Making the bed shortly after getting up to greet the day is an activity I enjoy.
It centers me, grounds me and gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Even before walking out of my home to keep checking off the day's to do list, I've snapped the sheets and watched them waft as they envelop the mattress, the place that supports my body nightly as it rests and recharges from a hustle and bustle world.
As I discuss domestic engineering with friends, it seems making the bed is a subject where we split the sheets: some do not enjoy the task or consider making the bed a necessity on that daily to do list, while others make the bed daily out of duty and drudgery. A third camp delights and luxuriates in making the bed.
Put me in the category of delight.
Perhaps my enjoyment of this activity goes back to my childhood and my mother's perspective on bed making.
Momma stayed home with her children to take care of us and our home.
She was fastidious, clean and our home was well cared for and well appointed.
Obviously, she made the beds in our home daily, and I began helping her in these and other housekeeping tasks.
My mother's viewpoint was if a bed was made daily, it fostered an orderly and visually appealing bedroom. Also, she believed that a well-made bed invited, enhanced and enabled slumber when it was time for Mr. Sandman to visit us each night.
I fondly recall standing on the other side of the beds helping her by pulling my corner of the fitted sheet off the bed and shaking it vigorously before affixing it back on the mattress corner. The fitted sheet, regardless of its color or design, is the base of the blank canvas, also known as a mattress.
Yes, to my mother, bed making was an art, an extension and expression of love for her family. She wanted to provide us with the best place and circumstances to live in during the day and sleep in each night.
The fitted sheet moved up and down like mountain peaks as we shook our arms. This sight, accompanied by the snapping sound, were enjoyable. We would often laugh excitedly and talk as we both enjoyed this step of bed making.
Once the fitted sheets was re-affixed to the bed, we'd lift the flat sheet high in the air and watch it gently and gracefully fall onto the fitted sheet. Next, came the lifting the bottom of the mattress and folding in the bottom of the flat sheet between the box springs and the mattress
This was followed by what my husband and I now call the "Sue and Pauline step" as both our mothers did the hospital corners step to make for a uniform look where the end and side of the mattress intersected.
If it was winter, an electric or thermal blanket was normally the next layer, creating and reinforcing that feeling of warmth and security when pulling the covers over our bodies at night.
Next came the quilt, made by grandmother and several women I knew in our community. Each stitch among that sewing circle was an act of love and enjoyment, literally providing comfort to others with their handiwork.
The quilts, because of my love for color combinations and bright patterns, were and still are my favorite layer. I suspect they are my favorites because I've always admired the art of quilt making, but never quite mastered it.
But I digress, that's another subject entirely.
My mother and I would stand at the foot of the bed once it was properly attired. She always gave a gentle nod of her head with a smile on her face as her arms were akimbo or folded.
"That'll do it," she said, pride in her voice.
It was the layering, the warmth, the security and the anticipation of her family's enjoyment when nuzzling under the orderly covers each night that made her feel accomplished.
As an adult, I want my family to feel that same warmth, extension and expression of my love. Their security, peace of mind and enjoyment of a good night's sleep inspire me.
But, it seems getting that good night's sleep in recent years is more complicated and challenging than ever before.
The digital age disrupts our circadian cycle with 24/7, 365 access to screens displaying a constant stream of information competing for our time of rest and rejuvenation.
Through the years, I've read stories about sleep hygiene. You know, don't work on a laptop in bed or pay bills in bed.
According to the articles devoted to improving your sleep cycle, the bedroom should be the haven away from the day's drudgery and duties, and the we should divorce our devices about 30 to 90 minutes before going to bed.
The internet was not part of our daily lives when I started helping my mother make beds. She died early in my adult life and in addition to bringing happy memories of her, making the bed has a calming and intentional effect on me.
It helps me smooth out my mental wrinkles and preoccupations, and it offers a fresh start to the day. I've made something right and well and when I come back to it hours later, it is neat and inviting instead of unmade with bumps, wads, and lumps.
To me at least, getting into an unmade bed is akin to bathing in dirty water.
My body and psyche know the difference between spreading up the covers and completely making the bed.
Many say sleep in our society has a big PR problem ... many of us view sleep as a luxury rather than a necessity.
Sleep, however, is almost as essential as breathing. Our brains, our bodies and our immune system greatly benefit from a good night's sleep.
A made bed is an optimal visual cue that prepares our minds and bodies for the rest it needs.
So, don't spit the sheets. Instead, get a unified, cohesive and well covered plan as in the early days of this new year.
Make your bed neat and tidy each day so you will rest well at night.