For the moms and dads in the room, do you remember what it was like when you laid eyes on your baby for the first time?

Even something as routine as watching your baby receiving his or her first bath from the gentle hands of the hospital's nursing staff became the best spectator sport ever.


In the early moments of your child's life, you were probably overwhelmed by the desire to spend as much time as possible with the tiny human that you'd completely fallen in love with.

Then it hit you. Based on your employment situation, you may not be afforded the opportunity to properly bond with your child. And that sucks.

I could easily rant about the egregious lack of maternity and paternity leave in America, but we should also give credit where it's due. Some companies are doing an admirable job of giving parents time with their newborns, paving the way for what it means to value employees inside and outside the workplace.

One of the champions of maternity and paternity leave is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Now he's also leading by example.

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Photo by Getty Images News.

Zuckerberg recently announced that he's taking two months of paternity leave once his baby girl is born. Here are five reasons why it's so important:

1. Being a dad comes first.

Even as the leader of one of the most powerful companies in the world, Zuckerberg knows that the most important job title he'll ever have is "Dad."

Studies have shown that dads who take bonding time with their newborn babies are more likely to dive into the often-messy trenches of childcare (and stay there) than the dads who don't.

It makes me smile knowing it won't be long before Zuckerberg becomes familiarized with the "dad face" as he approaches his daughter's first blowout diaper.

2. Respect for child-rearing starts at the top.

By "the top," I mean the top of the food chain in terms of industries and executive leadership. Facebook offers full-time employees working anywhere in the world up to four months of paid leave to bond with a baby — and that time can be taken at any point during the first year of the child's life.

Notice the terminology there. It's not called maternity leave or paternity leave. It's parental leave because moms, dads, and people in same-sex relationships are entitled to the same amount of time for baby bonding. That's a big deal.

Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP.

I know, I know ... Zuckerberg's a billionaire. Of course he can afford to take the time off, right?

Well, that's what makes his company special. He's not a "do as I say but not as I do" leader who enjoys the perks and everyone else fights for the scraps. Facebook is focused on encouraging its employees to enjoy the same leave benefits that he does.

Here's what Lori Goler, Facebook's vice president of people, had to say about the importance of Facebook's parental leave policy:

"Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families. For too long, paid baby leave has been granted only to a mother who is giving birth. We believe that fathers and mothers alike deserve the same level of support when they are starting and growing a family, regardless of how they define family."

Facebook employees should feel honored to work for such amazing leaders who value the importance of family.

3. Facebook is setting the tone for other employers.

This will help pave the way for other companies to do the same thing or risk being left behind.

You know those millennials everyone keeps talking about? Well, they're interested in a lot more than this young lady:

GIF of "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.

The best and brightest of the group have little desire to work for companies that don't view them holistically. Facebook, Netflix, Adobe, Johnson & Johnson, and others have demonstrated with their leave policies how much they value their employees.

And guess what? They attract and retain the top talent in their respective industries because of it.

As many of us lament America's parental leave policies, it's promising to know that companies are being forced (OK, more like "strongly nudged") to accommodate their employees for fear they may walk to another company that actually gets it.

4. Zuckerberg is challenging what it means to be a working dad.

For some men, having a baby ends up like just another agenda item on a busy schedule. They're at the hospital in the morning taking photos while holding their newborns like trophies from a weekend softball league, and moments later they're heading back to the office.

Sadly, there are thousands of new dads who have to get back to work quickly or risk their jobs. That's another story entirely, and we're not talking about them.

We're talking about the dads who do this because they actually think it's the manly thing to do.

And yes, those men exist. Remember the 2014 story of New York Mets player Daniel Murphy?

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images Sports.

Radio hosts ripped him for taking three days off to bond with his new baby (they thought three days was too much time, not too little). If you're not familiar with the story, I hope you're sitting down before you click the link above, because it will make you angry.

We already know what today's dads look like. And in a roundabout way, a man as powerful as Zuckerberg gives working dads in America permission to embrace fatherhood.

It's OK and expected for dads to take the full parental leave allotted by a company.

It's OK and expected for fellow employees and supervisors to cheer a man's decision to take parental leave and not roll their eyes in disgust for "not being dedicated to the job."

Of course, change takes time, but when influential corporate leaders are the ones initiating change, others seem to follow suit.

Which leads to my next point...

5. Time is important. Let's cherish it.

The most valuable resource we have is time.

No, it's not health, wealth, or love — because the possibility exists of getting those things back once they're gone.

Time? Not so much. Once it's gone, it's gone. That's why it's so precious.

Regardless of the amount of money and influence Zuckerberg has, he's smart enough to know that the time he'll spend with his newborn daughter is invaluable — and I give him huge props for choosing to be a dad first.

Speaking from personal experience, many of my favorite fatherhood memories with my young daughters occurred while I was on paternity leave from my previous corporate job.

Like this one.

Photo courtesy of Doyin Richards.

We need to create a world where parents are able to embrace all aspects of parenthood without fearing scrutiny, passive-aggressive ridicule, or on-the-job consequences from their employers.

Hopefully, Zuckerberg's upcoming parental leave and Facebook's amazing policies and culture that allow him and his employees to take it will trickle down to other companies and our government.

Because every parent should enjoy the sleepless nights, diaper changes, and infant giggles without checking email at the same time. It's only fair.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Your weekly roundup of internet sunshine.

Hey everyone! Hope you're staying safe and healthy, and if you're not, at least you know you're not alone. I mean, omicron? Phew. Pandemics certainly know how to keep us on our toes.

If you need a respite or distraction from all that, we've got you covered. If immersing yourself in cute animal videos and feel-good stories of human awesomeness is wrong, who wants to be right? Nobody, that's who.

We all need a break from the less pleasant parts of life, and cheering ourselves up with simple, happy things is a tried and true way to push those endorphins and lift our mood for a bit.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

The scarf, a simple accessory that some find an essential fashion piece. Both fashionable and function with the warmth they provide, scarves can be a valuable gift for any occasion or person. Here, we've selected our best selling scarves from our store. At Upworthy Market, when you purchase a product, you directly support the artisans who craft their own products, so with every purchase, you're doing good. These scarves are not only unique, but they are hand-made by local artisans and all under $30.

1. Fair Trade Woven Dark Gray Alpaca Blend Scarf

Celinda Jaco selects a cozy blend of Andean alpaca for this handsome men's scarf. Classic in style, it features fine stripes of white and black woven through the dark grey textile. Hand-tied fringe completes a distinguished design.

cdn11.bigcommerce.com

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When Jimmy Kimmel takes to the street, you know you’re in for a good laugh at just how little we actually know about, well, seemingly anything. That goes for anatomy too. In this case, female anatomy.

In a segment called “What Do You Know About The Female Body?” men try—and hilariously fail—to answer even the most basic questions, like “does a female have one uterus, or two?” much to the amazement of some of their female partners.

Here are some of the very best bits of nonwisdom:

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