As I get older, Mother's Day begins to take on new meaning.
Many of my friends have become mothers in the last couple of years and it's an experience seeing the change in them as a result.
Take, for example, one long night of liquid-enhanced fun that took place several years ago. It ended with me and my college roommate having a drunken foot race down Arch Street at 3 a.m. I ran thinking I looked as graceful as a cheetah when in reality, I was just stumbling down the sidewalk before tipping over into a grassy area. Needless to say, my friend won the race.
I can think of plenty of stories like that one to tell about this young woman who became a mother just last year. She will celebrate Mother's Day tomorrow with her daughter and husband.
I have yet to be added to the motherhood club, but I know I've changed right along with her. It's been years since I participated in a drunken foot race. (Some changes don't require babies.) I go to bed earlier and make more plans than I used to.
And while my friend no longer stumbles through the door at 2 a.m. wanting to go for a swim in the lake, she has also changed in ways much more subtle.
You can see the difference in her in the way she holds her daughter while talking about her vegetable garden, in the way her eyes seem to always be trained on her little girl, no matter who is holding her or what she's doing. They're in the way she sees the world, taking notice of how the world sees women, and therefore will see her daughter as she grows.
She has a new fierceness about her, a new boldness that says if you mess with her family you mess with her. And you don't want to mess with her.
What an experience it must be, to know this little person is completely dependent on you, how tough that must make you feel, how protective. And at the same time, how terrified.
That's one of several reasons I have not been added to the motherhood club. I often think myself right out of doing something, and that's probably the case here, but it really feels like a daunting task to take on the responsibility of caring for new life. Too daunting.
I don't believe that all women must have babies to fully embrace what it means to be a woman. But I do think it's an experience that will have a profound change upon a person, regardless of their gender.
I've often wondered what my own mother was like before she had kids. I know now she must have changed in the same ways I've seen my own friends change these past couple of years.
The thing is, that should have been obvious, that my mother has not been exactly the same person her entire life. None of us are. But it took seeing those changes happening in people around me to realize that my mother did not just have an impact on me.
I, too, had an impact on her.
So then, it begs the question: What changes will my kids bring about in me?
That's a question that can only be answered with time and experience, a lesson I'm finding life teaches over and over again.
So here's to all the mothers out there, old, new and somewhere in between. I hope you get the chance tomorrow to take some time to think about what being a mother has meant to you.
And of course, that those kids of yours take the time to say thanks for all that you have meant to them.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.