Sunday morning, Noah woke up at 5:27 a.m., bouncing into our bedroom with a valiant attempt at a whisper:”It's Christmas!It's Christmas!” Luke and I, up late with our last minute “You wrap these and I'll start putting this dollhouse together” Santa-parent teamwork prep, pried our eyes open and hefted heavy, sleep-deprived legs over the edge of the bed, propelled by the sheer force of six-year-old excitement and also the anticipation of watching a three year old discover what was waiting for her in the dimly tree-lit living room. We crept into Rosie's room, coaxing her awake with a gentle rub of the back and softly-worded reminders of just what day it was, while Noah waited in the hallway, nearly vibrating with the suspense of it all.
Admittedly, watching your children open their gifts on Christmas morning is a strange time to have thoughts of being done having kids, but as Isat there on the floor, grinning like a fool, eyes tearing up (of course), Ithought about what next year would be like when the scene was changed: a 7-year-old boy, 4-year-old girl and 7-month-old girl, all sprawled on the carpet with their stocking contents dumped out and mouths full of chocolate (OK, maybe not the baby for that one, but you know what Imean), and it struck me that what Iwas seeing was our whole family in that future vignette. Not just a new and different family, but one that felt rounded off. Complete. All here.
Ialways imagined that the feeling of being finished with the creating of our family would feel sad, like the end of something. But that wasn't what it was like in that moment. It just felt right, like fitting the last piece in a puzzle. Hanging the last stocking on the hooks above the fireplace.
The fullness of Christmas morning cemented to me that for our family, five is where we'll land. We'll have this baby and then move on to the next phase of parenthood. We'll raise three kids and watch them grow into adults. We'll be Ellis, party of five, always odd-numbered, parents always outnumbered. Prime numbers of kids, adults and members, all three.
And it most certainly isn't an ending. Next year amidst the wrapping paper and boxes and crumpled tissue paper all over the rug, I'll look around and know that we have finally all arrived. And that it's only just the beginning.