When I was younger (like, four or five) I was definitely, what my mother would call, 'a little madam'. I was assertive, I spoke my mind and stood my ground and I wasn't bothered if no-one wanted to play with me; I was happy in my own company.
And then I went to secondary school. And suddenly I had to have the right shoes, the right bag, the right version of the uniform and I had to listen to the right music.
And I stopped speaking my mind. I stopped standing my ground and I let people throw yoghurt at me on the school bus because I didn't dare assert myself against the 'cool' kids. In short, I cared too much about what other people thought of me to remind them that I was awesome.
And then I grew boobs and ceramic hair straighteners became a thing and I wasn't such a geeky, frizzy-haired teen with dental braces anymore.
So I became a bit more assertive and I stood my ground a little bit more.
But this new-found confidence was still only based on what was on the outside. And it annoyed me that my inside was the same as it had always been. It was just that now the braces were off and the hair was sleek, it was deemed more acceptable for me to stick up for myself.
And then I got pregnant.
And I got fat (90% pregnancy, 10% crisps). I didn't have my appearance to make me feel super confident. I couldn't drink wine (sob). All I had was me. Me and my insides and the amazing job they were doing of growing a human being.
And then I had kids.
And suddenly nothing mattered quite as much as these little humans I had grown and produced. And that made me prouder and more assertive than anything else in the world. At first, it was just regarding my parenting. I am only accountable to my kids for the way I parent and they still seem to be alive, thriving and happy so I think I'm quite bloody successful on that count. It doesn't matter if a stranger on the internet thinks I'm wrong for giving up breastfeeding at two months or if the woman in the supermarket thinks I should have co-slept until my kids were three years old.
Now I KNOW and I TRUST my intuition and my instincts.
And this means that sometimes I tell other kids off at soft play for pushing my child over. It means I don't explain my parenting choices to anyone anymore. It means I stick up for myself when someone suggests I indulge my children.
It means that this assertiveness and 'I don't give a shit' attitude has permeated all other areas of my life. It means I send cold food back in a restaurant without batting an eyelid. It means I complain if the bathroom smells in a hotel room. It means I accept nothing less than perfect for me and my family.
Because, even though we are not perfect ourselves (my 3 year old said “for F*ck's Sake” in a public swimming pool changing room last week - I don't know where he has possibly heard that.....ahem), we deserve perfect or as near as damn it.
And I'm not scared to say that anymore. Because, when I was thirteen, my worst fear might have been someone throwing yoghurt at me on a bus, but now? That has nothing on my worst fears of my children coming to harm. Even when I'm tired and they wake me up at night, or scream all day, or make me shout at my husband because we are tired and the kids are screaming. Even then, I will not tolerate anyone or anything making them feel threatened, anxious, scared or inferior.
My kids are not inferior to anyone.
And, just by being them, they have taught me the most valuable lesson in my life:
Neither I am.
Mummy is a badass again. Just like she was when she was four.