We are a no-shoes-in-the-house family; at least that is the rule we, or I, set for our family. This means we have a bin at the front and back doors where shoes with mucky soles go, and only socks are allowed up and down the halls. I made this rule in an attempt to keep a clean house and minimize my floor-cleaning chores. If shoes come off at the door then the chances of mud tracked through the house is minimal. Makes sense right?
What I didn’t expect was that socks would come off too. I’m not sure why the children felt the need to leave their dirty, stinky socks in the shoe bin, but it happened all the time. And a couple of times a week I would pull the bin out to clean behind it and there, as if to taunt a tired mama, would be their socks; stripes, polka dots, and solids, filling the gaps between the shoes. How many times did I need to tell them, “please, put your socks in the laundry bin not the shoe bin!”
HOW MANY TIMES???
Our eleven-year-old preteen, or “tween,” was the worst at this because she preferred to go barefoot most of the time around the house. I would pull the bin out, see her socks, and feel the frustration of a child not listening. Then I would yell in one breath, “Abigail! Help me to understand what I need to do for you to remember to put your socks in the dirty laundry and not in the shoe bin!”
She would run downstairs, grab her belongings, and say in a sassy tone with that preteen smile, “I’m not sure what the big deal is, they’re just a pair of socks.” I would breathe deep and say a prayer that her teenage years would not be the end of me, knowing full-well that the next time I pulled the bin out I would find another pair of socks.
There are places in my house that have gone untouched since my daughters went to heaven in 2013. These places are too painful to explore, even after three and a half years. The shoe bin that sits under the bench at our front door is one of these places. The contents in this bin represent the miles my girls traveled throughout their days. There are school miles, park miles, beach miles, walking, running and skipping miles, riding bikes around the neighborhood miles, sunny day miles, and lots of rainy day miles. Anna’s riding boots are covered in barn dust from the last day she rode Teva the horse, and Abigail’s flip-flops and sandals represent her desire to be as close to the earth as possible.
The other day I decided it was time to pull the shoes out and clean inside the bin. Knowing the process would bring new waves of pain and emotion, I prayed for comfort. I saw them almost immediately peeking out from underneath one of her shoes, and the memories of dirty socks and the frustrations they caused came flooding back. I burst into tears and yelled as loud as I could with one big breath, “Abigail!”
But this time she didn’t come running, and there wasn’t an eye roll or a preteen smile. Instead, I held her dirty socks to my face and thanked her for not listening.
My prayer for comfort came in the form of an unexpected gift: a pair of Abigail’s dirty socks, which now have a permanent home in our shoe bin.