Socks and OCD

This morning I bought socks. I bought lots and lots of socks. There are pairs with owls, with seals, with otters, with stripes, with polka dots, with pretty patterns. I bought socks for me, socks for Hazel, and socks for Joanna and Emily. A few of them are even partially pink. *gasp*

It has been years upon years since I bought socks. Almost without exception, other than white workout socks, the pairs I have bought have all been black, and all been about the same length and weight. However, since I have bought different batches of them over the past 20 years, my collection of black socks is not all the same in terms of pattern and texture. Therefore, I have spent some percentage of my life during those years hunting for matching socks, unwilling to dress my feet differently from each other. Perhaps I worried that my left foot would feel inferior, or that my right foot would get a fraction of a degree colder than the left. More likely, I was worried that the sensation of the socks would be slightly different. Most importantly, having matching socks turned into the kind of have-to which causes a totally unnecessary degree of stress while clothes-hunting in the mornings.

Hazel has said to me, several times, “Matching socks are boring, Mama!”

This sentiment has been humming around in my brain for a while, bumping into things and knocking them off the shelves. The thing is, I come by my sock obsession honestly. If you look in my dad’s closet, you will see a long row of white shirts, identical down to the hangers upon which they rest with such propriety. And if you look in his drawer, you will see black socks, all identical, neatly folded and stacked.

When we went camping on the beach when I was a kid, he wore his white shirts with undershirts, dark slacks, and dark sandals. He did not wear a colored shirt until two decades ago, when my mom and I bought him three of them to go over the drains in his side upon the occasion of his homecoming from the hospital.

It is, of course, my dad’s right to wear whatever he likes. For me, though, I have been examining the stresses in my life with an eye to reducing or eliminating them where possible. I realized that, the laundry hunt being frustrating enough, I don’t need to add my matching black sock obsession to the mix. I can jettison that. And sometimes, I might even just wear owls and otters on the same day!

I will also note that I was further inspired to take this radical leap into a more exciting footwear existence by my daughter’s piano teacher, who was sporting an awesome yellow pair with his suit for the recent recital performed by his students.

It’s so easy for me to get myself tied up in various of life’s knots. But sometimes it’s possible to just untie the knot, step away, look around, and jump in a mud puddle for the fun of it. So with my sock purchase, I am trading in stress for joy. A good exchange.


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