Part of the 30-Day Challenge, Day 4.

I’ve realized that all the cliches about adult children learning to appreciate their parents are true.  With each passing year, and especially now that I’m a parent myself, I’m more and more grateful for and appreciative of my parents.  For this post, and because it’s almost Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share some lessons my parents have taught me that I hope to pass on to my own son.

1. Help other people.  My parents both chose careers in which they helped other people, and they take that responsibility seriously.  My dad has shared more than once that he’s proud that his children also work in careers that involve helping others.  And I want my son to understand that ultimately, his mom and I do what we do because we want to help others, too.

2. Family first.  Family has always been essential to my parents.  Holidays were always spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  We visited my grandparents all the time when I was growing up.  We vacationed with our extended family during the summer.  So far, the tradition has been carried on to the next generation, as we make sure our little man gets as much time with his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as he can get–including holidays and vacations.

3. Follow your arrow.  So they didn’t couch it exactly in those terms, the message was always clear.  My mom and dad told me over and over again that they just want me to be happy.  And even though my life has taken a lot of turns that they–and I–never might have expected, they’ve always, in the end, been supportive, trusting me to make decisions that would lead to my happiness–not anyone else’s ideas about what I should want or be.  That freedom is a great gift, and one I hope I can give to my own child in turn.

4. But take care of yourself.  There’s only one thing my parents have ever expressly forbidden me to do–ride a motorcycle.  Fortunately, I have no such desires.  Coming from a family of physicians, I was taught early the importance of taking good care of yourself.   Even though it’s easy as a mom to let everyone else’s needs take over, I find that I’m happiest when I make time to recharge mentally and emotionally, and when I spend time working out or cooking a healthy dinner, I just straight up feel better.  And now as a mom, I remind myself that when I make time for myself, I’m setting a great example for my son to follow.

Certainly my parents have taught me many, many other things along the way, but these are the lessons that are most pressing in my life right now, and that I’m consequently currently the most grateful for.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.  I love you.