Aprons and Glamour

At our son’s rehearsal dinner, we invited our guests to come up to a podium for a time of addressing the happy couple. Kevin had asked for this since his now-wife’s love language is words of affirmation. (But even if he hadn’t, we would have planned that anyway. I’m a huge believer in helping people love and encourage each other publicly.) My husband, as the host, first welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming, then it was my turn.

I had donned a bright red, brand new apron for the occasion and spoke to my precious new daughter-in-love. “For 24 years I have been the number one woman in Kevin’s life, but that ends now. Lauren, I have a gift for you. . .” I untied the apron and gathered the strings in my left hand, and from a pocket on the apron I pulled out a pair of scissors with the other. I snipped off the strings and handed them to Lauren.

Her mother exclaimed out loud, “She’s cutting off the apron strings!” But Lauren’s face was a mixture of bewilderment and confusion. She was clearly thinking, “What’s going on?!??”

All the people in the room over 40 knew what I was doing: making a symbolic statement that I was no longer Mommy, and I would not be mothering my son the way I did up to that point in his life. But the under-40 crowd didn’t have a clue. Many of them hadn’t seen their mothers in an apron, and the expression “cutting off the apron strings” as a metaphor for letting a child go free into adulthood was foreign to them.

In my fantasy, it was going to be a sweet, tender and powerful moment. I was going to make an eloquent statement that would communicate to everyone there my faith in Kevin to be a full adult man and my promise to his bride that I would not interfere with the priorities of his affections.

It sure didn’t turn out that way!

It was more like lamely having to explain the punch line of a joke.

Which is why we need to be aware of how culture shifts and changes, and that what is relevant to one generation may well be lost to the next. If we want to minister to women across all age ranges, we need to keep our eyes and ears open to what it’s like to be 20, or 30, or 40, or beyond. My son and his wife live on a college campus where they are surrounded by youth culture, and they have already blessed me with perspective on songs I need to be aware of, and the ways college students are thinking and processing life.

Which is why, when Glamour magazine started arriving unordered at my house, I didn’t toss it. I read it. Yikes!

And Lord have mercy.

Sue Bohlin

Sue Bohlin is a speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She also loves speaking for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Clubs) on the topic How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can't Change, based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor.

She has a freelance calligraphy business in her home studio; hand lettering was her "Proverbs 31 job" while her children were young. Sue also serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered organization that helps people struggling with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those with same-sex attractions.

Sue never met a cruise ship she didn't like, especially now that God has provided a travel scooter for getting around any ship! She is happily married to Dr. Ray Bohlin, writer and speaker on faith and science with Probe Ministries, and they have two grown sons. You can follow Sue on Twitter @suebohlin.


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    Gwynne Johnson

    Wonder what the symbol is today?
    Wonder what symbolizes the "release" of sons to new daughter’s in law today? Is it possible that with all the changing roles for women "mothering" has moved down the list of priorities? Wonder what some of our younger friends see as in-law concerns today?

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      Sue Bohlin

      Symbols for today

      Boy, Gwynne, I don’t know that there IS an answer to that question. We seem to have moved away from ceremonies and symbols, not understanding how they link us to the past and to each other.

      As a

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    Sharifa Stevens

    I get it! I get it!

    I get it! I get it, Sue! But then again, I am in my thirties…:o)

    I am dumbfounded at the lack of commonality in books, icons, pop culture, amongst generations in the same country. It seems as if culture has taken on the instant, fast-barrelling quality that technology has.

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      Sue Bohlin

      Thanks, Sharifa! You are so

      Thanks, Sharifa! You are so right about "traditions worth knowing." During the Olympics there was a story about Eric Liddell, the medalist Christian who served Christ in China as a missionary. Someone in that story said something about lost children, disconnected from family and culture–that the way to ground them is through rituals and traditions, which connect them to the past and to their culture. I loved that! It’s so true! Probably one reason I always cry at ceremonies. All ceremonies. Because the meaning of ceremony is so big and so transcendent.

      I am impressed that you have multiple aprons which are a Costume of Care (love that!) to your husband. Mine is not a costume. It’s fully functional because I am so messy in the kitchen that I honesty do not understand how the Food Network stars can cook without one.

      And I love the idea of friends donning aprons together in the kitchen. What a great connector! As women, we are just wired to connect to each other, aren’t we? And we do so to the glory of God because it was His delight to make us that way.

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        Heather A. Goodman

        I loved hearing that story

        I loved hearing that story on the Olympics. I was very impressed that NBC did it.

        I own one apron–a Christmas one. I’m the type who just wipes my hands on my jeans. But I got the cutting off the apron strings metaphor, and I think it was a powerful one!


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      Gail Seidel

      Let’s hear it for aprons!
      I a definitely IN with you, Sharifa AND Sue AND Sandi. I love aprons! AND I wear them AND I make them and I think they are cute; but, I also long to be a "bridge crosser" in the generation gap and concur that we need to work at it. Sharifa, Help! can we do reciprocal lessons on our respective generation’s culture?…remember now, I am the one who didn’t own a pair of jeans in college excpet to ride horses… how times have changed.

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    Sandra Glahn

    Great Post

    I love the gesture! And if you had it to do over, I hope you’d still do it. Maybe she didn’t get the metaphor in the moment, but a whole lot of others did. And it’s beautiful and worth explaining.

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