I used to subscribe to Real Simple magazine. They have an “Expertise” column that I made a point reading every month. In their October issue, they featured a column on “rituals that will improve your day.” While I think their suggestions are all fine ones, I immediately thought of my mother when I read the column and I thought she would have considered these rituals conceptually flawed. In order to enjoy these rituals and savor them, my mother would have wanted to insert a claim about planning. My mother has always stressed the importance of planning for peace. Without planning, life is harried. Planning for the breakfast you will eat everyday would be included in how my mother would have written this ritual. Planning time to savor one’s coffee would have been a must for her.

When I was a child, my mother ironed all of my white and blue blouses for school until I was old enough to iron them myself. She sent my plaid pleated Catholic school jumper or skirt to be laundered once a week. Though I resented having this chore when I was a child, the process of ironing my clothes for the week was something that I continued through college. So as much as I disliked it, I came to understand the importance of planning ahead and eliminating work that I am certain to confront in the future.

If my mother were to have coffee every morning, she would prepare the coffeepot the night before and set aside the mug with the sugar already in it. She does this for me when she visits. Though I am a tea drinker, she always places a tea bag inside the mug so that I will only need to boil the water when I’m ready.

I used to like “Manic Monday,” the song that Prince wrote for the Bangles in 1986. When I was in high school our SGA representatives would play it over the P.A. system; they played Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry be Happy” on subsequent days. Now when I think about “Manic Monday,” I think about how little sympathy my mother would have for those “manic” young women. “If they only did what they needed to do on Sunday, they wouldn’t have that problem,” my mother might say.

If you want to improve your day, any one of them, my mother would suggest beginning at least a day ahead. So in honor of her, I need to go and iron my clothes for the week.

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