As I was running last night, having put Eve to bed, I realised that much of what I think a good mother should be has been shaped by some of the really excellent role models I have had the privilege to meet. This is a mixed blessing, it is probably the source of so much of my working mother guilt that I have had few really excellent high flying working mother role models, but they have also shown me the type of mother I want to be. My own mother reads this so I won't describe her, she knows she has been a fantastic role model and I consider the strength of our relationship into adulthood (I was not an easy child and am no easier to deal with as an adult!) testimony to her skill and patience. However, as I was running the mother of one of my ex boyfriends popped into my mind.
D, my ex, was lovely. Kind, gentle, adored me. It was destined to fail, even though he had a motorbike! He was one of 4 brothers and his mother, M, had always wanted a girl but never had one. They lived in a glorious old farmhouse in a village just a little too far from a mainline rail station to be considered London commuter belt. His family were very religious, I met D at a Christian summer camp, but by no means stiffling or judgmental in their faith. M had made it her mission to bring up her children surrounded by as much love as possible. Even though her sons were often quite errant in their ways, the one I dated especially so, she always met everything with complete and unconditional love. This wasn't to mean there wasn't any discipline, there was, but it was metered out with such fairness and kindness that it just seemed to be more effective somehow. She met any news, good or bad, with a big hug and kind words. I adored her and she really liked me. When I was accepted at Oxford to read theology I think she may have been as proud as my own parents.
There was no expectation of achievement but just a desire for each child to be happy.
If I can give Eve half the feeling of support, love and sense of infinite possibility for happiness that she conveyed to her children then I will consider it a job well done.