‘This Is A Work In Progress’: NPR’s Audie Cornish On Being A New Mom | WBEZ
Skip to main content


Power Up: NPR’s Audie Cornish

Audie Cornish says she had something like an epiphany after posting a photo of herself and her new baby on Twitter in April. It was take your child to work day at NPR. 

“My baby [was] looking adorable and I’m very well dressed, holding him up in the air,” Cornish told Nerdette co-host Greta Johnsen.

“And I realized, oh my god, I’m part of the problem. Because there is absolutely nothing worse than opening up a glossy magazine and seeing a picture of some woman with, like, a pet and a 3-year-old, everyone’s groomed to the nines, and she’s like, ‘I woke up like this.’”

Cornish, who hosts NPR’s daily news program All Things Considered, told us about the people not pictured in that photo that are helping her navigate motherhood for the first time. It's part of Nerdette’s new project, Power Up, where fascinating people explain how they set themselves up for success in an exhausting world. Below are highlights from the conversation. 

Adding a caveat to that photo caption

Audie Cornish: We all know, as ladies, we are looking at that photo and being like, “There’s no way she —” right? Tut-tutting. “There’s no way she did all of those things by herself.” 

Cornish: And so, yeah, I totally had to repost and say, “Oh by the way, the nanny took this picture. And by the way, I share that nanny with a coworker who also has a baby. And by the way, our husbands work and that goes into paying that person. And by the way, there are many people who are helping me in my life to make all of this happen — because you cannot do it by yourself.”

Admitting she pays for help with childcare

Cornish: It’s very embarrassing to say that out loud. Some of that is about how we feel politically right now about people who are wealthy and the elite, so to speak. But some of that has to do, I think, with shaming women about getting help. You know: You are supposed to be able to do all of the things.

Greta Johnsen: And what’s wrong with you if you can’t?

Cornish: And what’s wrong with you if you can’t. … Recently I’ve been preaching forgiveness of self. Basically: “That’s OK.” I have to say that to myself a couple times a day. Like you’re going to see your kid on Facetime, and instead of being like, “He shouldn’t be in front of screens,” you need to think, “Thank God my child gets to see me in some capacity today.”

Being honest with herself

Cornish: I feel like you’re going to want some tips or something and I’ve given horrendous advice so far. Because basically, if you can’t afford help, you’re like, “This doesn’t help me.” And I’ve been there. I’ve been that person that’s just like, “This is advice I cannot use.” 

But I do think that it is on all of us to be honest about what’s involved in parenting and what’s involved in balancing work, especially work that takes many, many, many hours in the week.

Having children in times of strife

Cornish: There’s always something difficult in the world. There’s always something that’s going to make you question: Do I bring children into this world? But we all do. We keep doing it. Right? I feel like I should say something here like, “Ellipsis, something something, enduring human spirit.” There’s movies about this. So yeah, I’m one of the fools.

Johnsen: My parents described having children as a leap of faith.

Cornish: Yeah. Yeah it is. But it’s so worth it. I’ve definitely become one of those people. Because I look at him as being somebody who’s going to be a part of shaping his own world, not that he’s arriving a victim of it. 

We also want to know how YOU power up. Record yourself on your phone and email the audio file to nerdettepodcast@gmail.com.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation, which was produced and adapted for the web by Justin Bull.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.