I have spent this past month moving through the house, room by room, tackling the clutter and the odd jobs that had built up in the previous 11 months.
I culled two boxes’ worth of old paperwork in the office.
I recaulked the tubs in the bathrooms.
I put away the stack of stuff that had been piled on the chair in the bedroom for I don’t know how long.
I am seriously considering organizing the junk drawer in the kitchen.
If you catch me standing, unmoving, in the middle of the living room, staring blankly into space, don’t worry. I’m just rearranging the furniture in my head.
I daydream of rooms where there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place.
And then I snap out of it and realize that’s only a pipe dream. Not just because I have children. Because I have always been, and always will be, a haphazard housekeeper.
Look closely at any of the snapshots from my life, and there will likely be a pile of books or newspapers stacked against the wall in the background.
All of my failings as a housekeeper can be summed up thusly:
I cannot fold a fitted sheet.
My mother could fold a fitted sheet. (She also kept an immaculate house.)
She could take a fitted sheet and fold it perfectly square and smooth, then stack it neatly in the linen closet.
I don’t even have a linen closet.
I’ve given up on trying to fold the fitted sheets. I just bundle them up into manageably sized balls.
I am not the only one frustrated by fitted sheets. There’s a list making the rounds on Facebook of “23 Adult Truths,” which includes:
• “I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.”
• “Was learning cursive really necessary?”
• “How on earth are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?”
Nonetheless, I still aspire to neatly folded sheets. There is a book I love called Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson.
You know how some people hate to cook but love to read cookbooks? That’s how I am with this book. It’s 884 pages of tips on whatever questions I’m able to come up with: how to stock a pantry … how to get gum out of fabric … how to dust a hardwood floor … how to fit a comforter inside a comforter cover … how to fold a fitted sheet.
“To fold a fitted sheet, have the wrong side of the center of the sheet and the right side of the fitted corners facing you. Fold the sheet in half crosswise, tucking the top fitted corners into the bottom fitted corners. Fold in half lengthwise, so that all the fitted corners are in a stack. Now simply fold the sheet in half three more times – once along the length and twice crosswise. This makes a neatly folded fitted sheet of approximately the same size as the folded flat sheet.”
You know what? Maybe life is too short to have neatly folded sheets. I think instead I should go read one of those books from that stack in the corner.