When my parents were children, they were in sad circumstances.
My dads father died when he was a toddler. His stepdad was an abusive alcoholic. My mom's childhood was split between happy times when her father was not at home, and horrifying nights of abuse when he was. They married young, he at 19 and she at 16, and began a family a year later. My mom told me once of a conversation that they had before my older brother was born.
"We sat down and decided what we were NEVER going to do as parents."
Teenagers. Making plans for permanent change.
They made promises to us kids before we born that they kept all of our lives. We never once sat outside a bar waiting for a parent to have "just one more drink." I was never left alone for even a minute with our grandfather, and I was given permission before I understood why I needed it to stand up to him if he made me at all uncomfortable. They didn't turn themselves into perfect parents - the gap was too wide - but they gave it their best shot. They had no idea on earth what 'normal' families did on holidays, so they watched "It's a Wonderful Life" and copied the style as best they could. For the most part, they pretended to be 'normal'. For the most part, it worked.
The knowledge that that conversation had taken place has had a profound impact on my parenting. The concept that one could decide to change things ahead of time - how amazing is THAT? How amazing IS that? To have a love so profound that you plan for a better life for someone who doesn't even exist yet? It goes from the foundation to the frosting of parental love.
Grateful? Hell, yes.