What Angelina Jolie has said about motherhood as she turns 44: 'The best friends I've ever had'

Angelina Jolie’s life has changed a lot over the last few years — bye, Brangelina! — but her relationship with her kids is tighter than ever. As the Maleficent: Mistress of Evil star turns 44 on June 4, we celebrate her memorable mom moments — and with six kids, she’s had a lot of ‘em.

Since her dramatic split with Brad Pitt in 2016, her bond with her brood of global citizens — born around the world — has only grown stronger. At least one of them is often by her side at Hollywood events, and several have worked on her projects. They also have accompanied her on humanitarian missions.

"They really help me so much,” Jolie said of her mini-mes in 2017. ”We're really such a unit. They're the best friends I've ever had. Nobody in my life has ever stood by me more." (In comparison, Pitt is almost never photographed with the kids. Their time together is private and low-key.)

Jolie admitted that she puts on a tough exterior with Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Vivienne and Knox, especially while finding her footing again amid the divorce.

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Angelina Jolie with her six children at NYC movie premiere
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Angelina Jolie with her six children at NYC movie premiere
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie with children Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt, Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt, Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt and Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt attend 'The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind' Special Screening at Crosby Street Hotel on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Netflix)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie with children Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt, Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt, Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt and Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt attend 'The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind' Special Screening at Crosby Street Hotel on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Netflix)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie and her children attend a screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' in SoHo on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie and her children attend a screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' in SoHo on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie and her children attend a screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' in SoHo on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie takes her kids Maddox Jolie-Pitt, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Knox Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Jolie-Pitt and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt to a special screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie takes her kids Maddox Jolie-Pitt, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Knox Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Jolie-Pitt and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt to a special screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie takes her kids Maddox Jolie-Pitt, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Knox Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Jolie-Pitt and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt to a special screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie and her children attend a screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' in SoHo on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie and her children attend a screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' in SoHo on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
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“I was very worried about my mother growing up,” Jolie said, referring to the late actress Marcheline Bertrand, who had Jolie and son James Haven with Jon Voight before divorcing. “I do not want my children to be worried about me. I think it’s very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them. They need to know that everything’s going to be all right even when you’re not sure it is.”

As a result, the Oscar-winning actress has “six very strong-minded, thoughtful, worldly individuals,” she has said. “I’m very proud of them.”

Soon she’ll have just five at home as Maddox, who she adopted from Cambodia in 2002, heads to college this fall. Of the transition, she said, “I’m nothing but proud. I look forward to all he will do.”

Not that she’ll be lonely as Pax, who was adopted from Vietnam, is a couple years behind “Mad” at age 15. Ethiopian-born Zahara is 14. The children Jolie and Pitt had naturally are 13 (Shiloh, who was born in Namibia) and 10 (twins Knox and Vivienne, who were born in France).

Jolie said in a few years time, none of the children will be living under her roof — and her hope is that they’ll be out seeing the world.

"In five years' time I would like to be traveling around the world visiting my children hoping that they're just happy and doing really interesting things,” she said in 2017. “And I imagine [they’ll be living] in many different parts of the world, and I'll be supporting them.”

She added, "Everything I do I hope is that I represent something, and I represent the right things to my children, and give them the right sense of what they're capable of, and the world as it should be seen. Not through the prism of Hollywood or through a certain kind of life, but really take them into the world, where they have a really good sense and become rounded people."

