Order in the Bedroom

Making the bed

My mom knows how to make a bed. She pulls back her covers every morning to let the bed breathe, straightens the bottom sheet, pulls up and straightens the top sheet, does the same for the blanket and then the quilt, folds the top 6-8 inches of the top sheet over the quilt, and finally plumps the pillows and lays them flat beside the headboard.

Mom knows about hospital corners, changing sheets weekly (on Thursdays) and alternating sets. She actually folds that pesky fitted sheet and stacks the just-washed sets in her linen closet for the week. For most of her life, she dried the sheets on the clothesline – we’re talking beds for 7 people – to capture the smell of the outdoors.

Mom even knows proper bed terminology. Thanks to the sisters at St. Joseph Academy in Cleveland, she learned that, rather than make our beds – the manufacturer made the bed – we dress it each day. She took such good care with the dressing that she passed on two sets of sheets from my teen years for my own girls’ beds. I really dug seeing those groovy orange poppies again.

I used to make my bed – when I lived at home, when as an adult my bedroom could be seen by people walking to the bathroom, when I was training my own kids. But over the years, rather than my kids adopting my good habit, I adopted their bad one. When they stopped making their beds, I stopped making mine.

Craig has my equally relaxed approach. He’s not a morning person, so an unmade bed doesn’t even register with him until he’s walked past it a dozen times. That might happen on a Saturday or Sunday, in which case he’ll pull up the covers and toss the pillows toward the headboard. It’s more lumps than plumps, but it works for us.

Until now.

When I make the bed, I think of Mom. She made our quilt for our 20th wedding anniversary.

When I make the bed, I think of Mom. She made our quilt for our 20th wedding anniversary.

While millions of people are resolving this year – or at least the first few weeks of this year – to cut out carbs or blog daily, I’m resolved to make my bed every day, preferably not just before I get back into it each night (although my son-in-law pointed out that, unless it were past midnight, making the bed at bedtime would still qualify as keeping my resolution – I do like that guy).

Why start now? I think it’s a case of the teacher appearing when the student is finally ready. The teacher showed up for me on the pages of Kathleen Norris’ book Acedia & Me, which I began rereading after Christmas. Fittingly, the teacher is her mom. Norris writes:

“I was a bratty kid who didn’t want to make her bed. … To me, the act was stupid repetition; to my mother it was a meaningful expression of hospitality to oneself, and a humble acknowledgement of our creaturely need to make and remake our daily environments. ‘You will feel better,’ she said, ‘if you come home to an orderly room.’”

Her mother was right. My mother was right. It does feel good. And maybe this one orderly act will lead to others. Like putting away my dirty clothes littering the bench at the foot of the bed. I think there’s a little room on the closet floor.

 

To read more about my mom, click here and here.

To read more stories about mothers and what they teach and give us, click the following icon, which will link you to Emily Wierenga’s blog and her Imperfect Prose on Thursdays (she doesn’t like capital letters, but I do):

Comments

  1. Oh Lee, first of all, I LOVE your blog and your art. You are so incredibly gifted. And secondly, I felt convicted by this piece since I rarely make my bed and still have yet to teach my sons how to. :) Bless you.

    • Lee Lueck says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, Emily. For the record, the art is all my husband’s. He is both gifted and hard-working.

  2. I did not know there was proper bed terminology! This was such a fun read. :)

  3. There’s something about the island of openness that is a dressed bed. To me it’s like an uncluttered kitchen counter, a clear desk, a vacuumed rug, each a place for the eye to rest in the landscape of a room. So glad you’ve found this daily practice to celebrate throughout the year!

  4. Ah Lee, wonderful. I am also a ‘make the bed person’ and almost qualify as a ‘dresser’. Recently I read a magazine article about ways to have an orderly house. The author said to begin each day first with the bed. By the time we’ve finished with the bed our mind has become neat and organized as well. Then, looking at the neat bed inspires us to make the rest of the house neat as well. I think that is stretching reality but it gave me a good laugh.

    • Lee Lueck says:

      And I know your daughter also makes her bed each day. Ann and I had coffee last week, and as I was relating my idea for the blog, I could tell she couldn’t relate!

      Turning to the kitchen, I recently heard someone equate cleaning the sink to making the bed. If we scour the sink daily, we might be motivated to keep scrubbing other surfaces. I’m pretty convinced that wouldn’t work for me, but it must work for others.

  5. I have been reading your writings since I got the subscription and have been taking my time before telling you how smooth and graceful the words read in my head. I can hear -not just your voice- but I can hear your pauses and upswept lip to one side occasionally. I miss talking with you and coming to the table in your home. Grateful to you for this website where I can visit you in this way.

    • Lee Lueck says:

      Above all else, I want to trust my voice, be myself. It sounds easy, but it isn’t always. Thanks for the encouragement, Janaree. I hope you know you are welcome back to our table whenever you’re in KC.

  6. Mary Chandler says:

    Once again, you have made Mom a shining star! Bravo! I, too, am a bed making slacker compared to her!

    • Lee Lueck says:

      At least our eldest sister came through with excellent housekeeping habits. In the world of baseball, a .333 average is considered excellent, so Mom can consider herself a winner!

  7. I love the idea that we are not “making our bed”, but dressing our bed. That it’s a part of our getting dressed every morning. And then the Kathleen Norris quote. Perfect. As you know making my bed is a part of my renewed rhythm of this year and I do like walking into and seeing my bedroom “made”. I do feel better.

  8. I’m going back upstairs now to make my bed. :)