t h e w o r l d o f i n v i s i b l e i l l n e s s


little girl ironingIt started with doll clothes.

Dad’s hankies.

Pillow cases.

That’s how I learned to iron.

Those were the days when ironing was hot, hard, serious work.  Still damp, starched clothes were rolled tight, then stored in a vegetable-bin-type container in the fridge.  Mom took her role seriously, playing her part in Dad’s job.  She ironed my father’s military uniforms with care and precision for over 25 years.

Boy, did he look sharp.

And when my sister and I went to elementary school, our dresses were starched, the bows in the back ironed, pert, and tied with precision.   There were no droopy bows at our house.

Mom taught me to iron critically and carefully.  Only press velvet inside-out.  Steam woolens, preferably with a press cloth between the iron and the fabric.  Shirts, especially collars and cuffs, called for starch.  The most important message was to never ever leave the house without wearing clean, pressed clothes and polished shoes.  (Shoe care was Dad’s department — even now, I resent that my husband doesn’t make with the shinola.)

My parents were not wealthy nor did they come from wealth; their parents immigrated from Europe over 100 years ago.  Their children, my parents, knew that appearance was the way to fit in.  Growing up a military brat, I learned that, too.

When Mom moved to a care facillity she complained if her slacks weren’t crisply pressed.  “Double tracks” she called it when a new crease ran parallel to the old one.

To this day, I can’t look at a pair of pants I’ve hastily pressed without calling myself out for creating double tracks.

Kathe Skinner is a psychotherapist and relationship coach specializing in work with couples whose relationship is impacted by invisible illness.  She herself has multiple sclerosis.   During a recent move, she filled a large box with ironing that (still) needs to be done.  Her’s and David’s two kitties now treat the ironing board as part of the furniture, which it is.  She would be pleased to hear from you.

Categories: Effect of invisible (hidden) disability on relationship

1 reply

  1. That’s wonderful ! Human psyche can be so impressionable !

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