Claire Huxtable Was A Working Mom.
It was the fourth episode of the first season of the sitcom, “The Cosby Show.” And Claire Huxtable lost it. Decked out in colorful, sharp work attire -- her leather briefcase prominently placed in the family living room -- attorney Claire had just seen four of her five children off to school when she realized that her 5-year-old daughter Rudy had forgotten her lunch. She chased the girl down the street only to discover that Rudy left it behind on purpose because Rudy was having second thoughts about the lunch she made for herself: Tuna and peanut butter.
Then Claire accidentally locked herself out on the front stoop. After her husband Cliff, an ob/gyn who worked in an office in the lower level of their New York City townhouse, let her in, she headed straight for the kitchen and surveyed the post-breakfast mess. And became utterly frustrated. With the housework. With the fact that kids were always crying and fighting in her house, or doing odd things kids do, like drinking bathwater. With the fact that she would labor on legal briefs for weeks only to have the case settle out of court, her efforts wasted.
When Cliff asked her specifically what was pushing her buttons, she replied, “What it is, is it’s a life so crowded that [she paused and noticed the time] I don’t have time to figure it out because I’m going to be late for work.” In response to Claire’s mini-meltdown, the amiable Cliff arranged for the two to spend the night at a swanky hotel, complete with good food and room service. “Tonight is, ‘You are Not a Mother Night,’” he announced.
While it’s true that the hit comedy “The Cosby Show” (1984-1992) was ground-breaking for its ebullient portrayal of an upper-middle class African-American family with two married parents in lucrative professions – law and medicine – what didn’t garner as much attention was the fact that Claire (Phylicia Rashad) provided an unapologetic, strong working mom role model. Claire was not only shown in multiple episodes of “The Cosby Show” in her well-appointed office and in court questioning a witness, but she was allowed to be seen as an imperfect mom, who lost her patience with the children and shouted at them. And although Cliff’s (Bill Cosby) obstetrical work kept him out of the house at odd hours delivering babies, because his office was in the house, he frequently took charge of the kids, picked them up from school and made dinner. They were the yin and yang of parenting.