First, let me start by saying, \u201cHappy Mother\u2019s Day!\u201d I may be going out on a limb here, but my guess is if you\u2019re reading a parenting column, I\u2019ve got a 50-50 chance you\u2019re a mother. For all you fathers, hang in there, June\u2019s just around the corner. Most of the time in this space I talk about my kids and (admittedly) ask for your advice about whatever parenting challenges or childhood stages our family seems to be experiencing at the moment. I thought in honor of Mother\u2019s Day maybe I\u2019d switch things up just a bit. Today I\u2019m going to talk about how the kids have changed me, instead of how I\u2019m trying to shape them. It\u2019s undeniable that having children changes you, but I don\u2019t know how often anybody stops to think about the ways they\u2019re different as people after the ankle-biters enter the scene. Before you get too worried, I\u2019m not referring to stretch marks or physical changes \u2014 I\u2019ll leave that to the small discussion groups mothers tend to get into from time to time, generally in the presence of a woman experiencing her first pregnancy. Personally, I\u2019ve had to learn to think faster \u2014 and slower \u2014 than I did before. I\u2019ve got to think fast enough to stay two steps ahead of whatever argument the kids are making so I don\u2019t get boxed into a verbal corner and end up with \u201cBecause I said so!\u201d as my only remaining retort. But I\u2019ve also had to learn to think slower. I have to stop and go back to the first time I tried to create a paragraph topic sentence or understand the concept of multiplication. I\u2019ve been able to vicariously relive discovering new things, whether it\u2019s the way a slug leaves a slime trail behind or the fact fruit browns when exposed to air. Having my own children made me more accepting of other people\u2019s kids, especially when they\u2019re clearly tired and 0.1 seconds from a meltdown. I\u2019ve discovered I have an aversion to ceaseless noise. I appreciate silence in a way I never before thought possible. Sleep rates as a preferred free time activity. Other than a few steadfast friends I\u2019ve had for years, most of my adult interaction off work hours comes from the parents of my children\u2019s friends and teammates. Nobody else understands the dilemma quite the same way \u2014 or is as uniquely positioned to help out in a jam. Talking to my mother-in-law, she often mentions women whose children are the same age as her sons. The connections made on the sidelines of the ball field or on the sidewalks of playgrounds seem to be lasting. I hope they are, anyway. I don\u2019t think twice about picking up someone else\u2019s child and shuttling them to or from some activity, though once I would have been worried someone would think I was a creepy predator person. Now, I\u2019m just the mom on taxi duty. I have opinions on a wide range of places and products that I willingly share at the drop of hat if asked which brand of diapers worked best or how kid-friendly a particular location is. My view of world events or political stances is focused through the lens of how it will affect my children. I\u2019ve noticed that as my children age, my focus and priority scale of outside events changes. I\u2019m no longer concerned about child safety seat regulations, though I once followed them closely. I\u2019m interested in discussions of school year calendars and I can see teen driving regulations on the horizon. I don\u2019t know what I\u2019ll learn a year from now. I just know I look forward to every day, every change, and every new experience with my kids \u2014 and hope I remember as many moments along the way as I can. Let\u2019s be honest, I\u2019ve been making up this parenting thing as I go along ever since my son was born. I know there\u2019s more experienced parents out there and folks with different ideas. Respond to my column by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might see your thoughts in print in an upcoming issue of the Pioneer.