The Children’s New Clothes


When I pictured the life of a stay-at-home parent, I don’t think I pictured so many clothes.

The Laundry-Sorting Room (AKA my bedroom) is covered in pants, shirts, underwear, socks, a skirt or two, dress shirts, a lone pair of tights, towels, sheets, blankets, and children. The boys’ bedrooms are equally carpeted in garments, though not as thickly. Near the bottom of the stairs is a hopeful pile of jackets and pants just waiting to be carried up. Corners and edges of every room sport socks, underwear, and the occasional sweater. Since it is currently winter, the main floor heater vents are warming snow pants, mittens, and more socks and underwear.

And, despite all odds, everyone’s closets and dressers are full enough to convince a live studio audience that this family sitcom is legit.

I’m not sure where all these clothes are coming from, where they are headed, or who they belong to. I’m especially not sure how to get them on their way. Perhaps they’re waiting for a nudge? A meal? A loan?

This morning, after barely making it from bed to bathroom, I tried sorting into piles. “Whose soccer jersey is this?” I asked, holding up a reversible garment from 2013.

“That’s Twelve’s,” Ten said.

So I put it in Twelve’s pile he was currently rooting through. “Hey!” he protested. “That’s not mine! I gave it to Ten!”

Ten objected and they fought until Twelve could name the exact location and date of the transference. “Oh, yeah,” Ten finally agreed. “I remember. But, then I gave it to Seven.”

I sighed, and slid the jersey over to Seven’s mound. “That’s not mine,” his voice claimed. I found his face nearby. For some reason, he was not yet dressed but was buried beneath the towels.

“So,” I said, my patience waning, “Whose is it?”


I looked at Four, who was dressed -albeit still in pajamas. The soccer jersey was large enough for him to wear as a dress, if he were a girl and if baggy, faded, reversible polyester with a giant number and sponsor name across the back were the current fashion.

“Maaaaahm?” Ten called from somewhere under the pillowcases. “Where’s my orange pants?”

Twelve was huffing as he still rifled through his mess. “Where are my socks?”

Seven surfaced long enough to say, “I probably should have used the bathroom before helping you with laundry.”

Four shrugged at me with a cute smile. “Here,” I told him. “Find some pants to go with it.”


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