Sunday, January 11, 2015

Life in the Cocoon

I think I sat down for 4 minutes tonight after dinner.  Patrick was upstairs getting the girls ready for bed so I quietly snuck a piece of Christmas chocolate.  Ahh...a moment to myself.  And then, "Mama! We have another poo-poo!" So I swallowed down my chocolate and went upstairs to scoop the poop into the last vial to be cultured for Frannie.  How timely.  Now it's in quadruple biohazard bags in the fridge next to my chicken that's brining.  Ah, the joys of returning home from China.

They are the real joys of returning home from China.

So, my initial assessment is that three little people is hard.  Especially three little people aged 5 and under.  Let's face it, little ones are needy.  SUPER needy.  And it's not as if all of a sudden Emmie and Rosie became totally independent overnight just because we brought home Francesca.  Of course it feels like everyone needs parental help at the same time.  So when Patrick is home, the two of us run around with our hair on fire to manage crisis after crisis--and by crisis I mean anything from a diaper blowout to needing more yogurt to getting a boo-boo to being stuck in your Frozen costume.  But most of the time, I'm the one here running around...alone.  Just me.  That's life in the cocoon.

Some people cocoon, some don't.  I'm no psychologist, and I'm not equipped to discus the merits of cocooning with any sort of authority.  I just know that at least on the surface, it makes total sense to us.  There's this new, confused, displaced person thrown into your family and your house.  She's trying to figure out where she is and who you are.  It stands to reason that the more people and places you throw into the mix, the more confusing it will be.  So, that's why we do it.  But it's hard.  Now is when I'm feeling the most out of sorts myself and like I could use a helping hand, but now is when I have to juggle it mostly on my own.  I said to my mother the other day that now I totally understand why people have their mothers come and live with them or visit every day when they bring home a new baby from the hospital.  There is nothing I'd like more than to have some help here.  But right now I'm trying so hard to convince Francesca that I'm the real deal and win her over.  ("Look at me cook!  Look at me braiding your sister's hair!  Look at me wipe your tushie!  Look at me feeding you!  Look at me playing with you! Look at me loving on all three of you!")  I just don't think it's a good idea to throw much more confusion or stimulation into the mix.  But staying the cocooning course is definitely the harder route.

Overall I feel like I'm in slow motion.  Even when Patrick's around, just getting out of the house is a challenge.  Frannie will wake us up at 4:30am and with that much of a [reluctant] head start, we're still just piling in the car by 11:30.  Getting to Target is a huge triumph.  Last weekend we miraculously made it to the North End!  (I'm still wondering if that really happened or if it was just a dream.)

OK.  It was real.  We made it to the North End for pizza.

At Modern Pastry.  Frannie loves to eat.  After I took this picture, she
started licking the display case.  Not joking.  This germophobe wanted
to Purell her tongue but thought better of it.

On Hanover Street.  We enjoyed all the treats the North End has to offer.
She's indoctrinated already.

Caffe Vittoria for a mocha.  For the grownups.  Kids had hot cocoa.
Although Frannie looks like she might have hit the espresso. 

I will also be the first to admit that at least part of the problem is on my end.  I mean, after Emmie and Rosie, I thought all kids started at the age of two.  I'm not used to someone who wrestles me during every diaper change and who is harder to dress than an octopus.  And strapping her into the car seat...don't get me started.  "Cooperation" is apparently not in the vocabulary of a 16-month old.

I know it's going to get better.  But right now I'm feeling like I'll never be on time for anything in my life again.  My house is messy, my definition of clean (hair, clothes, kids) is getting looser, and a "good night's sleep" is any night that doesn't involve a 2-hour interlude in the wee hours awake with Frannie. I consider myself to be a decent cook, and the other night was the first time since we've been home where something wasn't burnt or overcooked because I was running in 7 different directions at once.  ("Don't you like the toasted garlic flavor?" has become a common question around here.)  As long as no one goes missing, everyone gets the correct medications, and people have two shoes on when we leave the house (they don't have to match), I think I've had a good day.

