When you’ve launched out on your own, you get to reexamine all the rules you grew up with and you get to make up all your own rules. It’s amazing all the decisions you have to make. Is drinking straight from the carton in the refrigerator worth not having to wash the glass now that no one is there to yell at you for it, for example. What is the value in simple, routine habits like making the bed every morning?
I am a woman who makes her bed every morning. It’s a ritual for me that involves airing out the sheets, fluffing the pillows, smoothing the comforter, and neatly folding the blanket that lies across the end of the bed. When I leave my room every morning, the bed is freshly made, and it’s beautiful waiting there for me to return in the evening.
This is a mystery to my college-age daughters, who have unfortunately grown out of the age where I can force them to make their beds before they leave the house. They still live at home – a slightly unusual and rocky arrangement that involves a great deal of communication work on all our parts as we all try together to keep them from amassing large amounts of debt before they earn a degree that will help them start their first ‘real’ jobs. My girls each leave their beds a rumpled composition of last night’s clothes, sprawled cats, school books, and laptops plugged in to charge the battery for the next stint of research for school or a little online TV.
It used to be a mystery to my husband too. When we were only dating, I was pretty convinced he quickly made the bed only when I was going to be there. Turns out, after we got married and shacked up, I figured out I was right. In the beginning, he never made the bed. After awhile, however, he got used to climbing into a neatly made bed every night and he started to enjoy sinking into freshly plumped pillows. He remarked on it one morning, an opening which I’m sure he still regrets because that’s when I chose to spring it on him that the last one out of the bed should make it neatly for the both of us. If memory serves, this is also about the time he started his very early morning workouts. He does make the bed on the weekends, though, so I think he still sees the value.
It’s not a mystery to me, however. When I first launched out on my own, I realized pretty quickly that I had to decide which of the rules from my parents’ home I would keep and which I would toss as irrelevant to me. Making the bed every morning got quickly reinstated the evening I arrived home after getting to work late because I forgot to set my alarm. It was a Monday, go figure. That night, as I came home, late, exhausted and still feeling crabby, off-kilter, and guilty about the start of my day, the bed looked as if someone had been in it. It was a moment slightly reminiscent of the bears who returned to find their beds mussed by Goldilocks, except I had left this mess.
At that moment, I realized that when I come home, I want to come home to a neatly made bed. A made bed is nicer to come home to. It feels like things are going to be OK when the bed is made. Like when you stay over at a hotel and return from a day of exploring, or visiting, or whatever, and your room is picked up and the bed is made. How delicious is that?
Even when my girls were little, we always made our beds before we left the house. With shoes to be found, lunches to be made, cereal to be eaten, a dog to be walked, making the bed often seemed like the one thing we could just forget and deal with later, but no. I insisted that we make the beds each morning before we left the house. There might be laundry on the couch, dishes in the sink, mail in piles, but at least when we came home, we knew our bed would be put together and fresh, ready to welcome us that evening when we were tired from our adventures.
So, I make the bed every single morning. It’s a small effort, but it makes coming home so much nicer. It makes getting sleepy a little easier. Life can be hard and anything we can do to make our own life a little easier is completely worth it to me.
We’ll see if my daughters catch on when they have their own apartments. I’m not holding my breath on that one. 😉