I was really lucky that my daughter Kate invited me to a lecture by Jane Goodall at F&M College (credit for picture). Dr. Goodall is an amazing person on so many accounts. But I was really impressed that while celebrating her 80th birthday, Dr. Goodall’s talk started out with genuine recognition, appreciation and admiration her mother’s role in her success. As we think about Mother’s Day, Dr. Goodall’s stories of her mother’s fostering Jane’s curiosity from a very young age, supporting her unconventional dreams, and helping her challenge conventional thinking about science and women’s roles are really inspiring. If you know someone who attended a lecture by Jane, ask them about Jane’s mother and I’ll bet they will remember her inspirational stories about bringing earthworms to bed, learning how a chicken lays an egg, and living in the bush with Jane on her first African interactions with the Chimpanzee’s she is now so strongly associated with.
I am always attentive to the unintended consequences of things. While her mother could not have known the specific outcomes of her actions, the consequences were clearly intended to help her daughter be successful and happy. They were based on a basic faith that providing a nurturing and supportive environment can cause great things. The happy but unintended part is the influence that Dr. Goodall then has had on the world. If ever a mother made a contribution to the world by through excellent parenting, Dr. Goodall’s mother is a memorable and inspirational example.