11 Questions with… Casey Palmer. #bdk11Qs
10 Mar 2017
Welcome to “11 Questions with…”. This edition’s guest is Casey Palmer. Casey is a fellow blogger, and his blog is one of my favourites to read. Why? Because hit is raw, and he tells a story with honesty and passion. His “Tales from the 2.9” series highlights his fellow black content creators. “Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing Their Stories in a Digital Age is a project to showcase my fellow Black content creators across the nation in a month that should encourage us to really examine what it means to be Black in Canada and everything we can learn from our experiences. With 2.9% of the Canadian population made up of Black people, it’s meant to highlight the diversity of creators we have in our community!”
Casey is a fairly new parent, works full time, and still finds time to be an amazing storyteller.
11 Questions with… Casey Palmer
1. Elevator pitch… tell us about yourself.
I mean… there’re so many ways to answer this question. I could identify by my day job, but when I shuffle off this mortal coil, I don’t think I want my kids to remember me as “a great Senior IT Planning Analyst for the Government of Ontario.” Though I’ve developed quite well as a public servant this past decade, the place where my true self shines is at night, where I’m the creator behind Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad, a Dad blog that’s atypical in just about every way.
2. Your spouse… tell us about her.
Sarah and I are coming up on six years married, but it recently dawned on us we’ve been together nearly ten.
Every creative with their head in the clouds needs a partner who’s firmly entrenched on the Earth so the family can eat, and that’s Sarah. She’s the practical one of our Palmer pair, helping to make sure we’re fed. On time. Getting outside every day. I’ve changed my habits quite a bit thanks to having Sarah in my life, and I can’t say I’m sure I’d have made it this far without her.
3. Your kids… tell us about them.
For better or for worse, I live my life in service to my kids.
Both boys aged 3 and 1, I’m not entirely sure I had a clear sense of purpose before they were born. As any parent can tell you, raising them isn’t easy, but seeing them grow and slowly embody all the time, effort and knowledge I pour into them gives me so much more than the things I put myself into before they were around.
The younger one’s still a bit too young for his personality to really shine through, but his older brother is clever. Whiny. Musical. Inquisitive. Sometimes I see myself in the things he does. Other times I wonder what planet he came from.
In the end, I still have decades ahead to figure them out, so I’ll just tackle it all the way I do it best—one day at a time.
4. Do you have any family traditions?
The kids are a little young and irrational to define a firm family routine and stick to it, but there’s at least the expectation that I get home on time for dinner each night! We make a big deal for our boys’ birthdays. We love Halloween. We open Christmas gifts on the 24th and spend at least a few days after getting to see everyone. Oftentimes we’re creatures of habit who go to the same places and eat the same food, but I have a feeling our real traditions are still yet to come.
5. What have been your biggest challenges as a parent?
Changing with the times.
As a child of Jamaican immigrants who’s raising his own Canadian kids in 2017, I’m quickly finding the way my parents raised us decades ago doesn’t always translate to how one raises a child today.
In my house growing up, authority was absolute—you didn’t talk back. You didn’t raise your voice. If you couldn’t show your parents respect, there was a fitting punishment swiftly reaching your rear end to get you in line.
Jamaicans say, “If you don’t learn, you feel” for a reason!
But though I surely have times with my boys that have me think hard about my life choices, I’m trying hard to ride the line between sternness and warmth.
I’m not here to be my sons’ best friend, but to equip them with the tools they’ll need to eventually lead successful lives of their own. They’ve got a lot to figure out, but I want to eventually have the assurance that I’ve taught them everything I possibly could—that I could drop them in any situation and they’d still know how to act accordingly.
While much of my parenting style reflects my Dad, I’m not my Dad. For better or for worse—and it’s definitely a bit of both—I’m learning to take the script and flip it so I can be the best Dad I know how to be.
