After years of nagging them, the other day I finally took the time to show my sons the actual steps it takes to make their bed. Predictably, my eight-year old popped the question which endlessly bewilders all human males regarding this most counter-intuitive daily chore: “butBaba, WHY should I make my bed?” Preceded by a long empathetic sigh, this daddy spelled out his fully confident, years-in-the-making answer: “Because son, I do it every morning and I know it makes your mother happy, so you have a choice to make her happy now and also one day make your wife happy too.”
Making my bed makes Mama happy?? –his innocent eyes stared up at me.
“I’m not going to lie to you son,” I explained with my eyes locked squarely at his, “you and I know totally well that making our bed each morning makes entirely no sense because we just mess it up each evening anyway.” Come on folks, my fatherly credibility was on the line here, and besides, who are we kidding — we all know there is just simply no way around the self-evident truth that bed-making is indeed senseless.
So in the spirit of spilling the entire truth, I went on to tell my son exactly how I came to know that making my bed is simply the right thing to do despite its innate counter-intuitiveness. You see, years ago when I was barely married 2 young years, there was a kind woman I worked with named Carol. Unlike most of my other female coworkers with endless complaints about their men, Carol regularly made endearing comments about her husband Mark. One particular morning Carol was beaming as she exclaimed how lucky she was to be married to Mark. Her response to this inquisitive young husband was, a resoundingly simple, “he makes our bed each morning.” Just like my son today, I couldn’t but help to think, wow what a silly woman whose happiness derives from such a petty thing. As I reflected more deeply, it dawned on me how easy this husband gig must actually be if something as simple as making the bed engenders wifely happiness. Cheaper than jewelry that goes out of fashion or a dozen roses that wilt in a week, these brownie points renew daily—an easy sell that I quickly put into action. Ever since Carol’s unsolicited advice, I have never been nagged to make our bed in over two decades of marriage –and all it took was a little listening on my part.
Much like Carol and Mark I suspect, the love my wife and I share is far more profound than whether or not the beds are made. Quite truthfully it turns out, my wife neither wigs out if the beds at home are not made, nor is she rocketed onto cloud-9 when they are made. It also turns out that you really can have the best of both: the temporary pleasure of a nicely made bed and lifelong endearment that grows from the gesture.
So dear son, while it is remains eternally futile to make sense of bed-making, it is always worthy to learn what makes someone else happy — and then simply do it. And in case you are selfish like me, that happiness soon circles back at you many-fold.
As a boy Yaman Kahf never knew exactly what he wanted to “be” other than being a father. He migrated to the US as an infant with his parents and is the second eldest of 7 siblings –growing up in Utah, Indiana, and New Jersey before settling in southern California with his wife and three boys. Career and college degrees pale in comparison to the accomplishments, joy, and education from life with three boys.