Socks. They sum it up, really. Once upon a time, your sock world was ordered. Now, with a houseful of teenagers, it's insane.
This shouldn't matter. There are more important things in life than what you wear on your feet.
But a clean pair of socks makes you feel there's a bit of structure to the day. It's a comfort at 6.30am when the cat's been sick in the hall and rain, yet again, is throwing itself at the windows.
"I keep buying them," says my husband in the early morning gloom of our bedroom, "and they keep disappearing. I even bought a special pair with red tops and they've gone, too."
I know what he means. I bought a five-pack in Sainsbury's. The next time I looked there was nothing in the drawer but cardboard packaging.
So what's going on? Is the cat ripping them all to shreds in a manic nocturnal frenzy? Or has the washing machine – overworked and unappreciated – decided to eat them all?
The truth, as you've guessed, is much more straightforward. My sons' own socks, ripped off inside-out, are in the darkness under their beds, scrunched into damp smelly balls. So, if they need a clean pair, what else can they do? They have to take their father's.
My daughter's socks are hidden by piles of clothes and books and scraps of paper in the mysterious innards of her room. She can't go to school barefoot. So she has to take mine.
Sadly all socks, once taken, only ever re-emerge singly. From time to time, the odd sock lands in the washing basket like a crisp packet dropped by a seagull. But that's it. No chance of a second. This means there is never a matching pair on the line.
"But I like odd socks," says my eldest.
I glare at him furiously. But I have to admit that two socks, even when they don't match, are better than one. Recently son no. 2 turned up at my friend's house in shorts and trainers looking strangely unbalanced.
"That's all I could find," he said as he limped home.
Cause and effect, I want to say. Put only one in the washing basket, and only one will come out the other end.
The trouble is, I'm not sure he cares.