This single mom’s heartwarming story is a reminder to ditch ‘perfect’ parenting.
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Every week, American parents feel an average of 23 pangs of guilt over their parenting. For Casey Fitzner, she's lost count.

As the mom to twins, she was plagued by questions and worries from day one. How do you take care of two kids at once? What do you feed them? Where should you raise them? How do you make sure they grow up to be happy?

All images courtesy of Casey Fitzner, used with permission.


The pressure also came from the fact that she felt there was only one right answer to every parenting question.

“The media gives moms the impression that there’s only one way,” writes Casey in an email.

For her, that one way seemed like the “suburban dream,” complete with a two-parent household, a minivan, and a tidy suburban home. It was a lot to keep up with — and now, as a recently divorced mom of three, she thinks back to how hard it was to let go of that dream.

For example, Casey remembers when she had to leave her youngest son’s first tee-ball game. She’d imagined it as a perfect day, but the divorce was fresh, and it was the boys’ father’s day to spend with them.

“I was a mess... I cried all the way to the car,” Casey shares.

With time, Casey realized that her push for perfect parenting came from emotions like fear, shame, and guilt. That realization changed everything.

That image of the suburban dream just didn’t fit Casey’s family. What’s worse, she felt awful while trying to achieve it, following rules that didn’t even make sense for her life.

The only “rule” Casey needed to follow was to throw out the rulebook, and focus on what’s best for her own family.

And what’s best for her family, she realized, is to embrace what makes them happy — even if it’s a little unconventional.

These days, Casey and her sons, 7-year-old Charlie, and the twins Ben and Colin, who are now 10, enjoy activities like a regular full moon drum circle celebration. Her mother, who’s 82 years old and doesn’t act a day over 60, moved in last year.

Their lives are nothing like she once imagined they would be, and she wouldn’t dream of returning to her old standard of perfection.

This is a family “filled with free thinkers, creatives, and people who are proud to be a bit different,” she says.

For example, young Charlie is already emerging as an artist, making paper models. Casey loves seeing him at his happiest, when he’s creating.

The family’s creativity comes out at holiday time, too. With a small family, they don’t spend the holidays in a big gathering, like you see in the movies. Last year, they celebrated Thanksgiving with a turkey buffet dinner, a stay at a hotel, and a cannonball contest in the hotel pool.

“We were fed, we had a blast, and we all felt loved,” remembers Casey.

And that matters more to them than any tradition.

Casey knows that she’ll never achieve what she once considered perfect parenting – and now she realizes that’s a good thing.

And she's far from alone. Here are several other parents who couldn't agree more.

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Myth: There’s one perfect way to family. Truth: There’s a billion ways to family greatly. Share with the people you think #FamilyGreatly”

Posted by GOOD on Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Fitzners may have different traditions than other families, but their traditions show their love for one another, and that’s what’s important.

Since every family is different, there is no one way to be a great parent. With so many parents feeling the pressure to be perfect (one national survey shows it's 8 out of 10) it’s clear we could use more reminders that we’re not the only ones with unique ways of being a family.

“Nobody is perfect. Nobody,” says Casey. “But my kids are perfect for me and I think I’m the perfect mom for them.”

Sometimes, she says, being “perfectly imperfect” is the best way to be, and that’s a lesson she’s teaching her sons.

These days, Casey and her family live in a city, instead of a suburban dreamhouse. The boys have been enjoying a giant pile of blankets, stuffed animals, and pillows instead of keeping the house immaculately tidy.

But they’re having a great time, and they’re making Casey laugh, so it’s just right for them.

No matter how unconventional your family is, doing what works for your family is the absolute best you can do.

So if you’re feeling the pressure to make everything perfect this holiday season, just remember how Casey and her family create their own joy — and then go out there and create a little of your own.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via The BC Cancer Foundation

Testicular cancer typically affects men between the ages of 16 and 44 and is the most common solid tumor to occur in men of this age group. These tumors grow rapidly and can double in size in just 10 to 30 days.

The disease is potentially fatal if not discovered early and accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35. An estimated 9,60 people were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020, resulting in around 440 deaths.

So it's incredibly important for people with testicles to check themselves regularly.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.