What are you doing for Mother’s Day this year? Buying a card that extols mom as someone who fed you, changed you, rocked you to sleep, and cheered you on when you were learning to walk and talk, read and write? A beautiful bouquet of flowers? Maybe a special dinner at a favorite restaurant? These are all great, but why go with the conventional when no mom is conventional? Moms make us smile when we look at the world, and teach us to take pride in ourselves as members of this beautiful planet. My mom would say to me, “Don’t litter honey, the planet’s too pretty to do that to, and you deserve to live on a clean, healthy planet.”

Moms want us to know that we are wonderful just as we are, but they also help us set goals to improve ourselves on the inside and on the outside, too. And they always think about us in extraordinary ways like no one else can. Now that’s something to be thankful for.

Moms not only listen and solve problems, they’re also selfless in their role as “ma.” They love us with no strings attached, and I’ll even go so far to say that moms have magical powers. They can kiss your cut finger and make it feel better, and say just the right thing to lift your spirit when everything seems to be going against you. They can even convince you that it’s a good idea to eat your vegetables before reaching for dessert.

I believe that almost everything good about you has come from your mother’s unconditional love for you. For that, you should feel eternally grateful and return those sentiments. Why not tell her that? Here’s five unusual ways to do so:

  1. Thank your mother for comforting you during storms. Moms are like human tranquilizers, offering us a voice of calmness in ways that no one else can. When I was 4, thunderstorms terrified me. I scurried to the closet and hid till they passed. My mom would always join me in the darkness, put her arm around my shoulder, and assure me that we were going to be OK. Even today when a loud noise startles me, like a car backfiring, I flash back to my mom’s soothing words. What “storms” has your mother helped you weather? Thank her for being there!
  2. Thank your mom for making you feel valued. One of the greatest gifts your mother probably gave you was the feeling of being a valued human being. My mom loved bringing festivity to occasions when I accomplished something new; she also loved to spontaneously celebrate life by singing and dancing with me on a whim. I often think of the optimistic emotional climate in which I was raised, and I believe my encouraging attitude today is because of that. This is a great point to make this Mother’s Day when you say “thank you.”
  3. Thank her for the gift of wisdom. When I was born, my mother was 20 years older than me, 20 years smarter than me, and 20 years wiser. Somewhere along the way, I realized that my mother has always had this advantage and always will. It’s with this wisdom that mothers not only teach us how to flap our wings and fly on our own, but encourage us to soar as high as we can as they coax us out of the nest. I’m nearly 70 now, and I find that my mother still has those advantages over me. That’s worth mentioning on this Mother’s Day, isn’t it?
  4. Thank mom for delaying her dreams, and even giving them up so you could fulfill on yours. Yeah, Mother’s Day cards make fun of the diapering years and putting up with the terrible twos, terrible tweens and teens, and even terrible 20s. The reality, though, is that your mom helped you to dream things that you’d not yet dreamed, which gave new excitement to your unfolding life. This Mother’s Day, thank your mom for the hope that she gave you when you felt hopeless. She always saw your failures as temporary, and helped you to see that, too.
  5. Go beyond “thanking” — get out there and support your mother like she’s always supported you. Has your mother always wanted to take a trip someplace? Start a hobby? Write a book? There’s something she’s always wanted to do, and there’s some way you can help make it a reality. Your mom cared for you as though you were a golden treasure. Reverse the roles; it’s your turn to give back. Your world spins because of your mother; help your mother’s world to spin again because of you. Answer the call to serve by supporting your mom with what is important to her right now.

Finally, here’s a little trick I call “pay attention to Mom.” By that I mean don’t wait for May each year to celebrate Mother’s Day. (Who says that has to happen on an “official” holiday?) Why not celebrate it, say, on your birthday? That’s exactly what a fellow I met while traveling in India does. Every year on his birthday he sends a loving card to his mother. He explained that his birthday is the perfect occasion for honoring his passage from the non-physical world into the physical world, and his mother’s vital role in this event by playing the role of host. I’ve borrowed a page from that man’s book, and for years I’ve been sending my mother roses not only on Mother’s Day, but also on my birthday as a way of saying, “I love you, and thank you for hosting my arrival on this planet.” Try it — your mother will probably be thrilled!

So as this annual second Sunday in May comes to pass, don’t let the greeting card companies do your talking. Don’t let a gift card trek to a local store do your walking. Well, of course you can still do those things, but take the time to make the extra effort. Take a step toward investing in Mom the way she’s invested in you.

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