Subject:            Jackie Stricker-- The day I made my bed



The Day I Made My Bed


"Jackie, we need to talk."

Those five dreaded words that you hear from your mother are not exactly what you want to wake up to in the morning.

"Okay Mom, I can fit you in between changing the fish's water and basketball practice. Somewhere between 5:15 and 5:18 tonight. Will that work?"

"No€¦right now will do. Get in here. SIT! LISTEN!"

"We've talked about this 15 times since school started this year. I'm not the maid service and this is not the Plaza. You make your bed every morning in this house. Clean clothing gets put away, dirty laundry goes in the hamper. Got it?"

"Yes mom, I got it."

I grab my bags and run off to school because I'm a few minutes behind schedule, as usual. As I bolt into the front door of school, and the bells about to ring, a stunning thought hits me and stop in my tracks. I told my Mom "I got it", but then I didn't make my bed! I've probably lived through this scenario fifty times a year every year since I have been eight years old. But suddenly today, on this very day, a cloud covered, cool morning in late October, it hit me like lightening. I really didn't make my bed.

Listen, I'm a very decent kid as far as kids go. I'm pretty neat, fairly well organized and I always get my stuff done. I get good grades, all my parents' friends love me and I even get along with my brother and sister. So what's up with this bed thing? I had always thought to myself "Whether I make my bed or I don't make my bed, there would still be children going to bed hungry tonight. Weather patterns will remain unchanged in the Antarctic and George Bush will still be president when I wake up. In short, the world will continue to spin in the same direction as it always has."

So today I ask myself "Why does this bed issue matter so much?" Let's look at the bed. What is it really? A mattress, a sheet, a blanket, a couple of pillows, not much really. And yet this bed is the major focus of my relationship with my mother. I'm thinking, this must be some bed. I don't really use it a lot. Sure I get into it every night, yes its comfy and yet I get out of it every morning. But to tell you the truth it is of no matter to me whether or not the sheets are assembled or disassembled as I climb into it.

I've been asking these questions of myself as long as I can remember. And the answer has always been the same, it doesn't matter a bit. But today, it hit me. Like twelve tons of down feathers. This bed really does matter.

You see it's not really about the bed. It isn't about the sheets or the pillowcases or the blanket. What it is about is respect. Yes, respect. The most important word in the English language.

I finally realized on this non-descript grey day that if I make my bed, even though it doesn't matter to me, but if I just make it to do nothing else but make my Mom smile then I'll have done something good.

I absolutely can't wait to go home on this day after school. I darted the whole way home. Breathless, puffing, sweating a bit, I bound up my stairs two at a time. I fling open the door to my room and see the beauteous site of my unmade bed. In thirty seconds flat I've got the cover flattened properly and the colorful pillows neatly arranged one behind the other. I take two steps back to admire the new view. It felt as if I'd just completed a marathon.

"Wow! What a magnificent site. My bed. Beautifully made by none other than me. I did this.  And it is wonderful."

At 4:30 that afternoon my Mom comes home from work. She walks up the stairs to find me at my computer doing my homework as usual. She takes a look at the bed, looks at me, looks back to the bed then back at me and says, "Wow, you're the greatest. Thanks."

She fairly floated up the stairs to her room. And the smile on her face said "I finally did it. I got through to my daughter. She understands me."

You see the act of making my bed was really so much more than just making my bed. What I had really done was I told my mother that I had joined the world of the grown-up. In some small but important way I had announced my arrival into the world of the responsible ones. I realized that small things matter to others even of they don't really matter to me.  Believe it or not, and laugh if you like, but I really and truly believe this. I made my bed today and it made all the difference.

The next morning I opened the door to my little sisters room and I looked her straight in the eye and said to her, "Don't forget to make your bed."

She shot back without hesitating, "Why? You don't."

And I paused and said to her gently but with pride, "You're right, I didn't make my bed until yesterday. But I do now. And I will everyday. It just feels good. You should give it a whirl."

One day I know she will too.