Moms reveal 5 things they wish they could tell their younger selves about motherhood

Motherhood is a journey unlike any other, and one that is nearly impossible to prepare for. No matter how many parenting books you read, how many people you talk to, how many articles you peruse before having kids, your children will emerge as completely unique creatures who impact your world in ways you could never have anticipated.

Those of us who have been parenting for a while have some wisdom to share from experience. Not that older moms know everything, of course, but hindsight can offer some perspective that's hard to find when you're in the thick of early motherhood.

Upworthy asked our readers who are moms what they wish they could tell their younger selves about motherhood, and the responses were both honest and wholesome. Here's what they said:

Lighten up. Don't sweat the small stuff.

One of the most common responses was to stop worrying about the little things so much, try to be present with your kids, and enjoy the time you have with them:

"Relax and enjoy them. If your house is a mess, so be it. Stay in the moment as they are temporary..more so than you think, sometimes. We lost our beautiful boy to cancer 15+yrs ago. I loved him more than life itself..💔 "- Janet

"Don't worry about the dishes, laundry and other chores. Read the kids another book. Go outside and make a mud pie. Throw the baseball around a little longer. Color another picture. Take more pictures and make sure you are in the pictures too! My babies are 19 and 17 and I would give anything to relive an ordinary Saturday from 15 years ago." - Emma H.


"Spend more time just listening, even when what they say is the same thing over and over again! Some of my funniest memories were conversations I had with my kiddos...sad to think I may have missed something because I was so distracted with other things." - Mysti R.

"Relax a little. You don't need to spend every moment terrified. I wish I had known they were going to become responsible, productive adults so I could have just enjoyed their childhood." - Amy S.

"I wish I had learned to pick my battles when my kids were younger. You want to wear that same super hero outfit 3 days in a row? Fine. As long as you wash and brush your teeth. *Now, as a grandma, this is the advice I give my daughter most often. Stop stressing about all the little things." - Debbie P.

"It's almost never, EVER as big of a deal as you think it is. The spills, the broken things, the bickering, the pickiness at dinner time.... it's going to be fine. Chill." - Becca L.

"Spend more time making good memories and let the little mistakes be ignored. The housework and laundry will still be there. If they ask you to do something, do it now, before they don't ask anymore because they have things to do with their friends. Love them, hug them and tell them you love them often!" - Diane S.

Take care of yourself, psychologically and physically.

There are a couple of angles here that are important for moms. One is to get help with your own childhood traumas because they'll definitely become apparent to you when you have kids of your own.

"Go to therapy and work on those childhood traumas before having kids." - Melissa P.

"Generational trauma is real! Take some classes! Work on yourself before you have kids." - Cherry S.

And two, don't ignore your own needs. It's okay to take time for basic self-care.

"Put the baby down, let her cry a bit, go to the bathroom, take a shower, change your clothes, eat something healthy and she'll still grow up to be normal." - Chetna F.

Don't let the "enjoy every moment" advice derail you.

One of the most common refrains moms of young kids hear from older moms is "Enjoy every second! It goes by so fast!" and many of the commenters in our post said just that. The problem is it's not really possible to enjoy every second of motherhood, and it doesn't feel like it goes by fast when you're in the thick of it. For moms who are deep in the adorable but messy, sleep-deprived, relentless baby and toddler stage, "enjoy every moment" is not always helpful advice, even if it's coming from a place of knowing how quickly it passes.

These comments provided a nice balanced approach to this advice, acknowledging that the days are long but the years are short:

"'Don't wish away their childhoods.' My mother-in-law said this to me. I remember always thinking it will be easier when they can sit up, walk, read on their own....and so on...because it was so 'busy' raising 3 kids who were so close in age. Now they are all grown up and have moved away to their own lives and it certainly is not 'busy' here anymore. Miss those days." - Karen R.

"Yes, enjoy the time, as it goes by so fast; however, be patient with yourself as you are only human. If you are doing what is best for your child, and are trying to parent in a loving, responsible manner, no one is able to do it perfectly. Be patient with yourself as well as your kiddos." - Judy N.

