Making the Bed

When Matt and I decided to move in together, one of our friends who had recently moved in with his fiance told us to, “pick you battles. You will find things that annoy you about each other, but don’t raise concerns about all of them. Pick the ones that are the most important to you.” When Matt and I started the discussions about things that were important to us, I told him that making the bed every day is something that is important to me. Even when I was waking up at 5:30am in college for swimming, I made my bed before heading out the door and down to the pool. His response was something like, “yeah, I don’t care about that, so it isn’t happening.” I decided this was a battle I was willing to pick.

We made a deal that who ever woke up last had to make the bed. Since I have to be at work earlier than he does, this is more often than not him. To ease his pain, I made him a deal and said that he could take Fridays off. Everyday Monday-Thursday when I come home from work, the bed is made and I am happy. Every Friday when I come home, the bed is unmade and I am even happier. I told Matt this one day and he didn’t understand. I explained it by saying that since not once has he forgot, and accidentally made the bed on a Friday, it shows me just how much he doesn’t want to do it. But every Monday – Thursday, he does. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

I have always struggled to articulate my reasons for needing the bed made. However, the other day as I was reading my Real Simple Magazine, I came across an article that explained it perfectly:

“Making the Bed”, by Isabel Gillies

The simplest, most satisfying activity I do all  day is make my bed, In seven minutes or less, I accomplish something small but worthwhile. I give myself a new beginning.

On a morning of chaos, children hollering, misplaced homework, and a husband looking for clean socks, it’s the clam in a storm, I love the physical, methodical act of tugging sheets and plumping pillows. I sense my jumbled thoughts being sorted as I exact the length of the blanket along the horizon of the bed. If I am anxious, stretching my arms wide and lifting the sheets high in the air releases some of the unease into the universe along with the eyelashes and the lint. It’s organizing in the most gentle of ways.

Life is hard sometimes – hard for everyone differently, but hard. For me, there are intricate blended-family calisthenics, concerns about overcrowding in my kid’s school, money worries, children worries, parent worries, and wrinkles in weird places. It can be overwhelming, but I find making the bed is a good first step to getting a handle on it all. Being a mother and a wife, a writer and an actress, is wonderful, really wonderful, but I don’t know that I do it right all the time.  I make mistakes, feel in search of our-of-reach answers; but I can assemble something that has been dismantled, straighten what has been undone. When I make the bed, I am caring for something important to me and my husband (and sometimes, in the middle of the night, a child). A made bed is good to come home to. It says to the world and, more importantly, to you, “I am not unhinged.”

It’s never too late to make the bed. If  it doesn’t get done at 7:45am because I had to start over with the eggs or I slept a little too long, it will still be there later in the afternoon. Sometimes I make the bed 15 minutes before I get in it.

And, inevitably, while I consider if the sheet is on the correct side or pull out a down feather that has poked through the case, there is a moment when it strikes me how lucky I am to have a bed.