The Rockwood Files: Things turn up

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

In our laundry room, we have a small bin for “lost socks.” The irony here is that the socks in the bin aren’t lost at all. We know exactly where they are. It’s their twins that are missing, wandering around out there in the domestic black hole where I assume all lost things go, if for no other reason than to torture us.

But I keep those single socks, sometimes for up to a year, because of this universal truth: “Sometimes things turn up.”

Does it always happen? No. I waited for years for the key to our grandfather clock to show up before finally caving in and buying a replacement key online. But every now and then, the domestic black hole gets too crowded with charging cords, important documents and lost socks, so it spits something back out. When it does, there’s a joyous sock reunion because the twin has been waiting patiently in the laundry room’s holding bin.

Of course, there’s a difference between something misplaced and something that’s lost. That difference has everything to do with effort to find it. My kids, for example, love to claim things are “lost.”

Kid: “Mom, I’m trying to make some chocolate milk and the Hershey’s syrup is lost.”

Me: “Have you really looked for it?”

Kid: “Yes, I’m standing here staring into the fridge but it’s not in here. I’ve looked all over.”

(It’s important to note that, for most kids, the thing they’re looking for is “lost” if it does not leap into their hands the minute they need it. And when they say they’ve “looked all over,” that means they’ve stood there staring at what’s right in front of them but not anywhere else. That’s why I refuse to join the search and rescue efforts for anything before the kids have looked “under and behind” all possible barriers. Experienced finders know that misplaced things are almost always found under or behind something else. They’re hidden – not lost.)

Me: “Did you look under and behind things? Because if I come in and there and find it, you owe me two extra chores.”

Kid: (Long silence. Sounds of rummaging.) “Never mind, Mom. I found it. It was behind the orange juice.”

Me: (Nodding knowingly.) “Imagine that.”

I’ll admit that losing things isn’t only for kids, though. One time I lost one of my favorite black sandals after a trip out of state. It qualified as “lost” because I spent weeks trying to find it. I knew for sure it had made it into the car when we left for home but, by the time we pulled into our garage, it had disappeared.

I checked the luggage. I checked the car. I checked the garage. I checked the car again. I practically stood on my head, peering under the seats to see if it had slid under there. But there was no shoe. I’d nearly convinced myself that it had fallen out of a car door when we stopped for gas, which meant it had been abandoned at a Conoco in Des Moines, Iowa. But I wasn’t certain, so I took its lonely twin and put it in my closet, just in case it turned up.

It didn’t. After six months, I almost threw away that lonely shoe. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was my favorite pair – the perfect blend of comfy and cute – and I’d bought them during a fun shopping trip with four of my five sisters-in-law. So, I hung onto the solo sandal a bit longer.

Fast forward two months. As a birthday gift, Tom had my SUV detailed by a professional – someone whose ninja cleaning skills can get Chick-fil-a barbecue sauce residue out of a cupholder. Someone who has a PhD in nooks and crannies. In addition to sparkling clean cupholders and a gleaming dashboard, the car detailer also left behind a surprise on the passenger seat – the shoe!

Oh, I was overjoyed to see it. You would have thought he’d left a big bag of money in my car. I danced upstairs toward my closet, yelling the whole way: “It’s here! He found it! I thought it was gone forever!”

Tom (who clearly doesn’t know how rare it is to have a comfy sandal that’s also cute) didn’t understand why I was practically turning cartwheels over the discovery.

But it wasn’t just about the shoe. It was also validation that, sometimes, even when circumstances don’t seem to be going our way, there’s always a chance that things will turn up. Something will shift that makes things possible that weren’t possible before.

Perhaps sometimes what we need to do is just wait and hang onto hope (and a bin of single socks) while things work themselves out.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of You can read more of Gwen’s work by clicking here to visit The Rockwood Files.