In this first of three podcasts on the theme of motherhood, Barbara and David look at Maria Montessori’s view of the role of the mother in child development. Maria was a mother herself, but in difficult circumstances. She was one of the first women in Italy to qualify as a doctor. As she specialised in paediatrics, Maria was appointed co-director of a training institute in Rome for professionals working with mentally-disabled children. She and the institute’s other director, another young doctor called Giuseppe Montesano, happened to fall in love and have a baby together. Because Giuseppe’s high-born family would not allow them to marry, Maria had to give up the baby, named Mario, to the father’s family for them to raise. So Maria Montessori’s motherhood was a secret, even to her son, until they re-united when Mario was much older. Some think this experience of ‘motherhood denied’ may have influenced Maria Montessori’s decision to dedicate her life’s work to children.