"Unpopular opinion, it's ok to not enjoy every moment. Some of the moments of motherhood are hard, like gut wrenching, soul sucking, exhaustingly hard. And it's ok to not enjoy those moments. Do enjoy the giggles, the smiles, the milestones, the growth, the hugs, the kisses, the sweet sound of their voices, but don't feel guilty for not enjoying every minute. ❤️" - Nicole W.

Real talk—it's actually wicked hard sometimes.

Some moms wished they could tell themselves that it would be harder than they thought and that it's okay to talk about that. So often, moms feel like they can't talk about the hard parts because of course we love our children and what kind of mother complains about the precious gift of motherhood?

While we share the immense, intense joy that often accompanies motherhood, we also should be real about the less-than-magical experiences as well. The exhaustion alone—phew. And when you have a particularly challenging phase—or a particularly challenging child—motherhood is not all sunshine and roses.

"All the things that were 'hidden' or 'unspoken' about motherhood... how hard it would all be, that it is not automatic magic and joy, that conception doesn't just happen, how real postpartum depression is, and how misleading it is to pretend everything is perfect and you couldn't be happier (and how much shame we carry because it isn't)." - Rachel J.

"Exactly what my mother told me… You are going to be tired for the rest of your life 😊." - Francesca A.

"It's the most exhausting underappreciated, and beautiful thing you'll ever do in your life." - Kathleen G.

Take photos. Keep the goal in mind. Pace yourself. You're doing great.

There were so many great tidbits of wisdom—here are a few to tuck in your pocket:

"Take pictures with your kids, not of them. These are the photos they will cherish and pass down for generations." - Teresa C.

"Try to remember that the goal is to raise adults, not eternal children, so encourage their creativity, their independence, their empathy for others, their kindness." - Louise W.

"It is everything you wish for and nothing you expected. Enjoy sleeping in now cause later you're not gonna want to miss a beat. Motherhood is a marathon not a sprint. Be good to you. ❤" - Karytza M.

"I would say slow down and take it all in. Relax, things don't need to be perfect and everything will work out. Your baby WILL sleep, you won't lose your mind (much 😆) and it will be in the past sooner than you realize and you can't get it back so do your best to enjoy the beautiful moments. And you're doing GREAT!" - Tusha W.

You are doing great, mamas. Keep calm (or at least try to) and carry on.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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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.

What you look like in a selfie camera isn't really what you look like in real life.

We've all done it: You snap a selfie, look at it, say, "OMG is my nose swollen?" then try again from a different angle. "Wait, now my forehead looks weird. And what's up with my chin?" You keep trying various angles and distances, trying to get a picture that looks like how you remember yourself looking. Whether you finally land on one or not, you walk away from the experience wondering which photo actually looks like the "real" you.

I do this, even as a 40-something-year-old who is quite comfortable with the face I see in the mirror. So, it makes me cringe imagining a tween or teen, who likely take a lot more selfies than I do, questioning their facial features based on those snapshots. When I'm wondering why my facial features look weird in selfies it's because I know my face well enough to know that's not what it looks like. However, when a young person whose face is changing rapidly sees their facial features distorted in a photo, they may come to all kinds of wrong conclusions about what they actually look like.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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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.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel.

A stranger knocked on the door of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday morning shortly before Shabbat service. It was 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, 46, made him a cup of tea. The rabbi and Malik Faisal Akram, 44, a British national, spoke for a few moments and then the rabbi went on to perform his regular 10 a.m. Shabbat prayers for his congregation.

When the rabbi turned his back to face Jerusalem, he heard a click come from the stranger. "And it turned out, that it was his gun," Cytron-Walker told CBS News.

Akram began screaming and a congregant, Jeffrey Cohen, the vice president of the synagogue's board of trustees, quickly pulled out his phone and dialed 911. A livestream broadcasting the prayer ceremony to congregants participating from home caught some of what Akram was shouting. "I'm gunned up. I'm ammo-ed up," he told someone he called nephew. "Guess what, I will die."

The FBI got word of the 911 call and quickly set up a perimeter around the synagogue. Akram took four people hostage, including the rabbi.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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