I still remember the day.

As a little girl, I went looking for my mom early one Sunday afternoon and was alarmed to find her sobbing in bed. Her demeanor frightened me because she is the capable one, the person with all the answers, the emotional center of the family. She finally answered my bewildered questions with, “It’s Mother’s Day and nobody remembered.”

Even today my chest tightens with the emotion of that moment: I turn and run through the house, tears streaming down my face, past my brother and fly out the back door desperate for the one person who could set this right: my dad. He drops his tools and races past me, headed the way I had just come, for their bedroom. Then we kids are summoned and of course there are apologies and, eventually, flowers. My memory fades there, but the pain of that moment lives on.

So now, as a mother and stepmother, Mother’s Day is a loaded day for me. Probably for many of you, too. I’m not terrified my family will forget — my husband knows the story — but I certainly understand the pressure. But let’s be realistic, we mothers really just want to be remembered and appreciated. Because we know there is only so much you can do or say in one day that truly expresses your gratitude. That said, we should all spend some time this Sunday thanking our mothers.

Thank her for giving you the look, the one that tells you she knows. The look that can both sear and save.

Thank her for the eyes in the back of her head, because let’s face it: she has them and she saw that. And she still loves you.

Thank her for asking what you were doing when she already knew.

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Thank her for all the sleepless nights when she lay awake worrying about the thing you already forgot by morning.

Thank her for telling you everything will be OK when she didn’t know that it would be.

Thank her for continuing the conversation after what you just said to her.

Thank her for accepting all your apologies and for the ones she gave you before you knew you deserved them.

Thank her for showing up and helping you and not telling your father about that thing.

Thank her for looking at you with the kind of love that opens your heart enough to give that look to your own children.

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I’ll never forget that day I felt I broke my mom’s heart. Afterward, I remember my dad telling us it was his fault. I can’t imagine his pain, which carried not only the guilt of letting his wife down, but also the weight of his obviously upset children. I forgave him long before I absolved myself. Of course, our mother got out of bed and carried on, forgiving us all immediately in the way that mothers do. Which is another thing to thank your mother for: recognizing a truly remorseful child and never bringing up that thing again.

We mothers come in all types and into your life in many ways, but we all share a love for you that exceeds time and space. Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow moms. And to the rest of you, this is my reminder: There is a person waiting to be appreciated this Mother’s Day.

And all it takes is a thank you.