The Rockwood Files: A Wrinkle in Time

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

I’m lucky because the dress code around my home office is ultra casual. There have been a few days when I didn’t even make it out of pajamas before noon. My 3-year-old “supervisor” could care less as long as I keep the juice boxes and Goldfish crackers coming.

When I left my full-time office job years ago and began working from home, I started making fewer trips to the dry cleaners, and our ironing board acquired layers of dust over the years. As a die-hard “jeans and a t-shirt” girl, the new dress code suited me just fine.

But the other day I needed to go somewhere on business, and the shirt I planned to wear was really wrinkled, as in “left it in the dryer way too long” kind of wrinkled. I tried tossing it back into the dryer, hoping the wrinkles would tumble away. They didn’t. As much as I hated to do it, it was time to pull out the iron.

So I propped up the dusty ironing board and let the iron pre-heat while warning 8-year-old Adam and 5-year-old Jack not to get too close to the iron because it would be hot. They glanced up from their game and looked at me blankly, as if they didn’t quite understand what I was talking about.

A few minutes later, I smoothed the wrinkled shirt over the end of the ironing board and started the rhythmic back-and-forth motion with the hot iron. It had been so long since I used my barely competent ironing skills that I was pretty sure I was making the wrinkles worse instead of better. I muttered to myself under my breath every time I made an accidental crease in the fabric.

“Mom, what are you doing?” Jack asked.

“I’m ironing my shirt for a meeting I’m going to today,” I replied.

“Mom, what’s an iron?” asked Adam. “Is that like ‘Iron Man’ the movie?”

I stopped swaying back and forth with the iron and looked up at them. They weren’t kidding. Their little faces were honestly curious. And that’s when it hit me that my kids had never really seen an iron before. They didn’t know what it was or what it was used for. What does this say about my domestic skills? What kind of mother has an 8-year-old kid who has never laid eyes on an iron before?

For a few moments, I felt ashamed, as if someone might come over and revoke my “good mother” card. I know a few mothers who are downright fanatical about ironing. They iron their bed sheets and their blue jeans. I even knew one woman who used to iron her socks because she swore that the wrinkles hurt her feet. (I once told her that I thought the sock-ironing habit might be stepping a toe over into the obsessive-compulsive pool. But then again, at least her kids can identify an iron in a line-up of common household appliances, so who am I to judge?)

We all have to make peace with our strengths and weaknesses. And I’m the kind of jeans-and-a-t-shirt mother who knows her way around an iPhone much better than an iron. And any wrinkle stubborn enough to hang in there during an extended tumbling cycle in the dryer is a wrinkle I may just have to live with. Does anyone know if they make an “app” for ironing?

rockwoodheadshot2010compressed2.jpgGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.