To All a Good Night

When my husband and I started dating I warned him before visiting my parents’ home the first time that “My mother is very clean.” We arrived at the house before Mom and Dad returned for the day, and for fun, Ken tore off a piece of white paper towel from the kitchen counter, then wiped it across the top of the molding above the dining-room door.

He promptly removed his shoes.

I was pushing a vacuum when the upright Hoover was taller than I was. If we ran the faucet in the kitchen sink after dinner had been cleaned up, we were to wipe out the watermarks with a towel designated for that purpose only. And we did not leave for school until we’d made our beds.

Making the bed is something I have done every morning of my life (except for days when I stayed there due to illness). If you sleep at my sister’s house and need to use the bathroom after dawn, the joke is she’ll make the bed before you’ve had a chance to flush. That’s how we are programmed, thanks to the motherboard. Pun intended.

My husband stopped asking me long ago why we need to make the bed if we’re getting back into it at night. After all, he had administered the paper-towel test. To children I’ve replied, “Because it looks nice.” That never works. “Because the sheets get dusty.” That sometimes works; though, generally, kids don’t care about dirt. “Because the cat will lie on your pillow all day and you’ll choke on her fur in your sleep.” Scare tactics do work, although the reality is cats burrow there anyway.

However, there’s another reason I make the bed that has nothing to do with orderliness, cleanliness or avoiding asphyxiation. Instead of feeling like I’m on a treadmill in the continuum of crawling in and out of a pile of cotton and quilt, pulling back the bedspread is an act of closure to another day of work, of family, of chores, of successes and disappointments. And in the morning, when I neaten the covers and punch the pillows back into place, in what has become more of a ritual, I get to start all over again. Kind of like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

So as the year draws to a close, some may want to run the metaphoric vacuum, others wipe out their symbolic sink. Me, I want to pull back the covers on the bed I not only made for myself, but have lain in all year. And come “morning,” I will smooth out the folds and wrinkles and start all over again.

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