There is another one.

I just opened the front door and stepped into my living room.  My eyes scanned the edges and corners of the floor.

There is another, along the hall.  And there, under the chair are two more.  Rumpled and dirty and inside out.  The small white bits of cloth blown and thrown and trampled.  I jingled my keys in my hand and hang my purse on the coat hook.  I thought I told the girls about this.  I HAD told the girls about this.  Every day.  Yet, here is the evidence at the crime scene: dirty rumpled socks, thrown on the floor after school, and forgotten.

I hoisted the baby higher on my hip, and bent down to pick one up on my way down the hall.  I tossed it into the laundry basket by the baby’s changing table.  This is how it works.  I pick up detritus and the droppings of my children, while going about my business around the house.  I circle my house approximately 200 times a day, and chances are, I will find myself hovering by the table and chairs at some point today, at which point I will bend and pick up those socks too.

I do teach my children to pick up after themselves.  Every day, remember?  And they obey like good kids.  I explain about what it means to be a part of our family, and how everyone pitches in to help, and how nice it is to live in a clean house.  But then they come home from school, and play in the living room, and kick off their shoes, and peel off their socks.  And I nurse the baby, and direct them to hang up their backpacks, and put their shoes away, but then my brain goes fuzzy, and I need some food, and the kids get attitudes, and we all need food, and then, and then, and then…

And then it’s tomorrow, and I walk back into the living room after dropping the kids off at school.  There they are: yesterday’s socks staring back at me.  So, I speak a reprimand into the air, and pick up one sock at a time.

This is how it works.  This is how it all works, usually.  Doing one small thing at a time toward a greater goal.  Sometimes there are great fat slices of time to dig into a project.  But most often, things get done one sock at a time.

Which, actually, is a relief.  It’s a strategy that incorporates the constant IV drip of time, factors in the variables and outliers of small children, and still works toward a goal: A clean(er) house.

It’s how I build a savings account: depositing a little bit each month.  Watching the number grow and not shrink.  One sock at a time.

It’s how I parent my children: helping, guiding, disciplining, comforting, directing, soothing, providing.  Each instant of filling their needs.  One sock at a time.

It’s how I plan and plant the spring garden.  It’s how I will walk the rows to pull each weed by hand: the practice of growing organically.  Grabbing out a weed while cutting some chard or picking beans.  One sock at a time.

It’s any act of self-discipline, or investment.  It’s doing SOMETHING, instead of looking at the goal, and retreating with an overwhelmed heart.

It’s using what I have – a bit of time and a bit of energy – to build my very own life: one sock at a time.


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