Picking Up the Apron Strings.

By Alison January 10, 2011 14 Comments 4 Min Read

So there I was. Sitting at a beautifully laid table in front of a bowl of home-made soup, with bread still warm from the oven and a jug full of real lemonade. There I was. Still wearing my “Domestic Goddess” apron, feeling like all was well with the world and planning on a little stimulating conversation with the oracle that is my seven year old. When said seven year old went and ruined my day.
Domestic Goddess? he sneered in mean new tone of voice he seems to be cultivating.
Yes, I beamed, Mummy is a Domestic Goddess.
No, you aren’t, he said. Laughing.
Do you even know what domestic means?

Yes, he said. You spend an awful lot of time writing about housework, but you never actually do it.
And with that I watched my cover blow away on the kind of dust I apparently never get round to shifting. In my little boys eyes, he who is my domestic raison d’etre, I am a fraud and ain’t that just enough to have me shooting myself in the foot and throwing in my gorgeous, lavender scented  towels??
As a race, we Vintage Housekeepers go deeply under appreciated, so is it any wonder we get to experiencing a hefty dose of the Why Bothers from time to time? When our little ones would apparently be happier with a tin of Heinz and a nasty old Fruit Shoot? When our men use precious vintage tea-towels to dab engine oil off some obscure part of the car? When visiting guests declare that our house makes them feel tired, when in actual fact, what they surely mean is that our house makes them feel relaxed, and we have thus achieved the very atmosphere we intended to: a house that hugs it’s people?
Damn them. Damn the lot of them. Do it for yourself. Pick up the apron strings of domesticity all over again and do it because coming home to a house gently scented with lemons makes you feel safe and gently joyful.  Do it because you sleep better on pillows spritzed with chamomile and feeding your family good wholesome food warms your heart.
Take pride when your partner smirks when he asks what you do all day. Take pride and stuff him. If he won’t acknowledge the the very fruits of the labour that ensure he always has clean shirts to hand and fridge full of ice cold beer, then stuff him. Do it because this is the way we show our love and we show our love not for affirmation, but because we have no choice. Because this is how it spills from us. This is the way we show it. Do it not because it get’s us a round of applause, but because we will not let ourselves down. Know that when they do not profess to see you toiling, then you are doing it right. You are home-making, not housekeeping. Know that you do not owe them one ounce of sweat, but can still offer your work as proof of your love.
Do it because from this comes everything else. Do it because a tidy clean house offers liberation to the creative soul. Don’t tell yourself that it doesn’t matter. It does. While great things may spill eventually, from the kind of artistic chaos that make for glamorous photo’s on your Tumblr feed in real life mess is counter productive, and ultimately gets in the way of personal progression. Tidy up and see how you fly. Create routines that reduce effort to almost zero and use the time gained to get to work on yourself.
If you don’t know how, stop what you are doing now and get to it. Abandon ambition. Those knitting needles and that book. Set aside decorative plans and puttery treats and just for a while work on what is. Clean. Tidy. Organize. Throw yourself into it, body, mind and soul and when you reach a place where clarity comes a calling, sit down with a pen and paper and work out a plan to keep it this way.  Then live for  a while. Bake and eat and entertain. Sleep a lot. Take baths in the middle of the day. Find a cosy place to read. LIVE in your house and experience what it is to be HOME.
Do it for yourself. Do it because one day you might just sit down at that table covered in tea-stained lace and hold a conversation with yourself that will change your life. Do it because seven year old’s are blind to everything but Batman and the men lucky enough to live with us don’t know they are born. Do it for them, but above all else, pick up your apron strings again, and do it for yourself.
Do it because lavender smells lovely and a house isn’t a home without a rose covered tin full of home-made shortbread.
Do it because you must. Because it is who you are.
This then is the reason why.


  1. UGH so true — making the home lovely for one's self is a GREAT mantra…

  2. UGH so true — making the home lovely for one's self is a GREAT mantra…

  3. Lucy says:

    Agreed!! Love it! x x x

  4. Sally Hackney says:

    Here, Here!! Well said. Just the medicine for a dreary Monday morn. Thanks, Sally

  5. Maggie says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Alison

  6. Debbi says:

    You write with passion when you're feeling feisty! I like it!

  7. Debbi says:

    You write with passion when you're feeling feisty! I like it!

  8. Carlie says:

    Good golly, Lady! Did I ever need that today. Am feeling so glum lately about how my husband likes storebought bread better than mine and my little boys turn their tiny snub noses up over the cozy rituals I offer them. Blast it all. I do wish they enjoyed it.
    That said, I was just telling my mother-in-law when she visited us in the fall that I am not a vintage housewife "as an act of love for my husband," I do it because it is who I am, I'd be living the same way if I was an old maid. She was positively scandalized and had the audacity to sit there open-mouthed and then ask, "Well, goodness! How DO you show him that you love him then?"

  9. Heather says:

    Anne Morrow Lindbergh said something like, "A housewife's work is invisible work" in her book Gift From the Sea. I always remembered that. A clean house will always get messy again. Family members take for granted the clean laundry, full cupboards, and hot meals. Kids expect you to always be available to take them and their 100 friends to the movies/soccer practice/ parties. No one really takes notice of all the things a woman does for her family. I stopped looking for 'thanks' from my kids a long time ago. I figure they will understand when they move out on their own and have their own kids.

  10. Amy F. says:

    My mother did a wonderful job keeping house when I was a girl. I remember coming home from school and asking her rudely as only a teenager could "What do YOU do all day, anyway?" She would say laughing "Oh, lie around all day eating chocolate bon bons and reading magazines". Not until I was in charge of my own household did I realize just what she did all day.
    Amy F.

  11. Sasha says:

    Well, would you know my 14 year old daughter did just such a thing very recently – a disdainful "what DO you do all day?" which broke my heart at the time. We'd moved into our new house a week earlier, and it was already a work in progress, everything in it's place and Xmas decs and 6 xmas trees up!!! I said "look around. A week ago this was an empty shell, today you're sitting in a home. I'll give you a clue……the fairies didn't magically make it happen overnight…." To know I am not the only mum knocking myself out for no 'apparent' reason, and that my daughter isnt perhaps a complete devil child is a comfort (??!! 😉 and your words even more so. You're right, I am doing it, really, for myself and so with good grace I shall continue and hope I have laid the right foundations for my family along the way??!! Xx

  12. Wendy says:

    Cheeky little begger! Thankfully, as I also homeschool my children, my family sees exactly what I do every MINUTE! They don't ever get to say things like that! I think I would be devestated if they did!
    They get to see first hand about the dishes, laundry, trash, dusting, mopping. et al. They also HAVE TO HELP. We have been teaching them that they are part of a machine. They are a cog, a gear, a wheel, a lever. If one part breaks down the whole breaks down. If the table does not get set for supper, then nobody gets to eat…….until the table setter puts the dishes out . Maybe it is time for young mr. Finley to have some regular chores. Or if he has some, maybe some more that require him to think differently?
    I do believe you have the right answer for those who would be torn up over a phrase such as…. You do it for yourself! You do it because you like too! You do it because you want too! What a blessing you are this day, Alison!

  13. Missie says:

    Oh Alison! I sure needed to read this today…its been a funky week and I swear that I just had this conversation with my own dear son who is 8! Thank you for reminding us all that we deserve to delight in our homes. Thank You Thank You Thank You!!

  14. Kelly says:

    Do you have a good recipe to share for homemade shortbread?

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