So here's to all you moms with 3, 4, 7, 12 kids...whatever it is.  I don't know how you keep it together.  You look so lovely in your Lulu Lemon yoga pants and perfectly straightened hair.  I looked at my hair straightener this morning and wondered if I could use it to quickly remove wrinkles from the pants I've been wearing for 6 days in a row, or if it would just bake in all of the different foods Frannie has dropped on them over the past week.

And, for anyone who thinks I am exaggerating about my haggard existence, here is a real conversation I had the other day. Because I can't leave Frannie with anyone yet, I had her and Rosie in tow when I went to the doctor.  This was my waiting room conversation:

Some Guy:  Wow!  You have two little ones there, huh?
Me:  [Um, duh.  You can count to two.  Great.]  Yes!  They are 1 and 4!
Some Guy:  Wow!  That's two little ones!
Me:  [Oh, my goodness again with the "two".  I KNOW YOU CAN COUNT TO TWO.]  Well, actually there's another who is at Pre-K.  She's 5.
Some Guy:  Three of them!!! wonder you look so worn out!


Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

Three kids is hard! I Can say that because I have ten! Three little ones knocked me on my butt, and mine were bio. You're in the boot camp years until your oldest can shower by herself.

It gets easier, I promise!

Anonymous said...

Keeping you all in prayer !! Cathy in illinois!!

J said...

Oh, my, the jump to 3 is hard! It will get better in time, but it will take time! Prayers for you.

Penny said...

As a friend of mine put it, you've gone from one-on-one to zone defense. You haven't lost your sense of humor though!

shay68 said...

When all is said and done all that matters is that all three are loved - and they are. I was SO glad my mom came with me to China and that she lives right next door....for the first two weeks T only slept for 45 minutes at a time and I didn't know if I would make it but then one night she slept for 6 hours and I felt like I won the lottery. You are all doing great.

The Weaver Family said...


We are midwestern family with 5 kiddos in the adoption process. We are currently looking at a little guy with Thalassemia from China and have many questions about this diagnosis. His file will be leaving our agency at the end of the week and we are needing to make some decisions very quickly. I was wondering if there might be a way to contact you via email to gain some insight from you. I would appreciate it so very much.

I certainly do not want to make our urgency your burden. However, we do only have 2-3 days before we need to make a decision. We would be so grateful for a timely reply.

Kate W.

Tracy said...

Hi Kate W:
I definitely understand the urgency. I tried contacting you via an email address I found on your blog. If you don't get that, leave your email here as a comment (I won't publish it) and I'll get in touch with you.


The Jiu Jiu said...

My sister used to have the cleanest, most organized house of anyone in my immediate family, along with the most clearly laid-out schedule and little trouble sticking to it. Now her house looks like a typhoon got into an argument with a tornado with an earthquake as referee, and if she and the Pipsqueak are anything less than 15 minutes behind schedule we all consider it a not-so-minor miracle.

The Pipsqueak came home at 14 months so much of what you mention about Francesca sounds (and probably smells) familiar, even to a guy who's "just" an uncle (her favorite story is still the time she peed aaaaallll over me in Nanning). I've often said that my niece is proof that China is manufacturing nuclear-powered kids. Hang in there, I've been following youse guys online since Emmie was that frightened little stranger and what you're doing is totally amazing and you're doing it at least as well as any so-called "expert" could hope for.

Oh, and yes, a hair straightener (or curling iron, or hair dryer on "high") will indeed bake that food into the pants...I hope it's not too late...! LOL

Mary Littlehale said...

Hello! I absolutely love your blog. We are currently starting the process of filing out an application to adopt. I am feeling really drawn to Thal. I was wondering what agency you used? The one I am going to use said that Thal isn't that common and would take 18+ months. I thought it was a bit odd since you have 3 kiddos close in age. If you find the time, I would love to hear your thoughts. I can be reached at Thanks!

katie // a touch of teal said...

Hi Tracy,

I hope this note finds you well. I just wanted to reach out because I absolutely love reading your blog. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled on it as I am a 24 year old, single gal, but something about it really resonates me. You really helped open my heart to the idea of adopting in the future, and I appreciate you being so honest and open about all the heartaches that ultimately lead to a full heart of love. All three of your girls are SO cute, and I can’t wait to see what E, R, and F are up to next.

All the best,