NPR Envy

Every mother has a secret life.

The one she would rather be living on the days when the kids are fighting too much, when there are too many dirty dishes, piles of laundry, diapers to change, problems to solve. In other words, every day. This secret life is the one that looks fabulous, meaningful, and thrilling. Here is mine:

I want to be Linda Wertheimer. Or Michele Norris. Or Nina Totenberg. I want to be a correspondent for National Public Radio. Of course, this fantasy comes partly from an intense desire to do something OTHER than the many tasks I have to do each day. Here are the things that I am sure are not on the job description of an NPR correspondent:

1. Field the following questions: Why is she looking at me? Where is my yo-yo? Can I have ice cream for lunch? Why does he get to do all the fun stuff? Why don’t you let me do anything fun?

2. Spend the majority of your day cooking three meals for ungrateful and frightfully picky eaters; follow up each meal by cleaning up after said ungrateful eaters

3. Troubleshoot all mechanical and emotional breakdowns

4. Willingly allow your body to be used as a jungle gym; do not stop; do it again. And again. And again. (Once, when I was really tired of swinging my daughter around, I told her to stop saying "again." She complied. She switched to: “Once more! Once more! Once more!”)

Here are the things I am certain ARE on the job description of an NPR correspondent:

1. Spend leisurely hours learning about really interesting people and topics

2. Convey your unique brand of confidence, expertise, and humility in fascinating stories you’ve whipped up while listening to classical music and sipping on lattes

3. Travel to exciting places without having to strap anyone into a car seat


I listen to NPR all the time. So much so that I can soothe a crying infant by humming the theme song from All Things Considered. You know the theory that babies actually hear in utero? I think it’s true: my babies all seemed mesmerized by the sound of Noah Adams’ voice. I spend a good deal of time with small children, so often, NPR is my only adult interaction, even it’s just between my ears and my radio. In the evening, when I am finally around another adult, my husband hears many a sentence that begins: “I heard on NPR today…”

I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning out the kids so that I can hear just a little bit more of Terry Gross (uh-huh, uh-huh), or Brooke Gladstone, or Steve Inskeep. The children, on the other hand, have begun to groan and say, “not the news!” when I turn the radio on. NPR is my lifeline to the world, my source for news, my place to learn new things. I have grown to trust and admire many of the correspondents; hence, my secret fantasy to actually BE one of them.

But lately, a little bit of jealousy has been creeping in. They’re all so damn wonderful and insightful and fascinating. It’s easy to be all of those things when your brain cells have not been decimated by too much Dr. Suess and too many potty jokes. So really, I can’t decide whether to hate them or dream of being them.

We’ll see. I’m not sure I have time to attend journalism school anyway, what with all the playdates and soccer practices I currently have lined up. But then again, I can’t even get someone from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me to return my emails and let me be on their show, so maybe I’m just not NPR material.


Erika said…
I thought it was just me that feels like NPR is my lifeline to the outside world. Why are we not getting together more? I love to start conversations with, "On NPR today..."

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