Prime Time Working Mom Moments.
For years, it has seemed acceptable in some circles to criticize career-oriented parents – particularly hard-charging dads, folks who, on the surface, appear more wedded to work and career than to their families, those who have spouses who take care of all things domestic for them and who eventually wind up feeling taken for granted. These parents are caricatured in movies, books and on TV, mocked for failing to see what’s important; they’re taught lessons about priorities. They’re told that they can’t have both, a family and a high-powered career.
But what happens when a parent attempts to buck conventional wisdom about what it takes to succeed in a career and to become a nurturing parent? During one week on different TV programs, two characters tried to do just that -- be a professional and a parent -- and faced varying results.
In a recent episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dr. Miranda Bailey had promised her husband Tucker that she’d leave work at Seattle Grace Hospital and get home in time to see her son in his first Halloween costume. But, as her casework piled up, she was unable to make it home in time. Instead of lovingly gazing at her little boy in his costume, she was helping another boy who needed cosmetic surgery in order to give him a set of ears. And Dr. Bailey’s husband was ticked.
While venting her frustration, Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) uttered words that have doubtlessly been uttered, or at least thought, by many other, hard-working professionals striving to be good parents:
“I’m here, late at night, on Halloween, helping an earless boy get ears. And my husband wants to act like that’s not an important thing. He wants to act like it isn’t a good thing I did today . . . I missed my son’s first Halloween and my heart is aching inside of my chest but that doesn’t mean anything because, in a black and white world, I simply didn’t make it home and that makes me a bad guy. I’m always the bad guy.”
Obviously, Dr. Bailey isn’t a bad guy. Judging from previous episodes over several seasons, her character has struggled with pregnancy, motherhood and the unyielding world of medicine. While she’s been on the receiving end of warnings from the chief of surgery (who never had children and whose wife left him because of his work-a-holic ways) not to sacrifice family for work, Dr. Bailey has been determined to try to plow ahead in her career, like the rest of her childless and unmarried colleagues, including one who secured a promotion over her. Last season, after listening to surgical intern Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) bitterly lament the emotional devastation caused by her mother, surgeon Ellis Grey’s careerism, Dr. Bailey was determined not to turn into Ellis Grey, so, when she had a spare moment, she called her son on the telephone and sang him a lullaby.