68 PHOTOS
Angelina Jolie's style transformation
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Angelina Jolie's style transformation
Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight at the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, California (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by S. Granitz/WireImage)
Actress Angelina Jolie at National Board of Review Awards. (Photo by Dave Allocca/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Actress Angelina Jolie attends the world premiere of 'Girl Interrupted' on December 8, 1999 at the Cinerama Dome Theater in Hollywood, California. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton during 'Gone in 60 Seconds' Los Angeles Premiere at National Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by S. Granitz/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie Attends The 'Mission:Impossible-2' Premiere In London'S West End. (Photo by Justin Goff\UK Press via Getty Images)
Actress Angelina Jolie wearing black leather pants and holding flowers at the London premiere of her film Gone in 60 Seconds. (Photo by Duncan/Goff/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie attends the Vanity Fair magazine party at Morton's. (Photo by Jody Cortes/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie at the Mann's Village Theater in Westwood, California (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
LONDON - JULY 03: Actors Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton attend the premiere of Tomb Raider on July 03, 2001 at the Empire in Leicester Sq, London. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie during 'Bandits' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage)
NEW YORK - MAY 1: (U.S. TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Actress Angelina Jolie attends the Vanity Fair 2003 Tribeca Film Festival launch party at The State Supreme Courthouse May 1, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie during Angelina Jolie Visits MTV's 'TRL' to Promote Her New Film 'Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life' - July 14, 2003 at MTV Studios- Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie Bei Der Deutschlandpremiere 'Tomb Raider 2 - Die Wiege Des Lebens' Im Math�er Kino In M�nchen (Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 15: Actress Angelina Jolie attends a promotional photocall for her new movie 'Beyond Borders' October 15, 2003 at Hotel Palace in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 15: Actress Angelina Jolie attends the world premiere of her new movie 'Beyond Borders'. October 15, 2003 at Capitol cinema in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie during World Premiere of Beyond Borders - Outside Arrivals at The Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK - MARCH 8: (U.S. TABS OUT) Angelina Jolie and Olivier Martinez appear on stage during MTV's Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios March 8, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Actress Angelina Jolie arrives for the premiere of Shrek 2, at the Palais de Festival during the 57th Cannes Film Festival in France. (Photo by Anthony Harvey - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie during 'Hotel Rwanda' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Academy Theatre in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Angelina Jolie at the 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann's Westwood in Westwood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Actress Angelina Jolie attends the World Premiere of 'The Good Shepherd' presented by Universal Pictures at the Ziegfeld Theatre on December 11, 2006 in New York City (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt during 2007 Cannes Film Festival - 'A Mighty Heart' Premiere at Palais des Festival in Cannes, France. (Photo by Yasky/WireImage)
Angelina Jolie during 'Ocean's Thirteen' Los Angeles Premiere - Red Carpet at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for Variety Magazine)
FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 03: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for the film 'The Assassination of Jesse James' In Deauville, France On September 03, 2007- Deauville American film festival: Photocall Brad Pitt for the film 'The Assassination of Jesse James' of Andrew Dominik with Casey Affleck. (Photo by Pool BENAINOUS/LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
LONDON - NOVEMBER 11: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attend the Beowulf European premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square on 11 November, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn McCormack/Wireimage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 23: Actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt arrives at the 2008 Film Independents Spirit Awards at the Santa Monica Pier on February 23, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
Actress Angelina Jolie attends the 'Kung Fu Panda' premiere at the Palais des Festivals during the 61st Cannes International Film Festival on May 15, 2008 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)
FRANCE - MAY 20: Photocall of 'The Exchange' at the Cannes film festival In Cannes, France On May 20, 2008- Angelina Jolie. (Photo by Pool BENAINOUS/SANCHEZ/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Actress Angelina Jolie arrives at the 'Moneyball' Premiere at Roy Thomson Hall during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 14: Actress/Director Angelina Jolie arrives at American Cinematheque's Golden Globe Foreign Language Nominee Series at American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre on January 14, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: Actress Angelina Jolie arrives at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actor Angelina Jolie arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards held at Hollywood & Highland Centre on February 26, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Actress Angelina Jolie attends the 3rd Annual Women in the World Summit at David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center on March 8, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 16: Honoree Angelina Jolie arrives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 16, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Angelina Jolie arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 28: Actress Angelina Jolie attends the World Premiere of Disney's 'Maleficent' at the El Capitan Theatre on May 28, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: Angelina Jolie attends the Global Summit to end Sexual Violence in Conflict at ExCel on June 11, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn McCormack/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 17: Angelina Jolie arrives to the world premiere of 'Unbroken' on November 17, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by KHAP/GG/GC Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 18: Angelina Jolie poses at the photo call of Unbroken at Sydney Opera House on November 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Actress Angelina Jolie attends The 20th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at Hollywood Palladium on January 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Writer-director-producer-actress Angelina Jolie Pitt attends the opening night gala premiere of Universal Pictures' 'By the Sea' during AFI FEST 2015 presented by Audi at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on November 5, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: Actress Angelina Jolie, with her son Knox Jolie-Pitt are seen on June 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by XPX/Star Max/GC Images)
Actress Angelina Jolie attends the premiere of 'Faces Places' at the Pacific Design Center, on October 11, 2017, in West Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Honoree Angelina Jolie attends the 21st Annual Hollywood Film Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 5, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 14: Angelina Jolie is seen out in Manhattan on December 14, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 07: 75th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: Actor/director Angelina Jolie arrive to the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 11: Actor/director Angelina Jolie attends The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 18: Angelina Jolie attends the 71st EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall on February 18, 2018 in London, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Paul Treadway / Barcroft Images (Photo credit should read Paul Treadway / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Angelina Jolie attends the Service of Commemoration and Dedication, marking the 200th anniversary of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George at St Paul's Cathedral on June 28, 2018 in London, England. HM Queen Elizabeth II was unable to attend due to illness. The Order of St Michael and St George is awarded to men and women who hold high office or who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country, and can also be conferred for important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
UNHCR Special Envoy, US actress Angelina Jolie arrives to deliver a press conference, after meeting with Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, at the Government Palace in Lima on October 23, 2018. - Jolie is in Peru on a three-day visit to assess the situation of Venezuelan refugees and migrants arriving in the country. (Photo by Luka GONZALES / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUKA GONZALES/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Angelina Jolie arrives at the BFI for the 'Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Film Festival' on November 23, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 25: Angelina Jolie is seen with her children attending a screening of 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' on February 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Nancy Rivera/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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