3.27.2011

Domestic Bliss

I broke down this weekend and bought an ironing board.

Then unpacked my iron.

I don't think I've ironed anything in three years, maybe four. There's no reason to iron anything on a tropical island; you look wilted all the time.

I was motivated partly from disgust at how expensive dry cleaning has become. Fifty bucks for three items? Come on. 

And I was motivated even more by frustration. In my new role as Working Mother of Twins, I really don't have time to get to the dry cleaner. My clothes pile up and each morning I scramble to find something both pressed and attractive -- not easy. There's no such thing as running errands with twins; never has been, and I haven't yet heard another twin parent tell me when errands become possible once again. Which leads me to think it's not for a long, long time. Better to have an ironing board just in case.

And I also think I was needing a mental distraction, from the loud cries of "I want Mommy" and from the miles-long, to-do list of overdues that fills my head from work. 

Something mindless and satisfactory, like ironing.

So I cleared a spot in the bedroom by shoving aside all the Christmas stuff still not put away, and plugged 'er in. I filled the steam reservoir with water and listened to the soothing shush of water heating. I started in on a couple of blouses, pushing the steam button and getting only mildly bothered when four years of built-up dirt spurted out onto my clean cotton. Oh well, I'll just throw those first two back in the wash.

I looked out my window and asked myself the tough questions. Like, why did the previous owners build a fake bamboo enclosure for the swimming pool pump, as if it was this house that was on a Caribbean island and Dos Palapas was only a dream. Was it? Like, how many wooden playscapes can I count by just looking down from here into the neighbors' yards? Does everyone in West Hartford install a wooden playscape for their children? What happens when the kids outgrow them? Can you repurpose them?

I remember Valentina, the motherly lady in Moscow, who ironed my clothes for just pennies. I resisted for a long time, I could iron myself, I told her in my very limited Russian, she didn't need to do this for me. But slowly in my naive, transplanted haze I realized that for her, my wrinkled shirts were income. Only much later did I learn she had a PhD in applied engineering. This was nearly 20 years ago. My wrinkles are different now, which causes an even greater mixed kind of sadness, and I wonder what has become of her. I think of all the people whose language I haven't really spoken, who have taken care of me.

I'm interrupted by Hayden, rushing into the room. "What's THAT, Mama?" he asks, incredulous. Has he never seen an iron?

"You'll do that to my clothes, too, Mama?"

Hmm, I say, frustrated that my break from frustration is over. I think about saying that generally Batman shirts don't need to be ironed because Batman is, well Batman. Not inclined to be wrinkled. Or worn by anyone who cares, especially since my little man wears three shirts at a time. The most efficient way to deal with the cold, when all you've ever known since you were born is the heat of Honduras, until you got relocated back to Hartford and the worst winter in history.

"Yes, Sweetie," I say deliberately sweetly. "Of course I'll iron your clothes, too.

And with that, the calming moment ends, and domesticity, blissful and otherwise, takes back over.