I saw a video a while back, a speech that was going viral of an admiral encouraging graduates to make their beds every day. He was very moving, very convincing, he made a lot of sense and roused a sense of excitement for every new day. It was simple – if you make your bed every day, you will have accomplished the first task of the day, have a sense of pride, and could go on to change the world.
I was inspired.
Of all the ways we humans divide ourselves into two camps – political parties, mac vs. pc, north vs. south, Backstreet Boys vs. N*Stink – I had always lived firmly and unapologetically as a member of Team Don’t Make the Bed Except for Special Occasions. Heck, there were plenty of times as a teenager when I plopped into bed with corners of the mattress exposed and sheets crumpled against the wall. I’m an insomniac so I spend a lot of awake time in bed and never paid much attention to how it’s presented, only how comfortable it is and how many potential projects are within reach. I’m a thrasher and a kicker, bless my poor husband, and such a blanket hog that we actually have TWO king size blankets on our queen size bed. I toss and turn and have a pile of mismatched pillows ready to greet me at every twist. To paraphrase, my bed is a mess. Always has been. And my husband is a saint.
It’s not for want of respectable bedding. We have a beautiful linen set with matching throw pillows. It’s fancy and fluffy and inviting, it’s just usually folded up at the foot of the bed.
So when I saw this speech shared again and again, I felt inspired to try something new. I decided to leave behind my slumming ways of slumber and tackle the world one pillow sham at a time. I was going to be a real adult.
So here’s how making my bed every day changed me: it didn’t.
I only made it two days.
Ya’ll, it’s such a waste of time.
Remember in Along Came Polly when Ben Stiller’s character figured up how much time he’d devoted to throw pillows in his lifetime? Waste, ya’ll. I didn’t feel accomplished on those mornings, no more so than I did after a cup of caffeine. And when bedtime rolled around I didn’t feel greeted by a crisp, pristine bed. No, I had to take more time to take those dern pillows off the bed and fold the fancy comforter down.
Besides, within 10 minutes of having made my bed look like a hotel suite fit for royalty, it had a kid on it. Sometimes up to 3 of ’em.
No, ya’ll. I can conquer the world without having to add more tasks that take more time. Why does my room need to be ready for visitors? Ain’t nobody havin’ any business in my bedroom, especially if they’re showing up unannounced. The only people who would be barging into my bedroom unexpectedly would be police officers or EMTs, and if there’s a need for them I sure ain’t worried about these throw pillows on the floor.
Nope. Nuh uh. Not doin’ it. With all due respect to the Admiral I can see how making a bed every morning can set a tone of accomplishment and check a box for some folks, but I’m not one of ’em. I need to worry more about remembering to wear shoes when I leave the house than what my bed looks like while my kids are wrestling on it.
Making my bed for company and holidays adds a stately air to the whole affair, so why would I want that special to wear off? I want my guests to know that if they see my bed made it was for them, I want them to know I took pains to prepare for their visit. See those shams? They mean you’re special, friend. If my pillows match when you visit me it is high praise. But if I’m getting up in the morning that’s task enough, and I’m not making my bed while I could be drinking my sweet tea.
Several months back I was given the INCREDIBLE and humbling opportunity to spend a work weekend with some really amazing ladies, women who I look up to and respect and who have their acts together. I showed up ready to soak up all the wisdom and knowledge I could, making note of everything I could possibly incorporate into my own life and writing.
They all made their beds.
Maybe it was for show. Maybe one of them did it because she’s the type of person who does that kind of thing and everyone else felt kind of guilty about not doing it so they did it, too. Maybe they all felt like they were under the microscope of these successful women and they needed to put their best image out there. Maybe they just were being polite guests. But they all did it. I’ll be honest, I did it, too. Not because I wanted to and not because it made my day start any differently, but because the mountains of blankets stood in stark contrast to the sea of smoothed sheets and I felt exposed for being so slovenly. Ya’ll, it didn’t change me. It didn’t excite me or awaken me or get me going. No more so than sweet tea and rap music, anyway.
I learned nothing from making my bed, apart from the fact that I’m surprisingly passionate about not spending time arranging pillows. I didn’t become a better person and I didn’t see the world anew. I’m not suddenly more efficient and I didn’t remember to put my shoes on before rushing out the door for school pick up. So I’ll keep doing me and you keep doing you, and if you want to fall into bed every night having to search for the sheet you kicked down the night before, go for it. I’ll remain impressed (and slightly intimidated) by those of you who make your bed every morning, and you can fantasize about all the things I’m doing with the extra time I’ve saved not being bothered by those dern throw pillows. And the next time you’re at my house, if you see my bed made, you can puff your chest out and raise your head high knowing that it was all for you.