The Mortality of Motherhood


The Mortality of Motherhood

Seven years ago, my friend and colleague Kelly McEvers moved to the Middle East to become a foreign correspondent in a war zone … and to have a baby. She 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 talk about what everyday motherhood is like when you do the job she does. (Hint: pumping in a war zone poses unique challenges!)

Kelly at work

Kelly at work

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

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

Shortly after that interview with Kelly, she quit her job as foreign correspondent, and she and her family moved back to the States. These days, Kelly hosts NPR’s All Things Considered, as well as her own podcast, Embedded. Tune in to this episode to hear my interview with Kelly from a few years ago. Plus, a new conversation, where Kelly talks about what things have been like since she (reluctantly) came back home.

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

Top photo: Jay L. Clendenin; Kelly with tanks: Glen Carey

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5 thoughts on “EPISODE #87: The Mortality of Motherhood

  1. Awesome episode! It’s SO good and helpful to hear that other moms, regardless of the paths they had chosen, are still not fully sure of those paths. Or envy others. I have this feeling ALL THE TIME and blame myself a lot for either not accepting my path or thinking that I should be doing something else. And in the end all these decisions are just hard and so often not clear cut. It’s hard to be responsible for little ones in your life (I have 3), while trying not to give up on your professional aspirations. It’s also hard to know sometimes, whether you’re following your nature or what is expected off of you. For sure though I could not be a foreign correspondent :-) but it’s good to know that for some this may be the way to go. Thank you!

  2. I thought this episode was so interesting, and I love to hear about how Kelly balances her work passions with her life as a mom. I do have one item to point out – you mention in the podcast that Kelly is from Lincoln, NE and wrote a story about rising crime there. This shocked me, because I am from Lincoln, and I thought, “Wow, I’m from the same place as Kelly!” So I googled it. Turns out she’s from Lincoln ILLINOIS.

    Anyway – love the show Hillary. Thank you for making it!!

  3. I am definitely no war journalist, but so much of Ms. McEvers story rang true for me. When we recently moved from Asia to Europe it was such a huge change in family culture. The judgement is real out in the West, and if I ever decide to have another kid I would opt for Asia in a heartbeat.
    She was so on point with people, men or women, willing to help out. On more than one occasion I’ve had people play with or hold my son while I eat lunch in a restaurant or get a package ready at the POS office.

    I have to say, I’m probably projecting my issues onto this interview but I never really wanted motherhood. And while I love it and adore my son more than anything in the world, I had him right after I graduated college and I haven’t had my chance to have a fulfilling career. Hearing Hillary talk about the difference about going down the parenthood path or career path was very eye opening. Kelly McEvers is an inspiration to get back to the job hunting. As Hillary also says, I don’t want to do war correspondent, that’s not my thing either (though so incredibly bad ass) I would like to get back to cultural studies.

    Anyways, I just wanted to say that this episode resonated with me and thank you for putting this together.

  4. Thank you for this episode! I agree that it was so nice to hear both parenting perspectives – career vs. taking time off. Before I had kids, I was an aspiring archaeologist and I traveled the world going on digs and meeting new people. I took a break from this path once I started having kids (I have 2). Many of my graduate school friends have gone on to have fulfilling careers in archaeology and I chose to stay home with my kids and slowly complete my PhD. While I would not change my decision to stay at home with my kids, I certainly miss the traveling and working in academia. I just received my doctorate after 12 years of school and research. I often feel that trying to pick up my career where I left it (7 years ago) will be impossible. Listening to Hillary and Kelly gave a me a little light and a little hope. No matter the path you choose, it’s always going to be difficult when kids are involved. What I learned today was to never stop moving forward. Thank you!

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