The 27 Days of Sockmas

By Mir
December 9, 2011

December is, traditionally, the month of the year wherein I am most likely to wish to die in a fire. It’s not that I don’t love the holiday fa la la la blah blah or whatever, it’s that:
1) Work is crazy. (See also: the glamorous life of a freelancer, no such thing as paid vacation.)
2) The children are crazy. (Monkey is crazy because everyone else is crazy; Chickadee is crazy because traditional public schooling mandates that December is a DANDY time to assign projects in every single class, plus have finals, plus do standardized testing, plus start doing competitions for several activities in which she’s involved.)
3) Travel makes me crazy, and the only thing that makes me crazier than traveling is PLANNING for travel, and December is the hallowed month of WHEN WILL YOU BE HERE FOR HOW LONG LET’S PLAN EVERYTHING and as much as I love each and every person who wants to see us, really, I do, I would also rather punch myself in the face repeatedly than try to figure this out every damn year.
4) It’s possible I’m just crazy anyway. MAYBE. I admit to nothing. Other than December bringing out my special brand of… me-ness.

December is also the month in which I start “making peace with my limitations,” which sounds a lot more Zen and friendly than just saying that I stop cleaning, I stop cooking, and also I stop caring. There is only so much that can get done in any given time period, and you know what? No one ever died from a few extra hairballs in the bathroom. I mean, I assume. I trust that—come January—just as in every other year, the crazy-scales will fall from my eyes, life will return to normal, and I will look around the house and bellow OH MY GOD WE ARE LIVING IN FILTH, CHORE DAY RIGHT NOW EVERYONE GRAB A SPONGE.

[Yes, of course I am exaggerating. A little. Not as much as I hope you think I am, though.]

The wrench in all of this is that, as you may have guessed, those posters with the kitten dangling from a tree branch with the cheery caption “Hang in there!” are more stable than the workings of our daily life, right now. And JUST ONE THING can throw everything off, I mean throw off even the jacked-up, half-assed schedule we are limping along with right now.

Hmmmmm. December. December. Now what ONE THING could POSSIBLY come visit a family in December, unbidden? If you guessed ILLNESS you are CORRECT! Gold star and a big vat of hand sanitizer for you!

Last year Otto and the kids got the flu, you may recall, although in the end I miraculously escaped it. It ruined all of our plans, led to our canceling the annual holiday trek back up north, and was generally a giant buzzkill in every way possible. This year I forbid anyone to get sick. Obviously.

Well, Monkey had a hard week a couple of weeks ago and then Chickadee was maybe-sick for a couple of days and yesterday I went on a field trip with Hippie School and then ran some errands with Monkey and took him to get a flu shot and to therapy and then we came home and I sat down and I thought, “Huh. I don’t feel so hot.”

Let me clarify, here, that I DO NOT HAVE THE FLU. I have a cold. Probably a minor one. I just… buckled. I’m exhausted. I went to bed around 9 last night and didn’t even open my eyes until about 7 this morning. I’m about 20% sick and 80% just plain tired, and it’s not a big deal, but it’s interfering with everything I need to get done, man.

So I was lying in bed with my laptop and I started thinking about actually showering and getting dressed, and I realized I was completely out of clean clothes. Like, the only clean underwear I had available was the slutty g-string with BRIDE written in rhinestones across the front that someone gave me before Otto and I got married. (Which… yeah, I have no idea why I still have those.)

Also, most of the clothes which weren’t stuffed in my hamper were sitting in the clean clothes basket I never unloaded from the LAST time I did laundry.

AND every single pair of jeans I own needed to be washed. Do you do that thing where you have A PLACE where jeans go after you’ve won them and they are not FRESH FROM THE LAUNDRY CLEAN but can be worn again, probably? And generally that works out pretty well, but about once or twice a year you realize that said PLACE is heaped up with jeans, ALL of which need to be washed?? (You… don’t? Okay, um, well then me neither. Ahem.)

So I dragged myself out of bed and did three loads of laundry and put everything away. In case you were wondering, yes: 28 pair of socks. And no, it hasn’t been 28 days since I did laundry, because some of them were in the basket from last time that I never put away and…

… I have no idea why I’m telling you this.

Epilogue: My clothes are clean. The house is still a mess. And now I’m too tired to take a shower. WOE IS ME.


  1. Leandra

    Huh. Apparently I’ve been making peace with my limitations too. That sounds WAY better than what I’ve been calling it!

    Hope you feel better soon!

  2. Aimee

    Making peace with one’s limitations — it’s an epidemic! I agree with Leandra, it sounds way better than “not cleaning or doing other stuff that needs to be done.”

    Hope you feel better very soon, and that the rest of December cooperates with you.

