Our cover star, Myleene Klass, made me laugh and really struck a chord when she told writer Cole Moreton, ‘I need to be the kick-ass girl for my daughters that their mother thinks she is.’ I have not endured anything like the challenges Myleene has in recent years – a very public divorce, finding herself a single mother to two young girls virtually overnight, and the agony of four heartbreaking miscarriages.
I can, however, still relate to this sentiment. It was quite a long time ago now that I achieved that heavenly state of being where you realise you can’t control what other people think of you and, what’s more, you don’t much care. It’s quite freeing, isn’t it, when you finally stop actively trying to please everyone? It’s a wonderful, mature milestone we reach – usually in our 30s – when it hits you that other people’s opinions of you are simply none of your business, so crack on and just be you.
But then I became a mother to a girl. And I have found that I really do worry and care about what she thinks of me. Well, to be clear – putting aside for a second that what I wear and how I breathe, laugh, sleep and say hello to people are apparently all embarrassingly incorrect – I mean I care about what she thinks of my character and my actions.
She wasn’t even three when she said to me, ‘Mummy, you always say things like you hate the way you look. Why do you say that?’ It was such a kick in the behind, because I didn’t realise I was doing it. In that moment she taught me that she was watching and listening intently. To everything. It made me resolve to think about how my actions read to her. From the little things – like swallowing down on my own body-consciousness and pretending to feel just fine walking around in a bikini on the beach – to the big moments: like showing her, when I was bereft at losing a job a few years ago, that people can have a setback and dust themselves off.
I’d imagine that so many of you are feeling watched in your own homes as we figure out how to keep on rolling with the punches dealt out by this pandemic. It’s a fine line to tread: we want our children to know it’s OK to feel sad and worried by it all. But at the same time, we want to show them what resilience looks like.
I’ve known Myleene for more than ten years – she actually really is the tough broad she thinks she is. I’m going to hang that quote up on my computer and look at it whenever I need a pep talk from that pint-sized powerhouse of a woman.