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Parenting is the hardest job on the planet.

Air traffic control? Super stressful job. Brain surgeon? Not for the faint of heart. But parents take on the most relentless and challenging work on Earth every single day. Here's what makes raising humans the toughest job:

1. The responsibility is immense, and the stakes are incredibly high — yet there is no manual.

The first time you hold your baby — the weight of their entire life in your hands — it's nearly impossible not to be overwhelmed. You question whether you're adequate for the task, and the fact that you have no real idea what you're doing hits you. This is a person's life we're talking about. How did you get put in charge of a life?


And no matter how many experts you talk to or parenting books you read, you discover that children always find a way to thwart their wisdom and keep you on your toes. What works with one child is totally ineffectual with another. Your job is to nurture these tiny humans physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually — and you basically have to figure it out as you go along.

A story for the ages . . .

Posted by Annie Reneau, Writer on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting — and there are no real breaks.

Unless you’re lucky, you start off parenting with months of sleep deprivation that you never seem to catch up from. Even after kids figure out how to sleep, they wake you up because they're scared, they wet the bed, their pajamas are "scratchy," they're dying of thirst, or 5 a.m. on Saturday seems like a good time to party. Later, they choose your bedtime to have their most profound, hours-long heart-to-heart talks with you.

And in this constantly tired state, you are expected to be "on" 24/7. You must feed these people several times a day, every day, or they'll die. Dealing with their bodily functions feels like a full-time job in certain stages. And those are just the bare basic physical needs.

Until you're in it, it's impossible to understand the mental and emotional work that goes into parenting. You field 583,417 questions — half of which are unanswerable — in a kid's fourth year of life alone. You have to teach kids to navigate social and emotional landscapes that you yourself are still figuring out, and inevitably, at least one child will exhibit a behavior that you never even knew existed and have no idea how to handle.

Who knew Guns n' Roses had such a bead on parenting?

Posted by Annie Reneau, Writer on Monday, June 6, 2016

Parenting taxes the body, brain, and heart — and it's nonstop. Even if you get a physical break, you're always thinking about their wellbeing.

3. If the exhaustion doesn't get you, the worry might.

When my first child was a baby, I watched an "Oprah" episode about child abduction, and I've pretty much been terrified ever since. Like exhaustion, the worry waxes and wanes but never really stops.

Before kids, my definition of "overprotective" was something totally different than it is now. And thanks to the internet, parents have a whole host of concerns that generations past didn't have. Technology can open awesome new worlds of learning and exploration for our kids, but literally one click can lead them into a world of sick and twisted depravity.

You don't want to be neurotic, but you need a healthy amount of concern in order to make wise choices. Discerning what's worth worrying about and what's not is a constant — and exhausting — balancing act.

If I had a nickel . . .

Posted by

Annie Reneau, Writer on Saturday, April 8, 2017

4. You don't get a paycheck — and in fact, this job costs you money.

Parenting comes with more responsibility and stress than any occupation, but there's no paycheck, no seasonal bonuses, no monetary compensation of any kind.

In fact, generally speaking, the more time you spend parenting, the less money you make. There's also no paid leave. You usually have to pay someone else to watch your kids so you can have "time off."

Your superhuman ability to multi-task, keen attention to detail, and devotion to the job will not be noticed by the boss and rewarded with a promotion or a raise. In fact, you'll be lucky if these skills and qualities are noticed by anyone.

5. Yet we do our best anyway because our love for our kids is unparalleled — and the rewards are priceless.

Honestly, if we didn't love our children, they'd be a lot easier to raise. We wouldn't worry about them or bother figuring out what's best for them. We'd sleep through the night and let them cry until they turn blue. We'd plop them in front of the TV with Cheetos and root beer to keep them quiet and go about our days in peace.

But we do love them. The heart-swelling, Earth-shattering, all-consuming love we have for our kids is what makes us get up at 3 a.m. to chase away bad dreams, dutifully wipe a butt for the 2054th time, and agonize over meal-planning and screen-time limits.

And that love is also the reward we get for a job well done.

Love creates the challenge of parenting yet makes it all worthwhile. It's the cause of our parenting woes yet also the cure. My kid could be driving me up the wall one minute, but when he lays his head on my shoulder and says, "I love you, Mommy," I fall head-first into that gushy cloud of kid-love that has propelled the human race forward for millennia. Those moments always remind me that the joy ultimately outweighs the hard.

As much as I don't like the occasional kick when BoyWonder climbs into bed with us in the wee hours, I do love waking up...

Posted by Annie Reneau, Writer on Thursday, June 4, 2015

So keep on keepin' on, parents. Here's to you and the vital, daily, unacknowledged work you put into raising good humans.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

Giphy

Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.