“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

There’s such beauty in hindsight. Not that it helps us avoid learning everything the hard way. Hey, I thought the Boppy pillow would ease my transition into parenting, too.

What hindsight has gained me, though, is perspective on my parents. I was the type of kid who thought my parents knew what they were doing until I was practically 30. That even though I certainly didn’t always agree, I thought their decisions — from dinner to dating — came from some kind of teacher’s edition with the answers to your toughest child rearing questions in the back.

Now that I’m walking around in my parents’ skin (Couldn’t Atticus have said shoes? Skin. Eew.), feeling like a kid dressed in grown-up clothing, I look back on their actions with new appreciation. I haven’t asked them specifically, but while some of what they taught my sister and me came from standards of safety and, um, decorum, an equal part may have been the product of exhaustion and frustration.

I’m lucky to focus on happy memories of my childhood. I remember a lot of love. And I know my parents wanted the best for us. Of course, I like to think I was a relatively easy kid to parent, pouting and hormones and crayon on the backseat of the car (not in that order) aside. I think my husband remembers the same (I really should talk to these people once in a while. You know, to confirm.).

I also can think of friends and family who don’t look back on love. Who spent their childhoods in the face of anger and loneliness. I see where some parents made terrible mistakes: physical abuse, allowing their children to witness their marital struggles. But in other situations I see parents who were only trying their best: no public school, no staying up late, no ripped jeans, no dating, no out-of-state college. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it backfired.

My hope is that my hindsight — first as a daughter, then as a mother — will lead me to succeed where my parents may have struggled, even though I’m bound to struggle somewhere else along the way. And that my children will someday look back on their dad and me and see, with hindsight, we were doing our best.