Though it's looking increasing unlikely that we'll have a mother as president next year, it has been exciting to have the first woman and mother to be so close to earning the Democratic nomination.
The fact that so many voters _ and not only women _ have supported Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy says quite a lot about how our nation has changed over the past several decades.
But as this Mother's Day 2008 arrives Sunday, the lights have certainly dimmed on the possibility of a woman and mother moving into the White House not as a first lady, but as commander-in-chief.
The status of women as mothers has changed as much as their status in society.
The origin of Mother's Day can be traced to 100 years ago today, when Anna Jarvis organized observances in Grafton, W.Va., and Philadelphia on May 10, 1908. Within six years, Congress was convinced to make the observance a national event.
Over the decades, the day has become more commercial, but hardly a person is going to say something bad about anything to do with mothers. Mother's Day is one special day that will always escape even the worst cynics.
The nature of ``mother'' and motherhood, however, has changed enormously during the past century.
For one thing, in 1914, when the government assigned national significance to a day honoring mothers, women _ and therefore, mothers _ could not vote. They had to wait another six years for that right _ and in a democracy it is indeed a right _ to be granted.
Since women were virtually second-class citizens without that right to vote, it is understandable why Jarvis might try to coordinate some kind of recognition for motherhood, since even men had to acknowledge its importance.
And for a woman at that time, being a wife and a mother provided much of her meaning in life. Now, not nearly as many women are having children as those did just three decades ago, let alone 100 years ago.
Today, just more than 80 percent of women aged 40 to 44 are mothers, compared to 90 percent in that age group back in 1976. Granted, a few women may not become moms until after 44, but it is clear that significantly fewer women are mothers these days.
A century ago, a husband usually offered financial security and the only honorable way to fulfill the innate desire for children. But, after women were permitted full citizenship and since have demanded a stake in the economy and a voice in politics, that has changed.
It seems the need for a husband or man isn't as deep as was supposed, and the desire for children isn't as innate as was thought.
Back in 1970, the average age at which a woman had her first child was 21. That age now has jumped to 25 as many women start careers first and families later. And to some extent it socially follows that women _ and men, too _ also are putting off marriage until they are older.
In fact, marriage and babies at an increasing pace don't necessarily go hand-in-hand as they did in previous generations. In the local area, about one of three births in 2005 was out of wedlock.
That means many couples are starting families without going through the formality of civil marriage, and also that some women are choosing to have children without a husband or the child's father in the household.
But it wasn't as if, with the dawn of women's liberation 40 years ago, that it was just a matter of choice for them to jump into the spectrum of careers. The changing economy needed women as much as women wanted more out of life than a man and children.
Now that Hillary's presidential star is waning, even more attention will be focused on Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee. And, since Obama is half black, we can note that it's as hard to imagine the bumpy road African-Americans have taken as it is the winding path of women.
It was 150 years ago, after the Civil War, a half-century before Jarvis' radical idea of honoring mothers, that a black man was upgraded from 60 percent of a citizen, as specified in our Constitution, to a whole person and therefore given the right to vote.
Black men were granted the right to vote five constitutional amendments earlier than women, but they've had a much tougher time making that citizenship and that right to vote a reality.
Now, after knowing for months that history could be made with either the first woman or the first black president, it looks like the latter is going to postpone the opportunity for having a mom in the White House.
And, this time at least, the nation may be better off for it.
Cary Brunswick is managing editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at 432-1000, ext. 217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.