The Mortality of Motherhood


The Mortality of Motherhood

Four years ago, my friend and colleague Kelly McEvers moved to the Middle East to become a war correspondent . . . and to have a baby. She recently chronicled her gut-wrenching inner conflict over being a mom who puts herself in harm’s way for a living in her powerful radio documentary Diary of a Bad Year: A War Correspondent’s Dilemma, which she produced with Jay Allison and Transom.org. After hearing the doc, I called Kelly at her studio in Beirut to delve deeper into what everyday motherhood is like when you do the job she does. Ever wonder what it’s like to pump in a war zone? Kelly has the answer.

Kelly at work (Glen Carey)

Kelly at work (Glen Carey)

Kelly teaching Loretta to ride a bike, back in the states.

Kelly teaching Loretta to ride a bike, back in the states

What experiences have made YOU feel mortal as a parent?
Tell us in the comments!

8 thoughts on “EPISODE #19: The Mortality of Motherhood

  1. Amazing story. Honestly you say its common for new parents to face mortality more. Thank you thank you. No one has told me that. I figured others felt that way but I didnt know for sure. This podcast is always so wonderful. I have a 9 month old and about 2 months after he was born my grandmother passed away. The cycle of life hit me hard. I kept imagining her with my dad like I was with my son. How time does just march on no matter how much you say slow down. Thank you again for a wonderful podcast. I am so excited for your exciting news! Hopefully it means more ‘longest shortest time’. p.s. – im a stay at home and work mom who enjoys podcasts (they are a tedium life saver) during nap time while I get sewing done.

  2. Hillary, you are so good at expressing the difficult things about motherhood and you tackled some of them really well with your friend in this podcast. So refreshing and the honesty makes for a really good listening experience. Thank you.
    PS Interestingly I became much less morbid after having my son. Before that I was aaawfully obsessed with death but I’m much less bothered now. Motherhood made me feel a bit invincible, I guess, which is pretty misguided but hey ho.

    1. Rachel, how interesting that motherhood had the opposite effect on your morbidity! Now that you mention it, I think I might feel both ways about it: I think about death all the time, but I also feel like I could survive almost anything.

  3. Hi Hillary,

    I’ve been wanting to comment for a long time to tell you how much I enjoy LST. I really wish it had been around when my first was born 8 years ago! I struggled to find parenting resources that weren’t too extreme one way or another. I felt like everything I read was either too traditional or too liberal. Your approach is so balanced and non-judgmental.

    I think this was my favorite show so far. My kids are beyond the “longest, shortest time” now (I think of that as the first year) so what’s most interesting to me is how being a parent fits in to the rest of your life. This interview with Kelly reminded me that while nothing’s more important in parents’ lives than their kids, they do go on being individuals and that those individual identities and careers aren’t any less important than they were before. As a mom also driven to various creative and career pursuits, this is very valuable to explore.

    Thank you for creating this excellent show! I hope you’ll continue to include some episodes like this one that aren’t just about parenting, but about being a parent and how it fits in to the rest of your life.


    1. Thanks for your kind words, Christina! This is the stage I’m at with parenting, too. So I expect there will be more episodes along these lines as the podcast progresses. I love getting requests for content, so let me know if anything else occurs to you.

  4. God I loved this story. I listened to it a couple of months ago, and still think about so many parts of it. Before having a family I worked overseas in international aid and this story really hit hom for me. I also heard Kelly interviewed on NPR about her job change – and loved it when she said ‘Maybe it’s someone else’s turn to tell this story’ in regards to leaving the Middle East. Such a gracious, brave way to leave something she obviously loved so much (and was so good at). I can’t wait to hear what she reports about next – There are plenty of stories in the US which will give her the adrenaline drive she seems to crave – and I am confident that she will find them! What a neat friendship the two of you have – the history you have shared as well as the time not shared – and how that has impacted both of you. I look forward to the next time you interview her – in a few years time- to see how she has adjusted to life back in the states.

  5. I’m not as adventurous as Kelly. Not At All.

    But this story resonated with me. I’m going back to graduate school. Presently, I am an E.R. nurse. I work weekends, holidays, and night shifts. My husband is a fireman and he is gone for 24 hours, 12 days per month. My goal with going to school to become a family nurse practitioner is have a more “normal” schedule because we have two little boys.

    I’m probably going to end up working in a clinic. I’m probably going to be bored. Because all the things I complain about regarding my job – the irregularity, the highs, the lows – also feeds me professionally.

    I am forever grateful for the fact that I can go back to school, that I have a supportive co-parent, etc… But I liked this podcast because you made it feel OK to morn the possible loss of a job you love. Loss might be the wrong word….maybe “change”.

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