As I browse through, eye the website for Edible Arrangements and lazily wander through Bed Bath and Beyond, I keep mumbling the same thing to myself. What kind of stuff does Mom need? What does she even like? She already has the most amazing and carefully collected set of kitchenware and home goods. She has always had an eye for what should go in each room and where, for what could make an empty corner become a cozy reading nook. The truth is that, luckily, my mom doesn’t need more material goods; not another pan, not another gadget, not another sterling silver jewelry set. When I call and ask, “Mom, what do you like most in the world?” she answers quickly and always in the same way. “You!” she says. That gives me an idea. Maybe I need to focus on what to tell her, rather than what to give her this Mother’s Day. Here’s what I’d like to say, feel free to join me:

1. Thank You.

Our mothers raised us the best they knew how, and unless you’re a mother now, you’ll never fully get what that means. I think we assume that our mothers are simply older, wiser, slightly different looking versions of ourselves, and the truth is, that’s not even a little true. Sure, we may have the same laugh and the same nose, but our brains, thoughts and experiences vary greatly. The truth is, we’ll never know all that our mothers have done for us. Motherhood is a thankless job in the literal sense; I know my mom would say that her children growing into their own happy, healthy adulthoods is its own kind of “thanks.” Here’s an idea: Why not call up mom on Sunday and start the conversation with a plain and genuine thank you.

2. What’s New?

ometimes it feels so good to get asked this question. Two decades ago, my mom would greet me at the bus stop each day, and after a hug would come a “so, what’s new?” The opportunity to pour my tiny heart out to a pair of adult ears was sometimes all I needed to come to my own epiphanies about friends, tough math stuff, or how to spend my free time after homework was done. This was never lost on me through the years. As I got older my monologues focused on college, my job, my rent, my health. Offering a similar ear up to Mom might give her the chance to unload in a way that she couldn’t before. As we all age together, the things on our minds will become more and more relatable; and an open ear is rarely a bad thing.

3. Let’s GO!

Talking on the phone is one thing, being face to face is another! If seeing your mom is a doable option (ie: you don’t need to get on JetBlue to plan a visit), make some spur-of-the-moment plans to do something fun together. When I was home with my parents last summer, my fiance and I challenged them both to a game of miniature golf. When the 18th hole was approaching, it was my mom who whispered that we should scoop up our neon golf balls so that we could do the other course without telling the kids at the desk. Seeing my mom and dad try their best from green patch to green patch is something I never thought to ask for, but am so happy to have witnessed.

4. What Were You Like At My Age?

My mom was married, had a house, had my brother and was almost pregnant with me at 26, the age I am now. I just made a microwave chocolate cake in a mug that turned out weird and I still ate it. Our mothers offer an awesome and humbling glance at how things change; how milestones morph and how life expectancies alter with time. Ask what your mother did for fun in her 20s and who her Benedict Cumberbatch-type crush was. Ask her what her everyday clothes looked like and how she styled her hair. These kinds of details may seem insignificant, but they’re a doorway into a larger conversation about her life before you were around.

5. I Love You.

It’s so easy to consider these 3 words unnecessary; a casual sign-off that you outgrew in high school. This year, realize what those words mean. You’re letting someone know that you think about her and love her all the time, every day, even when you let her calls go to voicemail, or when you’re lost in your own monsoon of a work week. You’re saying I love you, not just because it’s Mother’s Day, but because she’s your mom. Sometimes, it’s the little things that mean the most.