  3. Katie in MA

    I am a survivor of that particular plague, and lemme tell you: half way through day 5, you will suddenly feel a good deal better. Not ALL the way better, but enough better that you stop planning your funeral. So just try to outlast the death and agony and general plagueness until then. I suggest lots of ice cream. (Hand-delivered to your deathbed, of course.)

  4. Dani

    I thought I was the only one with “that place where jeans go”… good to know I’m not!

  5. Emily in IL

    At least your jeans aren’t in a heap on your 10mo old daughters bedroom floor because that’s where they were removed in the flurry of ‘OMG the baby puked on me blarrrrgh’ that happened here the other night.

    I love ‘making peace with one’s limitations’… I will be using that lovely line on my darling husband who has been child free for the past 2 days. There will be take out in our home tonight!

  6. Mara

    I totally have a “place”… and it’s not just for jeans.

  7. alihua

    So true story……

    We took a long trip to Maine 2 years ago which involved our biggest suitcase (in the world, maybe). Came home, unpacked it, and shoved it in the bedroom closet until SOMEONE took it to the garage.

    So about 6 months ago, SOMEONE decides to day “Huh, think I’m taking that to the garage today.” The Not-SOMEONE may have schreeched “Noooooo, where will I put my not-yet-dirty pants?”

    So you’re not alone. Also, ginormous suitcase is perfect height for draping and not wrinkling slacks.

  8. Megan

    Okay, but I have this weird version of your brilliant peace-with-limitations thing where I’m TOTALLY at peace with my limitations on things like cleaning the stove or wiping off the fingerprint-coated fridge (again) while at the same time deciding it would be a brilliant plan to (and I’m not kidding): hand-make personalized felt stockings for the family, design and build EIGHT model houses to make a ginormous holiday village for the front yard, volunteer to bake four different kinds of complicated cookies for an auction, organize a toy drive AND revamp an entire website.

    I think I might contract Self Defense Flu which will require giving up all of said projects and hopefully sitting quietly in bed surrounded by my e-reader, my laptop, and stacks of mindless but thoroughly enjoyable DVD’s.

  9. Kelly

    I need to make peace as well – except that we are hosting Christmas Eve family get together. So I just have to clean by then. That gives me two weeks so instead I will start that morning… :)

  10. Lucinda

    I’m sorry you are so tired but your description of the jeans had me in tears. Yes, I know exactly what you are talking about! Hope you can get some rest. Sometimes, you just let go of the stuff you can’t do and it seems like you have to let go of so much that even that can feel overwhelming. Been there. So sending healthy vibes your way and hoping you can enjoy the season despite the craziness.

  11. RuthWells

    You are ahead of me, if that is at all comforting… 2 weeks of clean laundry are festooning the guest room and I’m down to the VERY slutty underwear.

  12. Arnebya

    Huh. I have no clean underwear or socks (please don’t ask what I had to resort to wearing today), a heaping pile of jeans, and I’m not even sick. There are clean clothes mixed in w/the dirty clothes in that last basket I brought up and dammit now I don’t know which is which and I am so not doing the nasty ass sniff test that my husband does w/his gym shorts (wherein he is always wrong that the sniffed ones will be the clean ones. Always. And ew). Glad you have clean clothes. The house’ll survive. Also, showers are overrated.

  13. diane

    Eh, why put the clean clothes away when you can wear them out of the clean laundry basket until it is empty and the dirty clothes basket is full? I hated hauling things down to the basement to do laundry when I only had to go down one set of stairs. Maybe putting my bedroom on the second floor of the condo (laundry in the basement) wasn’t the brightest thing to do, after all.

    The 20/80 split sounds like what’s going on here. I plan to be a bed-ridden, nap taking slug all weekend to deal with it, except for having to get sparkly and clean for a late Saturday afternoon wedding.

  14. Kelly

    I TOTALLY have that spot where jeans go…on the floor of my bedroom. They rarely get washed right away either. Why do we only have that spot for jeans?

  15. emily

    Umm yeah. Yesterday my kids kept asking why I was dressed up (I had on a jean skirt). Laundry day around these parts, too.

  16. Jennifer

    I generally make peace with my limitations all year long.

  17. Jackie

    Feel better soon. I agree with Jennifer. I make peace with my limitations all year long as well. Thank GOD I have someone clean my house once a month.

  18. Heather

    Apparently, I am always making peace with my limitations (or already am at peace with ’em? Nah!) because my house is always like that. Yes, I do have that place for my jeans, and I just did a few batches of laundry that yielded 28ish pairs of socks for my husband ALONE, let alone any of the 4 other people who live here. Oy.

  19. MomCat

    Wearing jeans more than once is a very Green, save-our-planet sort of thing to do. So is not showering every day. And not using all those harmful cleaning products too frequently. It’s not rationalization – it’s totally responsibility! I read it somewhere. Or made it up.

  20. Reb

    You poor thing. I hope you come right incredibly quick.

