making the bed

Posted: February 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

When I first got back around to regularly making my bed as an adult, I didn’t do it in the mornings.  There wasn’t time.  My morning habit was to wake up just in the nick of time, sprinting to the shower, hurriedly throwing on some clothes, bolting down my breakfast before I needed to get going.  No time for the business of fussing with the bed in the morning.

I started out making my bed right before I got into it at night.  Deeply unimpressed with the idea of making my bed to impress others (if you cared whether or not my bed was made, my default was to be insulted by your need to care about it), I only had one motivation:  my own comfort.  I had started to be bothered by wrestling into my jumbled covers each night.  So I started taking a moment or two, just before climbing in, to re-tuck the fitted sheet, pull the covers up to “smooth” position, and make the pillows nice.  Much more welcoming.

Eventually I liked that so much that I moved the process to morning, mostly as a favor to my bedtime self – less to do when I was ready to crash.  I put no pressure on myself to do “hospital corners” on the sheets – this was no precision detail, no work of art.  Close enough was good enough, which meant I didn’t even have to get up earlier to make it.  Twenty or thirty seconds and the job was done.  The sheets somehow felt cooler to me when they’d been straight and in order all day.

The process has continued to evolve over the years; these days I have a pretty bedset and I generally don’t let myself out of the bedroom until everything is in order.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s pretty nice.  I still don’t do it to impress others (if you’re at my house to judge my bed or any other aspect of my housekeeping skills, I’m probably counting the moments until you leave)…but making the bed before I get on with my day does make my world feel more ordered.  My brain is somehow a bit clearer because I get that done.

In defense of my mom, I was taught better than the above narrative would seem to indicate.  For sure we were taught to make our beds, and to “do it right.”  Bed-making was on a long list of housekeeping-type things I rebelled against as soon as I got out on my own and no one could tell me what to do.  This part of my rebellion lasted all the way through raising my kids, who as a result never received much of the instruction I got.  As you might imagine, I don’t keep close tabs on how their beds look when I visit their homes.  We have more important things to do when we are together.

At 50, I am the best housekeeper I’ve ever been, which is not really a very high standard.  The nice thing about this age and stage of my life is the peace on this point:  I clean my house to please myself and to serve G (who I will never manage to out-serve, no matter how hard I try). Making our bed is gift to myself and to G, and nothing more.  A younger me did most household tasks primarily to avoid the judgment of others, which meant no amount of enjoying the after-cleaning-clean ever was enough to motivate me to keep it that way.  Doing housework to please/pacify others made the work unpleasant and left me resentful of the work.  Doing it to try to “be a good person” inevitably left me feeling not-good-enough.  Doing it for myself and as an act of love for G  has turned it into more or less a pleasure – something I WANT to do, rather than something I HAVE to do.  It’s a much happier arrangement.

For me, WHY I do things is a big deal.  If I’m choosing in order to avoid consequences, resentments are frequently part of the mix.  If I’m acting to gain the favor of others, selfishness and insecurity cloud my thoughts.  If I’m protecting my image, I feel separated – an “outsider,” probably unwelcome and unwanted.  But if I’m doing something because it’s part of who I want to be and/or an expression of my faith (a person of character, someone who is kind others and even to myself), then it’s not a hardship.  No resentments.  No agendas.  No feeling like an alien other.  I’m just me, living the life I’m so glad to have been given.

In a perfect world, every single decision I’d make would be that final thing, but the truth is that like most people, I operate out of all of the above.  At 50, the ratio of the freely-me decisions is greater than it once was, but I’m still very much growing.

But there is hope.  After all, look how it worked out with making the bed.







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