A sock was my undoing. A single sock and it rocketed me straight into a person I don’t want to be. It started brewing when I looked outside and saw all all four of them playing baseball in their pajamas. Andy promised to get them ready to leave so I could spend the morning writing, but now we were twenty minutes from leaving and they were playing baseball. In their pajamas.

You don’t need to know the gory details (and I don’t need to rehash them), but let it suffice to say it was hands down my worse moment in history as a mother. All because there were four feet and three baseball socks. I’m pulling out an entire load of half-wet clothes in hopes that the sock (which I made sure went from soak bucket to washer to dryer) was still in the dryer.

“What’s going on?”Andy asks, completely oblivious that I’m unraveling.

Instead of seeing an ally, I can’t get past the three socks. “You promised to have them ready. You said I could write and you would take care of them. They’d be ready.”

“I am. They’re playing baseball in the yard so you can have a little quiet to write. Why are you in here?”

It must have been the wild look in my eye that makes him ask again, “What’s going on?”

“I’m losing it over a sock,” I say.

Then it got worse. I’m fighting-mad. Ungrateful. Wretched.

It ended in the garage, when I see his bewildered face. I know if I stop myself, breathe, and pause I would look the same. Bewildered.

Who am I and where did this just come from? He waves me to him. Steps closer. I yield. Get out of the car and slam the door. Walk to him.

“What’s going on?” he says again.

I’m ready to deliver another string of rants, but instead I say, “You said they’d be ready, but there were only three socks.”

“The fourth one was on top of the dryer.”

I lift an eyebrow. There isn’t much space for a sock to hide on top of our dryer. There is a photo, a bowl of treasures from pockets and a stack of dish towels.

I’m still fighting-mad.

He hugs me. “It was under control,” he says, his breath warm on the top of my head.

I nod because I know.

And I’m left wondering how in the last 14 minutes I became the kind of person who crushes souls.  Why didn’t I just snap a picture of the pajama-clad Saturday morning baseball game spurred on by a husband who loves to give me a sweet Saturday morning of stacking words? How did I miss the beauty in the moment?

Maybe because it wasn’t really about the sock. It was about me trying to get it right, trying to do too much, and feeling overwhelmed.

Forgetting I’m not in control (and Andy isn’t either) of this little life. I want a life that makes much of God. When I’m the one taking control, I have a life that makes much of a mess. It’s a mess when a momma comes undone by a sock.

Perhaps after baseball season, I’ll hang one of those socks where I can see it. It’ll keep me humble, reminding me it is only by grace that I’m here and that without grace, I am wretched. I’m always close to missing the blessings. I’ll also be reminded of the pajama-clad baseball game and how I almost missed what it really was — not the catalyst to being late, but a blessing.

A blessing. Maybe, just maybe, the sock can be a blessing too. Because I never want to lose 14 minutes like that again. Life is fragile. Family is special. And I want my life to make much of Him.

(Remarkably, we weren’t late to the baseball game. We all arrived in decent spirits and with four socks! And how did Andy have so much patience with me? I asked too. His response — “I knew we would laugh about this later because it was so odd you were acting that way.”)

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  1. Oh how I remember the days of lost baseball socks, wet towels for swim meets, and the rush of trying to do it all. You're going to miss those days, even the days of unravel because they make us appreciate all the others so much more. Give yourself a break, you're just a mom being a mom and everything else too. What a great hubby!

  2. I hope that you will truly know that we've all been there, Ruth! The sock, the clothes hiding under the bed that didn't get washed, the chain off the bicycle that no one told about, etc. I think we have the expectations so planned in our minds (maybe because we're too busy) that when something goes sideways, it spills into what we think of as failure. As Tammy says, give yourself a break, then hang the sock and laugh! I think you caught yourself very nicely, actually!

  3. Ruth, I love how you are able to share your moments of anguish and despair through your writing. This is real life and we all do the best we can, even if we unravel a bit. You have one wise husband.

  4. Ruth,

    Once again I admire your willingness to share glimpses into your life in such an honest way. Lately I have had moments where stress is just bubbling under the surface because of various transitions. Today I posted about words I need to hear in order right now. Your post is another example of just what I needed to read right now in this moment, especially the lines from “Maybe because it wasn't really about the sock” on. Thank you for this slice.

  5. Your honesty is incredible, Ruth. It's this ability to reflect and strive to do better that makes you an amazing teacher and an amazing mom! Everyone has those moments of crazy, but what makes you special is the way you respond to them — with humility and determination to do better next time. Your wisdom is a gift to all of us: your family and those who read your writing.

    (P.S. Your husband is amazing too!)

  6. So honest and wonderfully written. Loved the image of “stacking words.”
    I too find my self trying to control the situation and wanting it to go a certain way and being frustrated when others don't follow my script.
    “Let go and Let God.” definitely works much better.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. We all have those “sock” moments. You described it to perfection – those moments before you lose total control. I'm so glad you have an Andy who takes care of you and knows you will laugh about it later.
    Your writing is so honest.

  8. I love your honesty, Ruth. Sometimes I feel that I'm the only one who experiences little moments of unraveling, but your words remind me that I'm not alone and I'm not in control! I echo Jennifer's words: “It's this ability to reflect and strive to do better that makes you an amazing teacher and an amazing mom!”

    Again I say thank you for your words. Your honest, mind-thinking, heart-swelling words.

  9. Ruth,
    This sentence wowed me. I had to read it again and again.

    Why didn't I just snap a picture of the pajama-clad Saturday morning baseball game spurred on by a husband who loves to give me a sweet Saturday morning of stacking words?

  10. You had me at the first sentence…”A sock was my undoing.” I think any parent could say something similar at one time or another. Your honesty in this slice is refreshing. I was nodding and relating to your pain all the way through.

  11. All I have to say is, “Thank God for men that really get us.” And I have a great song about a sock and you can sing it the next time. I can't wait to see you again tonight. xo

  12. I have had more of those days than I care to admit… *sighs* Especially this week as I frantically try to prepare for vacation.

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. I will need to read and re-read this post as we have sock undoings here often. My daughter hates them and becomes a wild child much like what you described. Haven't we just ALL been there. Now I just need to remember to be “the Andy” in the situation and hug her instead of any alternative. Socks undoing the day? It is never worth the energy or the missed moments. I loved your words.