I'm almost embarrassed to admit the shock I felt when I began to realize that the brunette was not at all like the big blonde. From the very beginning, they have been polar opposites, but as my only parenting experience when the brunette was born had been with her older sister, my frame of reference as to what to expect from a baby was quite narrow. The big blonde was a horrible sleeper, only ever sleeping for stretches of 45 minutes at a time, usually only in someone's arms, and she was noisy and fussy, and required constant attention and entertainment - from a human, not a baby toy. I assumed this was just how my babies would be, until, of course, the brunette arrived. She was four weeks early (and perfectly healthy), and after a frustrating week in the hospital, bringing her home was such a sigh of relief, and although I was nervous about having two people to care for, I was confident that I had learned enough from my first baby that I could get ahead of whatever trouble this one might muster up. I had no idea that it would be useless - the brunette was a breeze of a baby. She was peaceful, slept in her bed (for good chunks of the night!), and was quite content to sit in the baby swing and observe her more...outgoing sister. Aside from gold medaling in diaper explosions, she was the quiet yin to her sister's boisterous yang. Of course, as she grew, so did her personality (and natural born tendency for the dramatic - on that account, all my girls are equals), and as I finally stopped thinking "your sister never did this", I began to see that while the girls were both of my husband and I, they were definitely not always of each other. As soon as I got past comparing the two, in all aspects, it became so much easier to enjoy them for their differences, and this became of great value when we brought home a third girl (and soon a fourth) because I was able to just see this little person as someone completely new and different from the very beginning, brushing aside precedents set by older siblings.
Tomorrow, the brunette will be five. I have so enjoyed watching all of my kids grow, and while I always loved them as babies, I am finding that as they turn into "real kids" they get so much more interesting. The brunette is no exception, and her uniqueness in our family is what makes her such a treasure. She is a remarkable blend of passion and compassion, loving things completely (Peter Pan primarily), and giving love freely. She wears her heart on her sleeve (and can easily read yours) and both praise and insult affect her deeply. She is the first to offer help, the first to obey, the first to snuggle, the first to wake up in the morning, and the first to fall asleep at night. She loves Star Wars and the Denver Broncos (mostly Peyton Manning) and learning how to use tools with her dad and how to cook with me. She twirls the big blonde's hair when they read books together, gets the small blonde's pajamas out for her at bedtime, and is the only one (don't tell her sisters) who has been patient enough to actually feel the new baby kick. She folds laundry, adds numbers in her head, loves fancy dresses but not fancy hair, is not "a chicken girl" (or any meat, really), and wouldn't touch a frog if her life depended on it. She makes silly faces and laughs with her whole body, has sparkly eyes, and can make a threat that will have you thinking twice about crossing her. When she grows up, she wants to be a firefighter, and a dancer, and a pilot, and a chef, and a saint, and I am confident she'd be proficient at any of those. She thinks of others often, openly misses those she loves when they're not around, and is easily contented to sit quietly by herself. For a little while. She is nothing like anyone I have ever met, and I am so thankful, because if she were, she wouldn't be the brunette I have loved for being herself from the very beginning.