    I’ve got a part of my wardrobe for not-yet-dirty stuff. Everything hanging there is still fit to wear. And uncrushed. It’s a great system.

    There’s mostly hardly anything there … because it’s all in a heap by the bed.

    And I don’t even have kids as an excuse!

  21. Katherine

    Its definitely better for the environment to wear your jeans more than once. I tell my kids that frequently. I might even threaten that if they only wear them once and then toss them in the laundry that they will be doing their own laundry. Or at least, have to wear the not favorite dressier pants.

  22. Tracey

    I totally have that spot for my jeans. Sometimes my husband washes them (I KNOW! I should be happy he DOES THE WASH) and throws off my whole system….

  23. mamaspeak

    I’m gonna right a post on my blog that says, “What she said” and point it here. Bc, I made peace w/my limitations a few years ago…& hired a cleaning service (every other week.) We travel at Thanksgiving, which is what puts all X-mas plans into a tail-spin. My mom is one of those people who thinks X-mas should be nothing short of a “Norman Rockwell-esk” event. And by Dec 10, I’m ready to be done w/the whole thing. Hmmm…notice the date?

    A few years back us kids rebelled & told my mom to pick a day BEFORE X-mas to celebrate as a family. We were tired of getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to do Santa & rush through gifts, so we could rush through gifts at her house before all the extraneous relatives showed up. That has helped the stress level a lot. I have also come to terms with, “I don’t give a shite syndrome & embraced it.” If I want to wear my PJs to X-mas dinner I do. It’s my X-mas too.

  24. mamaspeak

    Damn Auto-correct! I’m going to WRITE a post, not right it.

  25. Crisanne

    Ah yes, I have that place for jeans too! Though mine much more resembles a blob of “removed just before hopping in bed” than a carefully arranged pile. In the winter, sweaters live there too. My husband really loves said piles…HA!

  26. Edd Fear

    WHAT?!? It’s DECEMBER already?


  27. Little Bird

    As the one who does the laundry for her folks (they pay me, I’m not that altruistic) there is definitely a system for jeans. And everyone in the family follows it. Or else!
    There is a similar system for sweaters. Particularly the sweaters that get worn OVER a shirt. But those get dry cleaned, and therefor are not my problem.
    Feel better soon, you don’t want this to overlap with the time when both kids are home ALL DAY LONG!

  28. addy

    Dude I had 8 loads of laundry the other day! 8 loads to be washed, folded, hung and put away. The sheets are on the laundry-to-bed rotation cuz it’s easier. And no I have no idea what you’re talking about with the jeans thing. No idea at all……

  29. Sheila

    It’s really in the better health interests of your entire family that you shut yourself up in your bedroom so as not to spread germs and malaise around the house. Yes. Stop the spread now by isolating yourself. I’m sure Otto would get you a bell to ring when you need a fresh cup of tea or a new Us Weekly.

  30. Brigitte

    All I’m thinking is that January chore day may as well wait until AFTER Monkey’s birthday (since, if he has a party, those various lemurs and gibbons and all will destroy the house anyway).

  31. Daisy

    Hugs to you – and more. You sound like I did a year ago. It wasn’t the mild illnesses, it was the complete fatigue and exhaustion that did me in.

  32. Leila

    Mir, you are a better person than me. Because I would have just taken a bath, embraced the g-string (but don’t wear it to sleep), and dealt with only priorities 1 & 2, even if they weren’t laundry-related.

  33. T. Clark

    I feel your pain, literally. Between the pinkeye, the sinus infection, the dermatitis all over my forehead that’s making my skin fall off like snowflakes, and yes, I’m giving too much information, my fungus-y pinky toe, I have never felt more beautiful than this week. It’s really messing with my Christmas spirit and decking the halls because you can’t decorate a room that’s filled with clutter. Could someone please put something away, ever??? Good luck, I hope you’re better soon!

  34. Jen

    I think I perhaps do the opposite. During December, I always seem to convince myself that I have no limitations. For example, this week, I am handsewing some gifts for my children and a few friends (I actually started those during Thanksgiving weekend, but time is short, and I still am far from done), baking 8 different kinds of cookies and candies to give to teachers on Friday, shopping for a secret santa gift and gifts for my bosses for the company Christmas party this weekend, plus a jacket and shoes to go with my dress for said party (hey, at least I’ve bought a dress already (actually, 2, because I am bad at choosing) – last year, I bought a dress the day before), baking for a potluck at my son’s school, plus one at work, and I still haven’t bought Christmas presents for about half the people on my list. Oh, and my son has 2 projects at school this week that I volunteered to provide supplies for, that I will have to go out and buy at some point, and I’ve convinced myself that there is no reason my house shouldn’t be clean and laundry done despite all the craziness. And this is why I basically have a nervous breakdown every year at the holidays.

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