The Top Sheet Misdirection

This is a blog post about creativity and motherhood and writing and the top sheet.

Nobody told me about the top sheet.


In the movie of my life, the camera focuses in tight on my stricken face as I shake my fists in all four directions so as not to inadvertently miss anyone and holler, “WHY?!?!?”  The camera pulls back, fast, from my face to my house to my county, state, and finally a view of Earth from space, my barbaric yawp resounding through the cosmos and causing UFOs to crash into each other, inadvertently foiling the aliens’ plans for universal domination.

I’m seriously upset about the top sheet.

Who knew you didn’t have to use the top sheet on your kid’s bed?  I mean, it comes with the bottom sheet and the pillowcase, all neatly folded and packaged, just begging to be hospital-cornered down.  Its very presence is an instruction:  PUT ME ON THE BED ALREADYThey’re there.  Like stop signs and Legos on the carpet and a kid yelling “I gotta pee!!” from the back seat and other things you ignore at your own peril.

Despite this rant, I occasionally have to grudgingly admit that I learned something from a magazine.  Even a parenting ‘zine.  I feel betrayed.  I had to learn this from a freakin’ magazine, people.  Not from a beloved friend or family member.  No one was there to soften the blow, to answer my questions, to hug me and tell me it’s all going to be okay now.

For five thousand years of motherhood, I have been stripping wet sheets–top and bottom–from boy-beds in the wee, small, groggy, soul-destroying, human decency-eroding hours of the morning.  FIVE THOUSAND YEARS.  Yes, I am shouting, because I am thirty-six and I have been a mommy now for FIVE THOUSAND YEARS, and there is so much noise around here that my sense of volume control is GONE.

Because I have not slept in FIVE THOUSAND YEARS, I think I should be forgiven for my complete lack of creativity in this matter.  I mean, sure, on some deep, primal level–the dark little corner of my subconscious that is still a little uneasy about saber-toothed tigers and thinks that clubs are a pretty darn elegant way to settle an argument–I knew.  I knew that my kids did not appreciate such civilized niceties as thread count and pima cotton, just as they do not appreciate such niceties as kleenex and inside voices and the fact that fratricide is a crime.  And top sheets.  But I was not thinking outside the box-spring.

And there’s the real rub of the Top Sheet Misdirection (yes, Big Bang Theory writers, you can have that, but I want Jim Parsons to autograph my t-shirt folder).  It was so obvious–buy and store and wash and fold half the amount of nasty kid sheet laundry.

A friend of mine just posted a link to this article on DaVinci and how he was always thinking outside the box.  I read it and thought, “Oh, I’m creative like that.  Maybe not Mona Lisa-creative, but still.  I write stuff.  I mean, I can hardly sneeze without having some kind of existential crisis.  I’m deep, man.”  Ha.  From “curiosity” to “making connections,” my Top Sheet Misdirection taunts me with the suggestion that I may never design a flying machine or become Florence’s strongest man.

All of this makes me wonder–what am I missing in my own writing?  In my creativity in general, and even in my life?  Where am I stuck firmly inside the box, so squarely on the inside that I’m not even aware of the six corrugated walls around me?  What top sheetless brilliance hovers just beyond the sleep-deprived haze of my imagination, waiting for me to seize onto it to make my world a better place?