I feel like complaining “I dont want to cook/clean tonite!” Thanks…really

  6. Maria

    So glad you are doing this flashback series!

    I just started wearing an apron. My sisters and I were fighting over who was going to inherit my grandmother’s well-worn, much-loved apron. My mother ended the in-fighting by making us each our own aprons, using grandma’s as a pattern. I just love wearing it. It brings my mother and grandmother to mind – two of the most holy, most loving women I’ve known who brought true dignity and worth to the role of a homemaker. I hope my daughters will someday be fighting over my old apron.

  7. Nicole

    I think that is a great goal. Afterall, I have never met anyone who laid on their deathbed and said, “I wish I spent more time in the office, or with my car.” Always, people long for more time to spend with their loved ones. The apron speaks to me; cooking is a way that I express my love for my family and a big part of how I spend time with my girls.

  8. Applehead


    I’m not much of an apron wearer, but I love the sentiment behind this post!

  9. Katie

    I loooove my aprons! I have two that my friend had her grandmother make for me, they’re so, so useful.

    My only complaint about modern aprons is most are much too short. When we do 18th century historical re-enactments, my apron is long enough to almost cover my petticoats. I can carry things around in it, wipe things off, etc. I’ve tried using it with my modern clothes, but it’s made to go around your actual waist, and just looks ridiculous and doesn’t work (I probably didn’t explain that properly, but oh well!)

  10. Elizabeth

    A truly noble aspiration, Jennifer!

    My equivalent is an online recipe box chalk full of recipes I love—complete with notes about what my family thought of the dish, what to side dishes to serve, etc.

    Love this!

  11. The Messy Mom

    I am inspired. I really think I am going to have to get an apron now!

  12. Esther

    I love what you say about the meaning behind a well-worn apron. How lovely!

  13. Elizabeth

    well said – and a great goal. I feel similarly about my hiking boots and running shoes – because if I’m not sharing the trails and enjoying the wonders of nature with friends or family, the pup is along for sure.

  14. Anonymous

    My mother in law has always worn an apron. When we go back to visit in Texas, she would make cookies with my boys. I made them aprons with their names on it to keep there. It’s always hanging in her kitchen, so there is a little part of them that lingers there after we leave. I now need to make one for my daughter and niece.

  15. mama k

    What a lovely post. Found you via Merchant Ships.

    I love aprons and I think that this is quite a noble goal.

  16. Tara

    This is really beautiful. I almost have an empty house. My kids are seniors in high school and my oldest is 24. It made me remember the days that I was a stay at home mom rather than as I am now out in the big bad world finding my way in single parenthood. I long for the days when I could nuture and cook and just be there for them. I miss those days. And I no longer have an apron. I need to replace that lost treasure of mommyhood! Thanks for the beautiful tribute to being a maker of the home. Such noble reasons for cherishing that thread bear apron.

  17. beverlydru

    I love this post. Thank you for articulating your thoughts in such a beautiful way. Very characterisitic of your blog.

  18. Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart

    That is lovely and a worthy goal.

  19. Carrie

    This is absolutely beautiful and I LOVE it!! And I Love my apron!! I have one my mom gave me right out of college and I thought I’d never use it. A few years ago I pulled it out of the closet, dusted it off, and I think I’ve worn it every day since when cooking… it is a lifesaver and I love the theme you have about a well-worn apron! I am happy that mine is slowly wearing out!! 😉 Thanks for this great reminder of all we have to be thankful for!!

  20. Melanie B

    I like the metaphor in the abstract; but I had a hard time connecting with wearing an apron as a daily reality.

    I used to like wearing an apron. These days not so much. I’ve been mulling over this post and wondering why. Today it occurred to me: I don’t have the energy and money for the nice clothes. I’ve been nursing and/or pregnant the last 3 years almost. We’ve been on a tight budget. I’ve bought a few nice clothes in that time but since I never lost the weight after baby #1 and gained more weight with baby #2 many of them don’t fit.

    Not to mention that I have a baby who spits up after every single meal. What’s the point of wearing an apron to cover up clothes that are going to be spit on anyway? And you can’t nurse a baby wearing an apron either.

    I suppose for now I’ll have to aspire to one day having a reason to wear my apron again so that it can become well-worn.

    I hope that doesn’t sound too negative. I do like the post, just find it is a little alien at this particular season of my life.

  21. Anonymous

    Aprons are a strong link to my past. My mother and grandmother both wore and sewed (for sale) aprons of all styles and sizes. Even though being a boy, I was sometimes used as their model!!! I don’t really remember either of those women ever being without a fresh apron on. I remember walking to the shops with either or both, their aprons flapping in the breeeze. When it was time for my mother to go to aged care we were sorting out clothes,linen and all the other “stuff” now called memorabilia, some aprons caught my eye and I new I had to save them. I know your question! Yes I wear my mothers aprons when I cook,so does my wife. When we tie on one of her hand made aprons it feels like she is in the kitchen with us .

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates