The further I move into my journey as a parent, the more I appreciate the things my parents did right and the lessons they passed on to me. Certainly, there are things I will do differently, but there are lots of things I want to do just the same. Here are just a few:
Rainy days don’t have to be sad days. (Mom)
They are a great excuse to build a fort with blankets and chairs with pillows on the floor. They’re also the perfect time for an indoor picnic involving warm chocolate cookies or popcorn. Growing up, we had a big skylight in our living room and we'd plant ourselves under it on a blanket to watch the rain slide off the roof. Maybe this is why I love the rain?
You are never too old to learn - and you should always try new things. (Mom and Dad)
My parents are information seekers by nature and they passed this quality down to my brother and I. My Dad attends One Day University at least once a year and is always excited to discover a new topic and share what he’s learned with me. My mom learned how to garden in her 40’s (and is now a total whiz - check out her instagram feed for great gardening tips!), mastered hot yoga in her late 50’s and just started sailing lessons!
Money is best spent on experiences, especially travel. (Mom and Dad)
Even very early in their life together, my parents sought adventure and to see the world beyond where they came from. They traveled to Europe on shoestring budgets in their twenties and took my brother and I overseas when we were young. They wanted us to have a broad world view and experience other cultures early on. Our travels made me compassionate, curious, grateful and adventurous - and I never want to stop exploring. My mom and I are going to three new countries together this spring alone - Aruba in February, Thailand and Malaysia in April to visit my brother (who clearly picked up the travel bug too, he lives there now!) and we cannot wait!
On one of a million trips to New York City
You should always, always be reading. (Dad)
Every night when he got home from work, my Dad read to me for a solid hour after dinner - or sometimes before he even ate so I could be in bed on time - and it helped make me into a lifelong voracious reader. I still read every night before bed for as long as I can keep my eyes open. Reading makes me a better, sharper, kinder person - and a better writer. I've waited my whole life to pass this love onto my children, too. We read all day and every night before bed with Daisy and she already loves books so much.
You don’t need money to dress well. (Mom)
Truth be told, my mom could dress in head-to-toe designer labels if she chose to, but you’re more likely to find Pam (or “Miss P” as my husband calls her) browsing the racks of TJMaxx with a studied approach and a fine-toothed comb. She taught me that as long as you have a good eye for color and proportion, know what looks good on your figure and shop for the seasons, you can look like a million dollars no matter what your budget. I remember her pulling pages from InStyle and Vogue to inspire outfits that she then either made by hand or pieced together with bargain finds from different stores and now, I find myself doing the same thing.
Mom's swimsuit? Probably $4. Looking timelessly glamorous? Priceless.
Don’t be afraid to pay someone else to do the things you’re not good at. (Dad)
My Dad is not a handy guy - and he’d happily offer up that truth if you asked. He can lecture on the economic performance of housing tax credit properties but ask him to hang your TV, your house might not perform for long. He’s not shy about the value of his time and recognizing when it’s time to call in the professionals - and I admire that. Especially as a parent, sometimes it’s more important to spend time with your kids than to spend all day trying to learn how to rewire an electrical box.
A fever calls for a “Nurse Bed”, popsicles and movies on TV. (Mom)
Freddy and I were almost never sick growing up - we spent so much time outside, our immune systems were fairly impenetrable - and my mom suffered no fools when it came to either of us faking sick. However, when we were really actually sick with a measured fever, Mom rolled out the red carpet treatment. She would pile all the softest blankets in the house on top of our living room couch, fold us into them then cover us with even softer blankets and cushion our heads with fancy pillows - this was called “the nurse bed”. We were allowed to watch movies on television all day and she would bring freeze pops in bowls and cold compresses for our foreheads. Sometimes we even got face massages. I secretly loved being sick.
If you have extra, give it away. (Dad and Mom)
My Dad has a deep reputation for being one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. When I was in elementary school, he helped send his barber to Italy to visit his parents. He sent his personal trainer’s son to space camp. He helped send one of my cousins to college. My mom has the same generous spirit - she gave a friend a car once! My parents always taught us that if we had more than we needed, we should share - whether it’s food, toys, love or money, if you have extra, give it away.
Always bring a sketchpad and colored pencils to a museum. (Mom)
We spent a lot of time in museums growing up. My parents wanted us to be cultured and took us into Boston or down to New York pretty regularly to take in theater or music and explore museums. My mom always packed fresh sketchbooks and boxes of colored pencils so we could sit on the gallery benches and sketch our favorite paintings or sculptures. I never understood why my friends hated museums until I learned that they didn’t get to draw while they were there!
Christmas should last at least a month and be as gargantuan as possible. (Dad)
I realize that some people may balk at this one. How much is too much? Should we really be teaching our children excess? My Dad would laugh. He absolutely lives for Christmas and passed on an obsession with the holiday season that I will never shake. It's not about presents for the sake of presents. It's about planning adventures and creating brilliant surprises a loved one could never guess and elaborate scavenger hunts with clues and remembering something someone mentioned in passing months before. It's about handmade art and heartfelt letters and keepsake ornaments and favorite Christmas movies and hot chocolate and Christmas in the Square. We start shopping for Christmas even before Thanksgiving and we were always the last family to toss our Christmas tree off the back porch. Now that he lives on his own, my Dad has been known to keep his Christmas tree up until July (ha!) - and if I had it my way, we'd do the same in our house.
We probably took this photo in late October
… I may not have learned to cook from my Mom or how to jump a car from my Dad, but, I think it’s safe to say the things my parents taught me are pretty important. And I will always love them for it all ♡