This single mom’s heartwarming story is a reminder to ditch ‘perfect’ parenting.
True
Kraft Family Greatly

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.

#FamilyGreatly

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.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."