Happy Mother's Day. It's the day to pamper mothers with flowers, gifts, chocolates and meals that exceed the weekly recommended dietary allowance of sugar and fat grams.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average of $168.94 on mom today, up 11 percent from last year's $152.52, according to National Retail Federation's Mother's Day consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, which evaluates consumer trends.

The survey says gift givers will splurge on a special meal, such as brunch or dinner ($3.5 billion), flowers ($2.3 billion), gift cards ($2 billion), clothing or clothing accessories ($1.7 billion), and personal-service gifts, like a day at the spa ($1.5 billion).

That's good news for restaurants and retailers.

Motherhood, however, is something that is experienced and should be acknowledged every day. (I use "motherhood" and "mom," as an overarching term to include step- and adoptive mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and other special people who have enriched our lives.)

From a mom with 30 years of experience to dads and kiddos out there - here's what mom really wants:

• Something from the heart. Here's a secret: Tucked away in the bottom drawer of many moms' dressers are treasured mementos - kid-made cards, macaroni necklaces, art projects. We're suckers for that kind of stuff.

Most moms don't want you to bust your budget on a fancy-schmancy gift or meal. No caring mother wants to put a child or loved one in financial straits.

A Mother's Day outing didn't work for us when our little ones quickly became cranky, restless, bored, tired and/or annoyed with one another before the salad round of the buffet.

I appreciate gifts I probably would not buy for myself, especially when the giver knows my tastes and preferences. However, last year's bottle of Eternity cologne - I love that you know that was my fragrance for years - remains unopened because I seldom wear cologne anymore. Mom might want something fairly mundane and practical, say new walking shoes. (Hint. Hint.)

• Moments. Creating a happy, Norman Rockwell-like memory is the well-intended goal of a Mother's Day gathering. Probably not going to happen.

Memories of motherhood are made nursing a baby in the still darkness of the middle of the night; rocking a feverish child to sleep; hearing "I love you" spoken for the first time; reading a favorite book over and over ... and over and over; seeing the exuberance and joy of a task accomplished; a bright smile and a "thank you" from a usually less-than-grateful teenager; watching your child cross the stage to pick up an award or diploma.

My son had surgery at 13 months old. When he was wheeled out of recovery in a huge, cagelike bed, my small, groggy, pitiful-looking baby saw me and instantly smiled, as if he knew all was OK. That smile, etched in my mind forever, was a true Mother's Day moment.

• A phone call. Mom (and grandma and special person, too) wants to talk. Not a text or an email. Do not expect her to check Facebook or Twitter. Do not answer "fine" to questions.

Mothers want to share their children's feelings, aspirations, worries, frustrations and views. Most moms love the details of their kids' everyday lives and happenings.

• Respect. The best gift on Mother's Day and every day is acknowledgement and appreciation of Mom's role as juggler, scheduler, nurturer, counselor and sandwich-maker.

Motherhood is not entered into with aspirations of glamour or glory. It's hard, often icky, work.

With the exception of inattentive or abusive mothers, most put their children first and wipe up poop and vomit with good humor and an open heart; will skip sleep to finish a Halloween costume; will relearn long division; will drop anything and everything if their child needs them.

• Opportunity. Mothers don't want to raise children. They want to raise competent, happy, self-sufficient adults who have the opportunity to define and live productive, rewarding lives.

Honor Mom on Mother's Day and every day by living your life to the best of your ability, making good, thoughtful choices, taking hold of your dreams and making them reality.

That's what Mom really wants. And a phone call.

Contact Ann Brown at abrown@azstarnet.com