What do I do with all the mismatched socks?

In every relationship, there is a Sweeper and a Sorter. When tidying, the Sweeper relocates items from one visible location to one less-visible location. That’s my husband. He’s an efficient and quick cleaner. The counters will be clear; just ignore the fact that we now have three junk drawers.

On the other hand, I am a Sorter. I take a simple cleaning task and it snowballs into an afternoon project. I may have intended to put away laundry, but two hours later I’m sitting outside the linen closet, surrounded by piles. I will have refolded the towels, moved the sheets to a new shelf, and posted pictures on my local Buy Nothing page. The rest of the house will be a wreck, but the linen closet will be a masterpiece.

a photo of a sockSuffice to say, sometimes the Sweepers have the right idea.

For example, let’s say a load of laundry produces a loose sock. A Sweeper may toss it in a drawer and voila — laundry is done! When I fold laundry, loose socks go into a separate bag. I sporadically pair off loose socks until the bag is empty.

Here’s my problem: The – bag – is – never – empty.

As much as I love the satisfaction of a neatly organized space, there are some projects that are never finished. There are an appalling number of loose socks in our house. I find socks in the car, under couch cushions, and jammed between beds and the wall. During a recent tidying/sorting session, I stared down the contents of three separate bags of mismatched socks. Three! All colors of the rainbow, some were going back to toddler and infant sizes. My kids are currently 6 and 8 years old.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to accept defeat. There’s a part of me that wants to give up, toss the bags in the trash and move on with my life. But there’s a larger, more annoying, part of me that wonders if I’ll find the matching socks tomorrow.

It’s ridiculous. I know this. You know this.

I might need a friend to tell me they are giving the socks to a sock puppet farm where they will be happy.

I’ve unwittingly amassed this collection because it offers the illusion of control. In this chaotic world, I stubbornly refuse to admit I have no control over socks. I have to draw the line somewhere. It’s my small irrational act of resistance.

One day I’ll give up on this Sisyphean task and accept that failure was inevitable. I’ll move on to bigger problems and forget my nemesis was once a cotton blend with a reinforced heel. But today is not that day.

Susie is a mom of two, book-lover and frequent challah baker. In addition to working at The University of Iowa, Susie is a PTA volunteer and sorority advisor. She loves date nights in the Ped Mall, catching a show at the Englert, and most of all, cuddling her family on the couch.


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