There are many areas of being the working mother of a large family where I feel like I do a pretty good job. There are others where I fail completely. One of these areas is as Keeper of the Socks. I am completely and totally unable to figure out how to keep up with, sort, and effectively put away the huge numbers of socks that four children require. In fact, at our house, socks rarely get put away at all. Instead they live in permanent chaos in something known without affection as “The Sock Basket.”
(Witness the horror of The Sock Basket, just before J. rummaged for something to keep her feet warm before leaving for school this morning)
The Sock Basket lives in my bedroom, and every morning – once the weather turns cool enough for socks, as it has this week – the children can be found rummaging for socks that match – even sort of match. My point of view is that since no one really sees your socks once they are on your feet and under your shoes, finding an exact match really isn’t necessary. So what if the toe stitching on the right sock varies in color from that of the left sock. Variety is the spice of life! Right, kids??!!
The mismatched socks don’t matter as much these days, when the kids keep their shoes on all day at school, but in years past, when they attended a Montessori school where the children were required to remove their shoes in the classroom, it was a source of constant embarrassment to me. I tried to delude myself that no one really noticed that my kids frequently wore two different socks until one year, when the sweet teacher’s assistant in one of the classrooms presented each of my children with a pair of socks as a holiday gift. The message was clear. She felt sorry for them, and thought that maybe their mother was too mentally incompetent to provide them with properly matched socks.
I have tried, at various times over the years to impose some sort of order on the sock situation in our household. On at least three occasions that I can remember, I have literally dumped the entire contents of The Sock Basket into our large outdoor garbage can, and started fresh by purchasing exactly 10 pairs of identical socks for each child, color coded for easy matching. Surely, I thought to myself, with a reasonable overall number of socks in the household, and with each kid having his or her own color stitching, we can whip this sock problem. But what I found is that The Sock Basket is like its own living ecosystem. Once even a small number of socks end up on the bottom of the basket, its contents begin to grow and spread. Within a month of starting fresh, a huge number of strange socks of all types that I’ve never seen and didn’t buy somehow begin appearing in that damn basket. Resistance is futile. The children are all soon back to rummaging every morning, instead of choosing a neatly folded pair from the sock drawers in their bedrooms.
Baby socks are, of course, the worst. They are tiny and evil, and they love to separate themselves in the wash, meaning that since the latest member of our family arrived 14 months ago, we now have a large number of wee and useless singleton sockettes living in The Basket. I try to avoid socks altogether with C. leaving her barefoot whenever possible, and dressing her in tights the rest of the time. But now that she’s running all over the place, there’s no avoiding the headache of those teensy socks altogether. Just last week, I broke down and bought her 12 pairs of socks from Old Navy, all exactly the same style, and in only two colors. Eternal optimist that I am, I hope the simplicity of my baby footwear plan will prevent problems, but just this morning, I noticed that we already have two of the new baby socks in The Basket – each in a different color.
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