Of all the unpleasant tasks in this world, I rank shopping for Mother’s Day cards right up there with root canals and toilet scrubbing.

Be they 99 cent value or $7.99 and vellum covered, it’s the same awkward choice every single year.

Saccharine, sanctimonious, or smarmy.

Not a one among them fitting for the woman who put up with my years of teen assholery turned twenty something arrogance.

The closest I got was year before last. A simple tugboat on the front and this inside:

“For all those years I was a little ship. Happy Mother’s Day.”

She threw her head back and laughed at that one. A soulful laugh, from deep within, acknowledging what can never be distilled into a few lines of scripty font:

Motherhood is the mother lode of ALL THE FEELS.

To try and sanitize that is to cheapen it.

For all its beauty and bliss, there are the not so pretty parts.

The all important parts complete with misunderstandings and hurt feelings and hard conversations filled with unvarnished truths.

These are the bookends to the fluff that card manufacturers would have us believe fill many a mother’s hours and days and months and years.

It’s not the birthday party planning, meal making, errand running moments (paper mache volcanoes and styrofoam solar systems and poster board projects, oh my!) that matter.

It’s that when the going gets thorny and awkward (and who are we kidding, if familial relationships didn’t occasionally wander into this territory, Friendsgiving wouldn’t even be a thing), she plays the long game.

Maybe yours is the picture perfect family of Mother’s Day advertising everywhere, and you’ll celebrate Mom with her favorite perfume over a delicious brunch where you are not subject to a 90 minute wait.

Or maybe your family is more like mine, and there’s no such card for all the feelings this day stirs within you.

What I do know to be true and worthy of telling my own mom out loud is this:

The basic needs years, I worshipped you.

The tween and teen years, I tolerated you.

In the woman-child journey since, I’ve loved you.

And today more than any other day that has preceded it, I finally and fully grasp how damn lucky I am to have you.