The Mysterious Otherworldly Vortex That Eats Baby Socks, Washcloths & Bibs

Now that my kids are 6 and 3, I buy those enormous value packs of white boy socks and that's what they wear every single day. Boring, prone to toe-holes, and usually scattered over every surface of the house, but at least I don't have to worry about finding a matching pair in the morning.

When they were babies, though, they had the cutest socks in the world. Soft socks, hand-knitted socks, tiny newborn socks, socks with grippy lettering on the bottom to help wobbly toddler feet ... man, those were some great socks. I figured I would hand down an adorable basketful of those things once they were outgrown.

Except somehow, somewhere, one matching sock from every single pair went missing, never to be found again. How did this happen? It's one of the biggest mysterious of babyhood, and if you have any theories, I'd love to hear them.


I remember getting my son ready for daycare one morning, and while I was doing my usual breathless gallop around the house to collect bottles, jars of food, and extra diapers, all the while trying to keep him distracted from the great injustice of being buckled into his carseat, I suddenly noticed his feet were bare. Ever-mindful of the potential criticism from strangers ("You let someone else raise your child AND you don't protect his feet from dipping temperatures and deadly pathogens? OFFICER ARREST THIS WOMAN!"), I went on the search for a pair of socks. You know, one of the millions of pairs he owned.

Stripey socks from the Gap, plain socks from Target, silly socks with dragons printed on them that matched his "Good Knight" shirt, socks with a permanent water ripple in the toe from being chewed on—the kid was drowning in socks. And I couldn't find a single patching pair.

I tore apart the top drawer in Riley's bedroom and found a paltry mismatched assemblage of foot coverings, including a solitary pink sock from when he was 1) a newborn and apparently also 2) a girl; I dug through the pile of clothes in the dryer, which produced only a fierce ball of static-crackling t-shirts; I checked behind the changing table but other than a few dog-hair tumbleweeds, there was nothing.

He went to daycare in that one too-small pink sock and one blue toddler sock, as I recall. Naturally, it was picture day.

I never did figure out where all those socks went. It seemed there was a giant sock-sucking (heh) vortex in my house, some kind of wormhole through space and time into which socks were being swallowed, one by one.

The same thing happened to the massive amount of burp rags I had. Before my son was born, I had a ridiculous number of baby washcloths, which I laundered in Dryel and lovingly folded into giant towering stacks. Eventually, of course, I learned that babies can gunk up approximately one clean washcloth per half second, and folding washcloths is a pointless and maddening activity, and then, just like the socks, they all disappeared. What the hell? They were like Tribbles, they were everywhere: draped over the back of the sofa, dropped in the dog's water dish, peeping out from my wallet, and one day I could only find three. THREE. And the bibs, didn't I have about a metric ton of those, too? Suddenly I was feeding my kid with a paper towel wedged under his chin. While he waved his sockless feet.

Are you familiar with the missing sock/burp rag/bib phenomenon? What's to blame? (Vortex?)

Image via Linda Sharps

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