Last night while my hubby and I were watching House of Cards (we are only on episode 5 in the new season, so no spoiler comments please!), there was a very brief scene showing Frank and Claire, in their oh-so-dysfunctional-way, going through their before-bedtime routine. It made me think of a great scene in the old movie Sleepless in Seattle, where Meg Ryan’s and Bill Pullman’s characters are very methodically going through their preparing-for-bed process. The song playing in the background is “Making Whoopee”, while they act like a stereotypical old married couple, going through their usual paces, not even speaking, before calling it a night.
We are all creatures of habit, and we all have certain routines we go through without even thinking about it – especially at the end of the day as we prepare for bed. The steps we take become ritualistic. Mess with the process, and our whole night’s rhythm can be thrown off.
In our house, when my husband is ready for bed, he heads upstairs. Like a typical real woman, that is my cue to make my last rounds. I get the dog out for his last pee stop, blow out the kitchen candle, do any last chores like switching laundry into the dryer, confirm that the doors are locked, shut off the lights, make sure the garage door is down, and check on our son.
But that’s just the start of the ritual. By the time I get upstairs, my husband is usually already in bed, either asleep, watching TV, reading, or getting his last Facebook update. Once I’m finally ready to truly get prepared for bed, I have a 7-step process, which I do in the same order, every night, without fail. (Don’t laugh, I know you all have your own procedures too. ) I brush teeth, floss, take my medication, wash my face, brush out my hair, pee, and moisturize. I never leave a step out. Unless, of course, there is an issue like I’ve run out of floss. Since I’m a bit fanatical about my dental care, that throws me off, and I just don’t feel right. It ruins my whole bedtime feng shui. So you can bet there’s always a spare roll of floss in the drawer. Don’t mess with my routine.
Of course, once we actually climb into bed, there are other routines – like reading, tv watching, and… um, other activities. Which can also follow a certain routine. But I’m not going down that road here, because this isn’t that kind of blog. (sorry).
So we all have our rituals — our regular, every day processes. Does this mean that we are boring? We lack excitement? We are robots? On the contrary. We spend the majority of our days reacting, rushing, worrying, deciding, hurrying and solving. We need our moments when we don’t have to think. When we don’t have to hurry. There is comfort in the routine, there is a calm in the mundane. It is our way of letting our brains and our bodies prepare for shut down.
It is easy to take our daily routines for granted, and not give them a second thought. But in a world that is too often in chaos, too often in the grips of fear or loss, when so many are battling illnesses or disabilities, or God Forbid, falling victim to atrocities, we need to embrace “boring.” Let’s be thankful for even the little things. Tonight, when I retrace the same steps I take every night, when I kiss my son’s head, when I get ready in a clean and well lit bathroom, when I happily use my floss, and when I get to crawl under the covers in my comfy bed, I will be thankful for what I can do, and what I have.
Even if it is just a silly routine.
Amen. The comfort of a ritual routine that can be done robotically, is sometimes the only thing that keeps us sane in the crazy world around us. Thanks for making me feel human.
There has been some writing about the power of routine for freeing up the brain for more important matters. I have read that our president wears the same color tie every day, and other routine matters, so that there is more space and brain cell capacity for all the important stuff. It is funny to me though how unsettling a slight change in routine can be (as you said with running out of floss); horrors!
Interesting…. although I think I’d rather use routine to free up my brain for…nothing! How often do we get to do that? 🙂