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In her new memoir, NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks about the juggle of family and reporting

Today, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly is best known as one of the hosts of All Things Considered.

But she also spent more than a decade as a national security correspondent, which includes visits to Ukraine and North Korea. Her work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Politico, and other publications.

Away from reporting, she’s also written two suspense novels.

But Kelly is also the mom of two teenage boys, and often has a hard time juggling career and family. The past year was particularly challenging, as her oldest son James finished high school.


When discussing options for another book with her literary agent, they decided that her life –and not another work of fiction- should come next.

“This is the last year he’s going to be at home with me – I’ve missed so much – whether it’s pool parties, science fairs, taekwondo lessons, or soccer games, and this year I want to focus on him,” Kelly explained. “I don’t have any more do-overs to get this right.”

In her book It. Goes. So. Fast. The Year of No-Do-overs, she had some of those experiences, including a soccer game for a state championship in which James scored a goal in the final seconds. He’s now in his freshman year of college. Kelly recently talked about that game with Weekend Edition Host Scott Simon. She was also a guest this week on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Kelly’s younger son, Alexander, who had serious health issues as an infant and young child, is now a healthy teenager and not far from finishing high school himself.

The book also reflects on reporting from places like Pakistan 2006, and Ukraine in 2022, just as the war was about to start.

Her book also details a 2020 interview with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and how that conversation will be remembered as the 2024 election cycle moves forward.

"I hope what listeners would take away, or anybody I will be interviewing between now and the next election, is - we're going to go in and ask tough questions, and if somebody doesn't answer them, we'll try to keep asking them in a respectful and persistent way," she said. "And then we're going to interview and let listeners make up their own minds what they think about the answers or non-answers."

Kelly discusses her January 2020 interview with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Kelly said each major reporting trip is filled with regret as her kids grow up, but she’s also up to the challenge.

“I feel more alive than it may be possible for me to convey,” she said. “And it’s kind of the only place where I feel no guilt – because whatever is happening back home, if I’m in the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine, there is not much I can do about that. All I have to do is worry about wearing that one hat, and being the best journalist I can be.”

Jeff Bossert is Radio IQ's Morning Edition host.