05/07/2014 10:40 am ET Updated Jul 07, 2014

Parenting Lessons I Learned From My Mother

My mother passed away one year ago, right after her 75th birthday. I've spent the past 12 months missing her and wishing she was still here to watch her grandchildren grow up. The one part of losing her that doesn't make me sad is that I know I was fortunate. Fortunate to have a mother who was quirky, cool, smart, caring, generous and an amazing role model. I can only hope my three sons feel the same way about me some day. As I raise my boys, I am trying to be the type of parent for them that my mother was for me, with some of these unique parenting lessons that she inadvertently taught me:

1. Cursing is OK, as long as you use the words appropriately and sparingly.

My mom taught me that it was OK to scream the F-bomb if I got hurt. Or, if I had a bad case of road rage. I now allow my kids the same "hall pass."

2. Share the beauty of the world with your kids and grandkids.

I'll never forget the time my parents were visiting me at sleep-away camp and were waiting on the ski dock to watch me water-ski. A rainbow appeared over the lake and my mother immediately pointed it out to everyone nearby, including the ski counselor we all had a crush on. My mother then proceeded to pass her sunglasses around so we could all see the colors of the rainbow more illuminated. As a 13-year-old girl, I was slightly mortified, but as someone who is now a mom myself, I get it.

3. Always stand up for your kids and for what you think is right.

I once received a C-minus on an English paper where I was required me to analyze a poem. The poem I chose was called, "Eulogy For a Dead Dog." Unique? Yes, but I was in a stage where I worried about our family dog dying. The teacher's comments focused on the morbid poem I chose, rather than on my analysis. My mother met with the teacher and told her that her grade was unfair, because my analysis was spot-on. Sure enough, the teacher changed my grade, because she realized my mother was right.

4. Never cram for a test the night before... unless it's your road test.

The night before my road test, which I had already failed once, my mother took me out driving for hours in the pouring rain to make sure I knew how to parallel park. She taught me her special method of parking. It was worth it: I passed the test the next day.

5. When in doubt, order in Chinese food.

My mom was not known for her culinary skills and seemed to have passed down to me the gene to despise cooking. Fortunately, I married someone who not only loves to be in the kitchen, but also can prepare restaurant-worthy meals. However, for those nights when he's off-duty or I've over-cooked yet another steak or chicken, we've got the local Chinese restaurant on speed-dial.

And the most important lesson of all?

Be the best listener you can possibly be for your kids. I never doubted that no matter what, I had my mom's full attention when I talked to her. In this age of digital distractions, I know that can be a challenge, but it's one lesson I hope to carry on with my boys. They deserve the type of mom that I was so blessed to have raise me.

This post is part of HuffPost Parents' Mother's Day series, exploring the lessons our moms taught us about parenting.