EPISODE #89

When Katie Couric Became a Single Mom

EPISODE #89

When Katie Couric Became a Single Mom

Katie Couric was hosting the Today show. She was married to a lawyer named Jay Monahan. They had two daughters together. In 1998, Jay died of colon cancer, and Katie suddenly became a single parent.

Katie and Jay with their daughters Ellie + Carrie

Katie and Jay with their daughters Ellie + Carrie

Katie with her daughters in 2015

Katie with her daughters in 2015

Katie helped her kids through the grieving process. And, to distract herself, she threw herself into her work, interviewing some of the most famous—and infamous—people of our time. In the year 2000, Katie did a remarkable thing: she put her colon on TV.

By televising her own colonoscopy, Katie hoped to raise awareness about colon cancer—and perhaps save other families from losing loved ones. And it worked. The rate of people getting the procedure went up 20% in this country. People called it The Couric Effect.

Katie’s kids are grown now, and out of the house. Two years ago, she got remarried to a guy named John Molner. John’s got two grown kids of his own. Katie likes to say their families had kind of a delayed Brady Bunch situation.

Katie Couric wedding

Katie Couric and John Molner on their wedding day in 2014.

john w katies daughters and his daughter

John Molner with his daughter, Allie (in the Northwestern sweatshirt), and step-daughters Ellie and Carrie. John has a son, too, named Henry.

Tune in to hear more about Katie’s family life—including her own teenage years (what her mom did when she caught Katie “necking”)—and how Katie used puppies as a bargaining tool. (This is one of our favorite Weird Parenting Wins—or fails, depending on how you look at it. Leave YOUR Weird Parenting Wins … and Fails … in the comments!)

k as kid

Katie Couric as a kid. We recognize that smile!

Katie Couric dogs

Katie with her two dogs, Maisy and Cooper, in 2016.

More Katie Couric
You can catch Katie Couric on Yahoo! News. And don’t miss her new podcast called, you guessed it, Katie Couric.

What unexpected circumstances have forced YOU to revise the way you raise your family?
Or maybe you noticed your own parents going through a big change? Tell us below!

Top photo: Josh Cohen; wedding photo: Brian Dorsey Studios

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10 thoughts on “EPISODE #89: When Katie Couric Became a Single Mom

  1. I love your podcast. Thank you for this interview. I was not married to my Oldest son’s father but he was sick (we didn’t know it) and he died when my son turned one (on my son’s birthday). I was 22 and after he died, I dated quite a bit but never brought anyone around my son. My son was always an old man and said things to me that left me wondering where he got this from. I think it was because he spends a lot of time with my parents. I made it a point never to promise him something I couldn’t deliver. I hated that my mom did that to me when I was little. She did it to him when he was little, ugh!!! He’s 17 now and he tells me that I’m too soft on his younger sister and brother. I tell him, that when it was just us, I had to be the enforcer and the mommy. He just rolls his eyes at me.

  2. It was fun to hear about Katie Couric’s life. I think there needs to be a re-defining of
    “single- mom,” because, as it is, it is an all-encompassing term that applies to so many different kinds of moms. There is the Couric kind who can afford to have serious help (nanny, driver, shoppers, cooks, cleaning staff), and then the moms who co-parent, and then the moms like me who are truly parenting solo and singularly, who do the cooking, bathing, cleaning, bedtime routine, chaperoning, etc, 100% of the time. It seems strange to me that these very different parenting circumstances are lumped into one descriptor.

    1. Thanks for this perspective, hannah. My producer and I talked about this a lot as we were editing the show. Is there a descriptor that you think suits you better than “single mom”? Solo mom?

      1. Good question! Yes, maybe, full-time working Solo Mom ! I am going to think a bit more about it:) Thanks for your speedy reply.

    2. I so agree with this!! I call myself a sole parent – I hope that this sends the message that no other parent exists at all, and never has existed. And I very much agree that my experience as a sole parent is wildly different from families with single parents who co-parent, either happily or unhappily, and it seems so weird to me to be lumped into a group with them.

  3. I love this question! Ans.: There is no right answer that won’t lead to doubt and regret.
    Anyway, this is my experience for a parenting win.
    I breast fed my daughter on demand for the first four years of her life. I loved the experience and I had decided that I would breast feed my kid for as long as possible, or until she ween herself or my body said ‘no more.’ It was not as black and white.

