Right from the word go, I thought about the part birth order would play in shaping my children. There are long running jokes in my family about how my little brother got away with murder, but how I always had to do things the best. I'm very eager to please, whereas my brother is more independent. I have no doubt that your place in the family pecking order shapes your personality, and I was intrigued as to how it would mould my own children.
When I was pregnant with my beautiful girl I was already conscious of avoiding the dreaded "second child syndrome" where they get half as many photos as the first born, and nowhere near the attention. If anything I went the complete opposite way when my second child was born, and she has been photographed and documented and recorded even more than her big brother was... and that's saying something.
But the truth was that people didn't seem to be as excited about my pregnancy with her, and when she was born we weren't inundated with visitors, cards and gifts the way we had been as first time parents. In honesty that suited us, we had our hands and hearts full with two little people this time around. But I can remember during a particularly hormonal moment when she was very new, wondering why people didn't seem very interested in her arrival. It sort of hurt. We'd been desperate to proudly show off our beautiful boy when he was born; we wanted to sound trumpets and shout about how proud we were of him. And we felt the same way about our daughter, it just didn't seem like everyone else was quite so keen to hear it.
Of course our families and close friends wanted to meet her, to get to know her, and hear all about her first bath and first smiles. But when people visited us, the attention was still very much focused on her big brother. I understand why... completely! When compared with a walking, talking, cheeky and charming toddler; a baby is pretty dull. And our little man, being the typical first born that he is, was used to being the centre of attention and likes that spotlight. He is confident and friendly and will talk to anyone, so he's kind of hard to ignore. Plus our beautiful baby girl was a total mama's girl, she was happiest with me and she could be pretty unhappy or downright grumpy when she wasn't. So I happily sat wrapped up in our mummy-daughter glow, and let my big boy take on the world one cheeky smile at a time.
And until recently those roles have remained. Roles that we stumbled into... all of us. Of our beautiful boy being the chatty and charming creature that he always is, and our beautiful baby girl staying nearer to us, quietly taking it all in and making everyone else work hard for one of her smiles.
But over the last few months things have changed a little. And as our lovely little lady's cracking personality has begun to show more and more, she's competing a little more for that spotlight. Fortunately it's a spotlight that her big brother is happy to share, but it's been interesting to see how her changing has changed everyone else. People have come to expect the charm from our son, but seem more surprised by our daughter and what a really sweet and smart little girl she is becoming.
In actual fact, I too am constantly surprised by our daughter. Maybe its because she was quite needy as a baby, maybe it's because I too fell into the mistake of having my attention grabbed by our super little man, or maybe it's just that she's my baby and it's hard to let go of thinking about her like that. But this little lady is a total fire cracker, and it totally crept up on me.
Several times in a day I will exclaim words along the lines of "Isn't she just the best kid ever?" or "I just can't believe how clever she is" or "I think she might be the cutest little girl to ever walk the earth."It's like I literally can't quite get over how brilliant she is, and that that fact leaves me a little bit thunderstruck.
We recently started potty training, and I came at it not expecting a lot. Her big bro potty trained at 23 months, so with her at 25 months I just kind of felt like maybe we should give it a go. I wasn't expecting a great deal because she isn't as verbal as her brother was at that age and I just wasn't sure she was going to understand. But she has blown me away. This girl is bright as a button, and has picked it up like a total trooper; in fact she's made it all seem pretty easy.
And she's made me feel a little ashamed of myself, that I didn't have the high expectations of her that maybe I should have had. Maybe I've just let her be the baby for too long, or maybe I've let her older brother's achievements overshadow hers a little. But that ends now.
I've always known that this little miss of mine was a little sunshine, I've referred to her as such since she was born. And I think it's time we really acknowledged how much she shines. So I'm going to stop letting her big brother run ahead, while holding her hand and holding her back. I'm going to make a point of making sure people know that she's a walking, talking clever little bundle of charm just like her big brother is. That she is a total superstar too, even if she hasn't always shouted about that fact.
She can be whoever she wants to be, this lovely girl of mine. Nobody is going to dull her shine. Nobody is putting my baby in the corner.