“Mooooom? Where is the sock basket?”
This is a frequent, morning question in my household.
The kids are referring to the wicker basket, an evolution of what was once a sock bag, that is home to all of our clean socks. Not just all unmatched socks, mind you, but all of our socks. They’re never matched up anymore, and the goal is no longer to find a perfect matching pair, but simply two socks that match just enough. Two socks that are about the same height and in the same color scheme, that will do.
A few times a week I will say, “I am going shopping this week and everyone is getting brand new, matching socks!” but it never happens. It never happens because we’re busy. Three of them, one of me, sports, homework, life, no-time-for-matching-socks busy. So we continue with our sock basket-routine and quite frankly, it adds character to our crazy family. It’s ours. It reminds us that we are unique.
It’s also something more. The basket, for me, is a metaphor. It represents the one thing that has saved me as a mother: lower expectations. There was a time when I expected myself to match the socks with each load of clean laundry. I believed that part of being a good mother was providing that top drawer full of clean, matched socks for each child, and when I failed to do that, I was a failure by my own measure.
It didn’t take long to realize that matching socks was not one of my strong points. I’m not one to put the time and effort into sock-matching. If given the choice to match socks or do anything else, I will always choose anything else. When I finally accepted this as my reality, I created the sock bag/basket, and life got a little bit lighter.
Behind this sock basket is a mother who accepts herself as she is. A mother who knows her strengths and weaknesses. A mother who knows she can’t do it all. A mother who chooses to play one more game of cards with her kids over doing the laundry. A mother who dances with her kids in the messy kitchen to soak up their youth and love just a little bit longer before bedtime. A mother who realizes a clean car is a luxury she will have maybe in about eight years. A mother who will tell the dentist every six months, “I will do better with flossing their teeth,” but secretly knows there is no way in hell she is flossing the teeth of three kids each night.
I stopped expecting myself to do the things that just didn’t get done. What happened? I changed. I stopped keeping mommy-score and started living. I stopped worrying about what someone else would think, and I stopped believing that household chores, in any way, define me as a mother.
Some days, I still compare myself to those moms who not only match socks, but also bake, clean, and host parties, and for a split second I wish I was more like them. Then I realize: if I was more like them, I wouldn’t be me. I am who I am, and my number-one goal as a mom these days is to stay true to myself. Trying to be someone else is too much work.
So when I see my kids wearing their unmatched socks, and as I do the same, I remember that socks that are about the same height are good enough, that I’m good enough, and that what I once thought of as a flaw has become an endearing part of my family’s unique morning routine. In our family, there’s no need to be anyone else, or to wear matching socks.