    After nine months as a stay home mom I missed work and I decided to go back. When she turned fourteen months my husband took over the daily care of our child. So, in preparation for this huge transition, I pumped regularly for a few weeks,(breast milk has a long shelf-life when frozen, as you might know). But she loved nursing so much, that she never took to a pacifier or a bottle with breast milk…a task my stay-home husband dreaded because our daughter’s refusal to drink from it. Fortunately, I worked just ten-minutes walking distance from our home and we agreed that he would bring her to my place of work, at lunch and brake time, so I could nurse her. however, I continued to pump breast milk just in case one day she took to the battle and I also wanted to maintain milk production and maybe have a little brake; with the hope that she would ween herself off it eventually. I was committed. But guess what, after three years, she was still going strong. She was not ready. Yet, I was ready to end it, but did not know how. The guilt was more powerful. Then something closed to miraculous happened! At around the time that she was going to turn four, I was diagnosed with a BAD case of a ‘sinus infection’. I needed antibiotics. This is my chance I thought. I was motivated. This is a good reason…never mind that I was intellectually ready before! But this, this kind of gave me emotional strength. And I was off.
    I told my daughter that mommy was not going to be able to breast feed her for the next ten days because I was taking antibiotics that they were not good for her…my daughter was very inquisitive about the whole thing about antibiotics. I imagine she needed to make sense of this awful thing about to take place in her short-lived existence! (I mean to be sarcastic; in a good way). And after a long explanation, she said, “Okay mommy!” I was so relieved that she understood. At the same time, everyday, she asked, “are you done taking your antibiotics mommy?” To which I answered for the next twenty, thirty, forty…days, “no. no yet.” Then, my body stop producing milk, and three months turned into one, two, three years. On the other hand, my daughter would for the first year, and after I had officially announced that I was finished taking antibiotic, lashed on to my nipples and tried to suckle once more. I never rejected her, I just said, ‘no more milk. My body does not make it anymore.” But she continued trying until she was nine years old. It was tough at first, but I have to admit, breast feeding my daughter was one of the most beautiful and bond lasting experiences she and I will ever have. She is now 13 and we laugh about it.

  4. Weird Parenting Win: My daughter is adopted and she is biologically my niece. Still with me? So, I always think of my sister growing up (her biological mother) when I’m faced with how to handle situations with her. My daughter went through a phase where she wasn’t falling asleep well at night. She would cry for up to 2 hours (of course I was in and out of the room the whole time) before she fell asleep. I tried different things, including playing soft music. My daughter LOVES music. Nothing worked. Finally, one night, I thought back to my sister always BLARING dance music from her room at all hours of the night. Her music would blast through the entire house and keep us awake while she snoozed soundly. I decided to try it. The first night I tried it, I played Justin Beiber through the speaker on her baby monitor. She fell asleep within’ 10 minutes. That sealed the deal. My husband went out the next day and bought her a wireless speaker and every night we blast Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Twenty One Pilots, and more to put our 2 year old to sleep. The type of music and the volume at which it is played in her room is what makes this so strange to me. But, hey… whatever works!

  5. I really appreciated Katie acknowledging the role her nanny played in helping her raise her kids. I think it’s harmful for women to see & compare themseles to mothers with demanding careers without recognizing how reliant they are on nannies/childcare providers to keep their kids healthy and happy. As a nanny, it’s refreshing to hear someone like Katie speak so openly and warmly about their relationship with their nanny. (I confess I haven’t listened to every episode of your podcast, so maybe it has been addressed before.) I’m a non-parent who works with kids, and I enjoy hearing the perspectives you feature on your show. :)

  6. Weird Parenting Win: My 3 year old daughter lost one of her water shoes in the huge waves at the beach in Newport RI this weekend. It was almost a day-ruiner – meltdown, demands that I dive into the waves and produce her tiny pink shoe, sobbing…

    When I calmed her down we stood in the waves and I explained to her that Ariel had probably snatched it for her collection in her grotto. Thank god I was right that she’d be okay with this! Quick thinking saved the day and she was able to move on. We blew kisses to her shoe and told it to have a good life in the ocean. I almost melted hearing her tiny voice yell “I LOVE YOU, SHOE!”.

  7. I just admire such women. My sister is a single mom of two teenage kids and I know how difficult it is. I just can not imagine how women can successfully combine work and motherhood.
    On the Internet, there are many blogs, books http://www.worldwidelearn.com/education-articles/single-mom-resources.html and advice for single moms but of course that most mothers have to deal with their own problems on their own and bring their own formula for the perfect life alone.
    I try to help my sister at home and spending time with my nephews because teenage age is not difficult but I understand that she still have to do a lot in order to make life comfortable for kids. Last months I took my nephews to a concert of their favorite band since they waited for that Twenty One Pilots tour http://livetourtickets.com/twenty-one-pilots-tickets/ so long. I just wanted my sister to have little bit free time for herself but she was so exhausted that when we were on a concert she spent that time for sleep.
    So I hope that one day she will meet a man who will appreciate her and will be happy to share life together. I think it is what every single mother deserve!

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