Lest you lads and ladies think I'm cheap, I'm focusing on things that involve effort rather than greenbacks. Anyone can buy something off a great Mother's Day list. It takes a little thought and planning to do what I'm suggesting. If you pull one (or all) of these off this Mother's Day, you're guaranteed to make her feel pretty darn good. (Plus, don't forget the obvious idea.)
1. Make her a card. Use some old pictures and colorful pens. Write a note about all the things you appreciate about her. Give it to her with a flower you found in your yard (or the neighbors).
2. Let her sleep-in in a quiet house. Get up early and, if you've got kids at home, take them out of the house. (If you've got a chime alert on the doors, turn it off before you go to bed the night before.) Leave a note in a place that she'll see it telling her to relax and that you'll be back later.
3. Leave random notes around the house where she'll find them. They can be "remember when", "Why I appreciate you", or "10 Reasons I love you" notes. Make several and hide them for her to find throughout the day. In the fridge, on her car seat, on the sink in the kitchen, on the couch, and under her pillow are good places.
4. Clean the house. I mean, really clean it. Get out the vacuum, do the windows, straighten up. Think about how your mom used to do it and clean it that way or better. If you can do it while she's out of the house and it can be a surprise, you get bonus points. If they are old enough, get the kids to help out as well. They owe her big time as well.
5. Create some home made gift certificates for her to redeem from you. Here are some suggestions: "A 30 minute back rub", "15 minute foot massage", "1 night without TV", "A sleep-in morning", "Mom's evening out", etc. The idea is to provide a couple options she would enjoy.
6. Plan a family afternoon. You can do it at a park or at home but do something with everyone. Pack some snacks for you, your wife, and the kids. Pack a bag of extra cloths (diapers, if you need them), wipes, drinks, etc. Leave your cell phone or blackberry at home and spend the afternoon playing and talking with your family.
7. Have your kids paint/color a card for their mom. If they are older, make sure they write a thoughtful note. This is one of those times of year when it is definitely the thought that counts.
These ideas should not be considered good for only the second Sunday in May. Feel free to pull one or more of these ideas out throughout the year. A little out of the blue surprise is always welcome.