I suddenly feel like my second child has been invisible for the past eleven months, and that only this week I've opened my eyes and noticed her! I'm not saying that I haven't adored her, interacted with her and enjoyed her all this time, it's just that so much of my conscious thought is taken up with my first - where to take her, what to do with her - I feel like I have been less than thorough with my attention to and awareness of my second.
A friend said she sometimes looks at her second and thinks "Oh hello, and who are you"? I know exactly what she means.
So why has this happened? Is it because Number One is more demanding than Number Two? Is it because it's easier to relate to a child who can use language than one who can't or is it the simple fact that up until now my second has just been a baby, a gorgeous, smiley, obliging bundle who's known no better than to sit patiently in her pram or on the floor, fitting in with whatever activity goes on around her.
The upside to this recent awareness of my daughter is that I feel a bit like a kid with a new toy. I am getting such pleasure in watching her and getting to know her. But of course the downside is that it's yet one more outlet for the eternal "Mother's Guilt" so many of us seem to suffer when we question whether we could have done something differently or better.
But now, as she approaches her end of her first year, she is changing. No longer cocooned in the passiveness of her infant months, Number Two is beginning to assert her own requirements on our day to day adventures. I am learning to choose destinations that offer something for both, wait for two swings to become free not just one and ask for two balloons from the nice ladies at the local shopping centre.
For her, this is the start of becoming an individual. From now on she has no intention of remaining invisible, she is beginning to make her mark on the world and in this family, and I am going to enjoy watching her do it.