We remodeled our kitchen (and then some) in 2001. It was a big job, and like all remodeling projects, suffered from project creep. There’s a great picture of me doing dishes at some point during the process. You can see me standing at the kitchen sink with my back to the camera, washing. It looks pretty normal, until you look above my head where the ceiling should be, and instead see the sky, and a tree, and clouds. My kitchen had no roof. No roof. No. Roof. While that part of the project was pretty brief, all things considered, the refrigerator lived in the living room for a long time, as did our entire collection of dishes, pots, pans, etc. Suffice to say, my house–my life–was a bit chaotic for a while.
So, you can imagine the context as I continue my story to tell you that one day during this chaos, I opened up my sock drawer and really looked at it for a moment. It was clean. It was organized. It had dividers. Things were lined up. Perfectly. Every sock had its mate. It was color-coded. Alphabetized, even.* It would have made Martha Stewart cry jealous tears of joy. It was the universal antithesis of chaos.
It was, one woman’s attempt to maintain some sense of control over some aspect of her (physical) home life.
Anyway, this is a story I tell sometimes to approximately illustrate the therapy concept called “displacement.” As in: “I really wanted to have a normal home that had a roof and a fridge in the kitchen where it belonged, but since I couldn’t have that, I settled for the durn-best-organized sock drawer on the planet.”
Sometimes, we fight for control over little things, even when it’s not really what we want. As parents, it’s good to remember this, and recognize it when we (or our kids) do it.
* No, not really alphabetized.
** Addendum: my kitchen did finally get finished, and my sock drawer soon went back to its normal–significantly lesser–level of organization. Thanks for asking. ;^)