Sockmaggedon 2015

Jun 03

My family has a long history with laundry.  One of the first chores I remember doing was matching socks as they came out of the dryer.  Later that job would get passed on to my sisters as I became folder of all things square and rectangular, gradually increasing in difficulty until, eventually, I became a t-shirt folder.  To this day, I fold Brad’s shirts the way his mom folds them (in half widthwise, sleeves together folded under, then in half lengthwise), and my shirts the way my mom folds them (in thirds widthwise so the sleeves tuck behind the front, then in half lengthwise).  I do it without thinking, and only in typing this entry to I realize how bizarre it probably is to have his and hers folding methods.  Brad and I both just like things the way we like them, okay?  Our marriage rocks.

A few months ago, I had what I thought was an epiphany: I could stop folding the socks as I’m doing laundry, and they could become Maren’s job.  I could just put all the socks in a small basket, and she could fold when she got home from school!  Brilliant!  This would probably save three-and-half minutes per load of laundry, times seven loads a week: I just gained myself  almost a half-hour a week!  In a comical series of sock basket misplacement, 7-year-old attention spans, a well-intentioned goddess of laundry with no follow-through, we have — essentially — a sock disaster.

No one has folded socks in this house since March.

Brad has adjusted to this the best since the “pick through the basket in the morning before work” method was the same one he employed when I met him over twelve years ago.  Greta doesn’t care about matching (she cares about “fabulousness”, an elusive concept to define), and Maren strategically matched Maren socks first each time she re-committed to her task over the past weeks.

Maybe I should have given Maren a title: Goddess of Socks, FootGirl, Sock Meister?

Until today, when I went around the family room and picked them all up, there were roughly one-hundred socks strewn about the room.  Maren had tried to sort and match, and her strategy involved a lot of square-footage.  Brad sideswiped a sizable contingent when sat on the couch with no apparent regard that there may be a methodology to our sock madness.  Greta found her “matched and folded” pile and promptly unfolded and tried them all on.  (So Greta, right?!)  Poor Maren saw what Brad and Greta had done to her “work” and the look on her face was what told me that my sockxperiment was a failure.

So, I have set aside my small sock basket (permanent retirement) and now have a heaping large laundry basket full of unmatched socks.

I intended to turn on a show tonight (thanks for the recommendations!) and match and sort, but Brad and I had a two hour conversation on schools, eduction, intelligence, and learning after he attended a school district meeting tonight.

Bring on the flip-flops, I say!

A few people have been asking “what can I do in the funk?”  A friend brought over an extra yummy cookie this weekend when she knew I was funky and home alone–“Just little something to show I’ve been thinking of you,” she said.  My mailbox has had some rad packages this season.  My mom and dad have had the girls over for two (2!) sleepovers both because they love our girls and also because they are trying to help me be the best version of me.  Village folk have been opening doors for carpool and playdates.

As I looked at the giant basket of socks, I thought about out-sourcing it.  I immediately rejected the idea because that’s so weird, to have someone fold (almost all of our) socks.  For one thing, they would learn that Brad and I both wear “extended sizes”; he’s a men’s 14 and I’m a ladies 10.  (And yes, we fear we will be special-ordering shoes for our girls by the time they hit high school.  Maren’s already a 3, and Greta is hovering between 11 and 12.)  The truth of the sock situation is that it takes too much mental analysis for me to assess whether this is a good or a bad investment of time.  For me or for “you”?  If I were to put the basket on the back porch there are multiple horrifying scenarios: tires would squeal throughout our ‘hood as neighbors raced for it out of a strong desire to do something helpful, or everyone would think “that’s weird’ and my socks would sit there for days.  Awkward, needy, pitiful: these are qualities I try to avoid.

So I guess what I’m saying is Thank You to the folks who are do-ers and actionable in the lives of myself and others like me.  What is the word for what I am?  “Hardship”?  “Sick”?  “Chronically ill?”  “Hurting”?  That last one probably works best, but it doesn’t fit for two big reasons.  One, “hurting” is hardly the word I’d use to describe my life, and two, aren’t we all?

It is incredibly hard for me to assess what our needs are; that has been the case since very early on when I was diagnosed.  Brad and I never, ever feel needy.  We do, however, feel a remarkable BAMBOOZLING of love from the creative and interesting ways that people have stepped in to our life and our story.  Cancer patients echo the sentiment to me time-after-time in the Chemo Room: “the help” is exhausting in a season where everything is exhausting.  The well-intentioned nature of help doesn’t make it easy.  The overwhelmedness that we felt early on is why we nominated “Help Coordinators” (or maybe they inserted themselves in the gap–I can’t remember): they answer our help4andersons email address, filter, collate, streamline, and then ask us short-and-to-the point questions which are easily answered or — more often — bypass us entirely because they know what we need better than we can articulate for ourselves.

The sockxpedition to the bottom of the basket is one that I am actually looking forward to getting around to tomorrow soon-ish before autumn and it will be a mindful task.   The goofy analogy I’ve explored here came to me when I reflected on what I’m grateful for: connection and depth of relationship with people and God.  I mine the basket, looking for a specific mate, to make a connection.  I see you reading my words, searching your heart, and reaching out to do something: be brave or kind, send a card/email/gift, say thanks, be present, fill a need.  (Not necessarily to me, by the way; I love that my unveiling my world allows you to love your people better.)  I’m standing here with one sock, and I see you standing there with the other.  A match is made: the world, our world — my daughters’ world — is a little better, brighter, softer.  I write because it’s healing for me.  I don’t really understand why you read, and even less why you are moved to actionable kindness.  But I am so, so, so grateful for it.  Is it silly to say?  We’re making the world a better place — one sock basket at a time.


  1. Lori6NV /

    I so look forward to reading each of your posts. This title reminded me of the time I forgot all of my son’s socks when we went on vacation. 🙂 It’s the little things! Sorry I can’t be of help with the sock basket!

  2. Lisa Smith /

    AMAZING. You made a sock basket scenario such a beautiful poem about life. I shutter to think how lacking my life would be without these insightfully articulate posts of yours. You are the queen. Xo

  3. Katie /

    I love your perspective. You are real, and witty, and God-loving and that’s why I read your writings. You inspire me to be a better version of myself and a friend who does that is priceless! You are so talented, so blessed, so beautiful…thanks for sharing a bit of you with me!

  4. Mary /

    I can completely relate! We have a sock basket too, and I often give that job to the kids. Why don’t your socks come on our play date today and we’ll put all 4 girls to the task!!! Also, as you know, everyone needs to store a basket of socks downstairs to avoid the 99th trip upstairs when heading out the door. I’m adding pool towels to the laundry room for summer based on the same line of thinking. 😉

  5. Shari /

    Lovely! Only you can make me think more deeply about matching socks. The reason we read what you write is because you are an incredible writer and an even more incredible person. Thank you for leading us to deeper thought and appreciation.

  6. Matching socks can feel incredibly gratifying, even though it is a tedious task. Everyone in my household is fully capable of accomplishing this task but the basket often sits, full and waiting, while we all avoid it. I’m staring at one right now…
    After reading this post, I’m going to go take care of it.

  7. Alyssa /

    So I’m a bit strange – but if I lived nearby I’d love to tackle your sock basket. So satisfying. And I wear a ladies’ 12 (and men’s socks, often enough), so no judging here! 😉

  8. Bonnie BJ /

    The mysteries of the sock basket ?? I think I’ve found a variety of missing mates for Miss Mary 🙂 Are you still in need ???

  9. Julie /

    What a gift you have for writing… every word….. I would glady be the sock matcher if I just lived a tad bit closer….