Hissy Fit - October 2023 - Make Your Bed: Change the World

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


October 2023 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

If you want to fight like a girl, make up a bed with my mother.
I guarantee you’ll lose.

I also guarantee if you can make a bed to her standards,
you won’t have a bit of trouble in bootcamp out on Parris Island.
Even Mom's older sister, who can be bossy, won’t make a bed with her.

Mom is 92 years old, so needless to say she has no option but to be old-school. But I have to admit, I like some of her old-school, exactitude ways, and making a bed to perfection is one of them.

Mom went to nursing school at the Baptist Hospital in Columbia, SC, in 1949, when student nurses, who were all women at the time, lived in a dormitory with a house mother. Mom has referenced Nanny Eidsen, her house mother, numerous times throughout my life. Nanny made an impact on the young students, who were experiencing independence from home for the first time, making sure lights were out every night exactly at 10 p.m. She also made sure the girls’ kept their rooms straight with beds made daily.

“We were on fifth floor, and we would go in the hall at nighttime and do handstands and flips. Right before 10, we would hear the elevator coming up and all run to our rooms. Sometimes, after 10, I would sit in the closet, door closed and light on, to study. Nanny never knew.”

However, Nanny knew if their beds were made. Making beds was a daily chore for nursing students. Donned in their pristinely pressed, white uniform dresses, white stockings, white shoes and white nursing caps, they each had to make up eight to 12 beds a day at the hospital with crisp, white, freshly laundered sheets.

“They didn’t teach us a certain way to make the beds, so I made them the way I like mine: No wrinkles; the top sheet even with the head of the mattress, and squared, tucked-in corners. You really should always do your best no matter what you’re doing. It takes longer to redo something than to just do it right the first time,” Mom said, and don’t think I haven’t heard that a million times.

Whether you call it perfectionism, or just knowing what you want, this bed making precision has passed down two more generations. Not only do I make a perfect bed, the only people other than Mom willing to make a bed with me, are my children. Both of them are also afflicted with perfect bed making syndrome, which comes with a side-effect of folding sheets perfectly, too, even the fitted ones. (I don’t have much to make people jealous, but my linen closet, though small, is a masterpiece.)

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m dedicating an entire article to the menial task of making the bed, which I hope you do every day. Mom still swears: “If you make your bed, it will make the whole room look neat.” I assume it’s fair game to write a measly 800 words on bed making when Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven wrote an entire book entitled, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World.

The catalyst for this article was yet another worrisome, doom and gloom social media post asking if people still use a top sheet on their bed. What? Who wouldn’t use a top sheet? When I told Mom this, she said, “Well, that’s crazy. I sleep under the sheet until I get cold, and then I pull up my blanket or bedspread to get warm. Why not have the sheet? You’re messing up your bedspread. That’s dirty.”

This is another fatality credited to the “minimal effort” crowd, which is the crux of this Hissy Fit! Why must everything be short cut these days? Why are people satisfied with half-assery? It all starts with eliminating the top sheet and goes down hill from there. Next thing you know, people are wearing yoga pants to church, parents are doing their children’s homework, and grown men are having a problem leaving home to go to work.

Where have our standards gone? I want them back! Cutting corners always produces the same disappointing result—mediocrity. And mediocrity is a slippery slope to a cut-rate existence filled with apathy, complacency and elusive satisfaction.

So, Yes! Make your bed every day, and do it right. A sense of accomplishment ignites the human psyche—even little things are motivating! And, like best-selling author Admiral McRaven said: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”