6. If you could pick any career in the world for yourself, what would it be, and why?
You know, I already spend a good chunk of my time doing exactly what it is I’d love to do for work — creating compelling digital content! When I started sharing on the Internet all those years back, I doubt you’d ever convince me I could build a career out of it, but it’s looking more possible by the day!
Specifically, though, I’d love to spend more time working on art — I’ve had a comic trapped in my head as long as I can remember, and it’d be great to put some real work in and share it with the world!
7. Growing up, who inspired you the most?
This is a tough one for me.
Growing up, I spent so much of my time trying to fit in that I didn’t really find myself a mentor who could help guide me through all the chaos I surrounded myself with. I wouldn’t discover my mentors and inspirations until later in life, when I gained better understanding of myself and how I related to the world around me.
That said, my inspirations come from the generations who came before me and worked hard to bring our family to where it is today. I’m inspired by those who can pour their soul into their craft, like tattoo artist German Shible or painter Lamin Martin. I always want to be authentic and surround myself with authenticity, so the people who embody it are the ones I often find myself drawn to.
8. How do you balance work life and family life?
I’m probably the worst planner ever—my days usually see me attack whatever seems like a priority at the time; some people are good at being super-disciplined and scheduling time out to get everything done, but so much of what I do is based on my mental state and how I feel about getting things done at any time.
9. What advice would your “current self” give to your “just about to have my first child” self?
Life as you know it isn’t ending.
I clearly remember that when Sarah told me she was pregnant with our first, one of the things I did almost immediately was to draw up a list. A list of the things I had to do in the next several months, as there was no way I could do any of it with a baby in my life. I scrambled, scurried and stressed to get it done, feeling disappointed when his due date crept up on me and I’d barely put a dent in it.
And so he was born and then… nothing. Nothing really changed at first. Sure we got a lot less sleep in those early days as we tried to sort ourselves out, but the world kept rotating. I thought I wouldn’t see my peers anymore, but I was able to travel to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit when he was only a couple months old. I thought I’d need to give up blogging, but fatherhood only grew the brand since there’re so few men adding authentic voices about their experiences to the digital space.
Having children only improved me as a person, but it’s something I had to experience to learn it.
10. Has there been a piece of advice you were given about parenting that really stuck with you?
I once heard parenting succinctly summed up by a single line—
“The days are long, but the years go by quickly.”
It’s a smaller example than many Dads I know, but I find it hard to believe that we just registered our eldest for kindergarten!
Certain milestones forever etch themselves in your memory, like the births of your children. Family trips you take. The worst injuries. Those early birthdays. They stand out so much that the time spent in between often blurs… and before you know it, the children you have are significantly older than the ones you remember having.
It’s because of this I try to make the most of every day, spending time with the boys, chatting with my wife, or all the parts of the #BloggerLife that come in between. It’s all very important to me, and if I can keep it all up, I hope it’ll be enough to reach my later days a happy man.
11. What advice would you give to new parents?
You won’t be a perfect parent. You won’t have perfect kids. The best thing that you can do is to do the things that’re best for your family and keep the outside interference to a minimum. We’ve successfully raised our young for millions of years without the benefit of Facebook groups, parenting books, or any of the plethora of opinions popular culture’s pushing on us these days. Don’t buy into the ideals you’re force fed from the environment around you—as long as your kids are safe, healthy and happy, you’re doing just fine!
Also, you’ll use like, half of what you get at the baby shower. Trust me, you’ll see.
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Stay tuned for our next “11 Questions with…” feature.
Thanks for reading!
“11 Questions with…” is an on-going feature. I will be interviewing parents with the same 11 questions, who like me, live in the digital world. The goal is to examine different perspectives, advice, challenges, and experiences from how people parent their children, and live a successful work / life / online balance.
With all the challenges of parenting these days, we could all use stories from fellow parents, who may have already gone through a similar experience, or were offered advice that you could use.
If you would like to be interviewed for an upcoming edition, please contact me at email@example.com.