If there’s one symbol of the years I’ve been dedicated to motherhood, it’s definitely the sock basket. He sat at a table in the laundry room holding mismatched socks, but it also contained 25 years of mystery and intrigue.
I raised three girls, 18 months apart, so for all intents and purposes I had triplets. These girls had a reason to own dozens of pairs of socks: soccer, cheerleading, and skateboarding socks. They had socks for dates, shoes and sneakers. At any given time, there were at least a hundred pairs of socks moving between my kids’ feet and the laundry room. Only half of them will be able to return to the drawers. The rest went to the sock basket.
That basket became the repository for all my maternal woes. There wasn’t a time when it wasn’t so full of Stockings that they were missing their partners, and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why. Once a week or once a month, my husband and I would sit in front of the TV’s matching socks and on the rare occasion when we found a match, we’d yell (rather competitively) “I found one!” And we were waving the pair up in the air as if we were going to score a touchdown. Sometimes I go into the laundry room and put my head in the sock basket and ask myself how my life got to this point. That was all I had, I wonder? Am I a matching sock?
Other times, disgust turns into intrigue. Where do the other socks go? I’d set out on fruitful quests to find the missing partners, and I ask if I were a sock, where would I hide? I’d find them under beds, in gym bags, in the backseat of our car, entangled in sheets, stuck to shoes. Once when the snow melted I found one in the rose bushes.
I’m not kidding when I say this has been going on for 25 years. Sometimes the pressure of the sock basket becomes excessive and my husband suggests desperate measures. Once we got rid of all the socks we decided to go out and buy just one type of socks for all 3 girls. This worked fine for a while, but before I knew it, old socks were popping up again or new ones popping up, and before long the old sock basket was working again.
One of my daughter’s friends stopped by to visit once and she wouldn’t know it – I had matching socks. She told me that she sometimes found one of my daughter’s socks in her house after bedtime. “AHA!” I said, in my best Inspector Clouseau accent, Part of the puzzle solved! I offered her a basket to collect for me.
When the girls left home to start their own lives, it wasn’t an easy time for me. I missed them more than I’ll admit. We eventually sold their childhood home, and as I was packing up, I came across a lonely, dusty Socks in the most unusual of places. I filled that basket again, as if to collect the past together and try to make sense of it. Where did the time go?
When the moving truck pulled over, there was no sock left in that house. There may have been one in the yard somewhere or stuck in the chimney, but as far as I can tell, the days of matching sock are abruptly over.
You thought I would be happy.
But I wasn’t.
The hassles of parenting are many. Many of them come in the form of little bits: Lego parts, Monopoly coins, mini tears, clips, marbles, and yes, socks. It’s been part of the minutiae of raising our kids for years – inevitable and unavoidable. We take care of these little things as a way of taking care of our children. Ask any parent who’s spent an afternoon looking for a glove at the mall and they’ll tell you it’s true.
My kids came to visit recently. One day, I looked down and noticed that my daughter was wearing mismatched socks. I wandered into the laundry room of my new home with fervent belief that there was still a sock basket.
You never know what things may reach legendary status in a family’s life. For us, it’s a sock basket and that’s okay. It’s a reminder of who we once were, and like a good recipe, I’ll gladly hand it down to the next generation of little feet. For now, it still reminds me that I am someone’s mom.