Winning the Sock War

“I didn’t know we were at war with socks,” he replied when I asked for title suggestions, completely unaware that beneath the cushion on which he sat, a company of crews was planning their attack.

They’re everywhere.

Little Guy leaves tiny Spider-Man footies on the kitchen table. Little Sister stuffs sparkly pink knee-highs in the couch. Big Sister brazenly drops sloth embroidered shorties in the middle of the livingroom. Firstborn and Mathwiz build competing mounds of stinking black crews in the game room. And, on more than one occasion, I’ve considered strangling Big Daddy with a dirty tube sock that he tossed on top of the clean pile of laundry in the bedroom.

They are on the trampoline, chewed up in the yard, and muddy on the front porch. I find them in cabinets, in the car, in the dog’s crate, and the kids backpacks. Last week, I found one in the freezer.

You get the picture.

These isolated uprisings don’t concern me much. It’s that organized mass of mismatched socks in the basket in the laundry room that gets me worried. There they are every day in ever increasing forces reminding me of my inadequacy every time I walk in the imageroom.

As the mother of six, I get enough reminders about what I didn’t do, from the “what have you done for me, lately” team. I’m not gonna take that crap from a bunch of inflated yarn balls that can’t hold onto their partners.

Somewhere along this journey, we instated a family tradition of giving everyone a 12-pack of socks at Christmas. Unfortunately, no tradition for disposing of last year’s 12-pack followed and the end result has been swelling ranks of woolen anarchy. At last count, Firstborn alone had more than 40 pairs. No Kidding.

Fiercely independent, these pairs are prone to separation. Plenty defect completely, disappearing without a trace.

One dark day last spring, I found myself staring despairingly at a large laundry basket overflowing with at least 100 mismatched socks when I heard the call to arms. There are 87 gazillion things in this world that I can’t control. Socks isn’t one of ’em.

Right then and there, I decided I was taking the basket back. Amidst all the challenges I may never surmount and my efforts that will fall short, socks won’t be my undoing. I devised a plan. It went something like this:

Today, in this laundry room, Victory is mine.

I did all the laundry and tackled the sorting. Surprisingly few pairs emerged from the effort and I was left with a large basket now 3/4 full of all the more condescending divorced hosiery. So I threw them away. Yep, every last one of their fuzzy little independent asses gone. It was glorious.

Sock purges have become my quick fix. I repeat this process every couple of months when their numbers surpass an undefined threshold that makes me feel threatened–I just know it when I see it–Or when disorder creeps in and I need to reestablish my authority.  It’s surprisingly empowering.

In this life full of pitfalls, mastery of these thirty square feet is sometimes just the boost I need to tackle the greater tragedies.

In the days following my great triumph, a few straggling mates always show up late. I throw them away too. I don’t need those little bastards hanging around mocking me every time I open the door. For one full week, I award myself the satisfaction of an empty laundry basket– A mission accomplished.

At some point, I have to let them start accumulating again as they sometimes  are innocently separated and can be reunited. But now that I have a plan, I can smile smugly at those little insurgents amassing in the basket because I know their days are numbered.