Mary Louise Kelly, NPR news correspondent and anchor of All Things Considered is the daughter of my friend Carol. Her third book, It. Goes. So. Fast., The Year of No Do-Overs, was the subject of her talk and book signing at The Atlanta History Center last night. The auditorium was packed. Since she’s a hometown girl (though she now lives in Washington), the room was full of friends, family, and other well-wishers, as well as NPR fans.
In a personal and emotional interview, she talked about the impossibility of being two places at once, of being a great war correspondent and missing out on soccer games and birthday parties, and the chronic guilt and self-doubt that goes along with a career mixed with motherhood. Her older son’s last year at home before college was a year of great reflection and self-reckoning for Mary Louise, and the book chronicles that.
It clearly resonated with the audience. I remembered my own essay, On-Call with a Four-Year-Old, and totally knew what Mary Louise was talking about. I remembered the years of feeling like the nanny knew my little boy better than I did. In fact, my husband and I both quit our jobs (which entailed lots of travel) on the same day, changing to jobs that allowed us to be at home more. We wanted to have the fun of us, not the nanny, raising our son.
I also know I would have been a terrible stay- at-home mom. I loved pediatrics and was good at it, and was drawn to that career like a moth to a flame. I firmly believe that it was crucial for our son to see both of his parents working hard at something they loved and making a difference in the world. He is now a hard-working young man, and I am sure it is because he grew up seeing us work hard.
So, here’s to all the parents out there who feel split between home and work, who are torn in both directions daily, who second-guess themselves all the time. Here’s to making it work! And here’s to Mary Louise Kelly and her new book!