I read once in my first year of parenting that part of caring for yourself as a mom, whose days involve responding to someone else’s needs, was to make the bed each morning. Before doing anything else.
It was a hard concept to grasp. Once my daughter was awake, she required a fresh diaper, a tickle, a song, a meal, and by the time we had crept through each activity and I’d made the coffee and found a CD to fit my morning mood, cleaned the kitchen from its morning chaos, seen our eldest off to school with a packed lunch, fed the dogs, and developed a plan for leaving the apartment, I didn’t WANT to make the bed. But here this book, which mostly seemed full of sound advice, made it sound as if failure to make the bed was failure to care for myself properly, so that until I could spare those three minutes — let the baby cry, skip the counter clearing, go barefoot into the day — I was failing myself and by extension, I was failing my family. I have always been prone to mommy guilt, so I may have read into this advice a slant that wasn’t actually there, but six years later, the advice feels sound.
Now when I walk into the bedroom at the end of each day and see the bed in all its flattened quilt and corner-tucked beauty, I feel a sense of accomplishment, a cleansing peace, because no matter what else happened in the day — power struggles, missed deadlines, slow traffic, writer’s block, tantrums by the young and old, burnt pizza — I had started by taking the time to make things right at home, here in my bedroom, in my own personal space, for myself and for my partner.
What happened between then and now — six years of growing, three house moves, one girl starting elementary school and the other starting college, both moms beginning new careers — what happened in that mix to shift my perspective remains a mystery. Then again, perhaps it is not perspective at all, but only the shape of my days which has changed. Perhaps I was never meant to make the bed until my daughter was seven-years-old and brushing her own teeth.
Whatever the cause of this colossal shift — these days, when I make the bed each morning, I am always happy I did.