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An awesome dad explains the 5 revelations he's had raising 2 girls.

'I didn't want to raise girls … until I did.'

An awesome dad explains the 5 revelations he's had raising 2 girls.
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Recently, someone asked me if I wished I had boys instead of girls.

Of course the answer was an emphatic, "NO." But did I always feel that way? I'd be lying if I said yes.

First, let's rewind a few years back. When my wife showed me the positive pregnancy test for our first baby in 2009, I blurted out, "Awesome! I just hope it's a boy!"


Fail.

I figured that if I had a son, I could teach him how to play basketball, throw a punch, and play in the dirt. With a girl, I'd be stuck playing dress up and other "girly crap."

Epic fail.

After a few weeks of “I want a boy so badly" talk, our world came crashing down. If you've followed my blog, Daddy Doin' Work, you'll remember that our first pregnancy didn't end well, and it was pretty devastating for us. After months of grieving, I realized that the only thing I ever wanted was to be a dad — not just a dad to a little boy. I cursed myself for being so stupid and immature, and I prayed for redemption — which I fortunately achieved. As the story goes, we got pregnant again in 2010, and there was no “I hope it's a boy" nonsense this time. As a matter of fact, tears of joy streamed down my face when the doctor told us we were having a little girl.

Since January 2011, my oldest daughter has introduced me to a brand of love that I never knew existed.

Me with Reiko (my 2-year-old) and Emiko (my 4-year-old). All photos here provided by me.

I truly believe that having two little girls has transformed me into a better, stronger, and smarter man than I would've been without them.

Here are some reasons why:

Revelation #1: Everything I could do with a boy, I can do with my daughters.

I can play basketball, teach them how to throw a punch, and play in the dirt. Yes, I know that's a big fat "duh" for many of you, but I'm a recovering knucklehead with minimal relapses, so please humor me. And yes, I'm going to teach them much more than those three things – but I promise you that I will teach them those three things.

Revelation #2: My daughters will use me as a benchmark for how men should behave.

The best dads I know (and I know plenty of them) view their day job titles as what they do, but their jobs never become who they are. They are dads and husbands first and foremost.

When I worked a full-time job in corporate America, I remember that after a day of sitting on conference calls, attending project meetings, and hitting aggressive deadlines, the only thing I wanted to do was rest when I get home. Then I thought about my daughters. I'll be damned if they looked at me and thought, “Daddy doesn't cook, give us baths, read bedtime stories, or change our diapers. He just sits around while Mommy does everything. Maybe that's how all men should act and that's what I should expect from a future husband."

Please know that I'm not a robot. Oftentimes I feel like grunting myself into unconsciousness after reading "The Cat in the Hat" for the ninth time in a row, or sometimes I'm so tired that I'll mess up a batch of chili so badly that it could fertilize your front lawn. But I do it anyway because I want my baby girls to expect their daddy to be actively involved – always.

Revelation #3: Being "girly" is just a myth.

Nothing better than a daddy-daughter pedicure date.

What does girly even mean, anyway? Would my kid be less girly if she dressed up as Spider-Man for Halloween instead of a princess? (That's exactly what she did, by the way.) Would she be less girly if she wanted to tackle little boys on the football field instead of taking ballet classes? Not to me.

That would be like saying a dude who can bench-press 250 pounds is more manly than a guy who sings songs to his kids before bed. I've learned that being a girl can be whatever the hell a girl wants it to be, and I will never limit my daughters when it comes to that. Additionally, I want to introduce my daughters to other women who are crushing it in male-dominated fields (executive leadership, sports journalism/broadcasting, coding, law enforcement, etc.) so they'll understand that it's possible to do anything their little hearts desire.

Revelation #4: Being loud is a good thing.

And by loud, I mean believing in something so deeply that they'll shout from the rooftops about it without worrying about what haters, naysayers, and other clowns have to say about them.

In a world where women are still fighting for equality, I want my girls to speak up in the living room, classroom, and board room in order to be heard. Forget the foolishness about being viewed as "pushy," "bossy," or "bitchy" for having an opinion or for taking a stance. Closed mouths don't get fed.

Revelation #5: I'm built for raising girls in today's society, or at least I think I am.

We couldn't resist a Disney moment.

Let's be real — girls have to deal with a lot of challenging things today. Pressure to be liked by others, pressure to have sex, body image, mean girls, teen pregnancy, rape ... I'm sure I missed some, but I'm getting depressed listing them out. I can't protect them from all of the ills of society, but I can ensure they'll have the confidence and smarts (both book smarts and street smarts) to thrive in this crazy world we live in.

Just like I'm fighting for dads to get a seat at the table when it comes to parenting issues, I want women to have a seat at the table when it comes to issues that affect them — and not just for my daughters, but for your daughters, too.

Yes, I'm sure I'd be just as happy if I had boys instead of girls. But there's something special about the bond between a dad and his daughters that cannot be explained, and I wouldn't change that bond for anything.

Now if you'll excuse me, the mall has a half-price sale on toddler jeggings.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

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.

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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."