Martyr in the House.
House would seem like the last place one would go to find a brutally honest, scarily unflattering portrait of the sometimes complex emotions that accompany modern motherhood. Well, I suppose the Fox drama is the place to find all things brutally honest and scarily unflattering portraits of people, like the chief character Dr. Gregory House. But it hasn’t focused on the experiences of a mother, especially one trying to work and raise a baby. Until now.
Over the past few weeks, the show has featured a story arc about hospital administrator and Dean of Medicine Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) who became the foster mother of a newborn baby girl whom she hopes to adopt. After undergoing years of failed infertility treatments, the single, hard-working Cuddy was finally given a baby to sleep in that creamy yellow nursery she created in her home which radiates all kinds of gingham warmth. But Cuddy had a really rough transition from being a singularly focused, high-powered hospital executive to someone who’s a career gal and has added another job title to the mix: new mom.
Once that eagerly sought baby was finally in her home, Cuddy thought that her foray into motherhood should be utterly flawless and verbally beat herself up when it wasn’t. Like any mom with a newborn who’s also trying to work, her beautiful home had become messy, littered with bottles, diapers and baby junk as she literally balanced her baby on top of her while keeping her laptop computer upright on the sofa next to her. Cuddy was horrified when the state’s children’s services representative showed up early to inspect her home to determine if she was a capable foster mother for the baby. Though she passed his inspection (“You are heads and shoulders above most of the foster moms I visit,” the examiner said), Cuddy felt like a loser because her house wasn’t tidy and she was sloppily dressed.
A colleague, Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), told her to focus on the fact that she’d passed her home inspection and would likely get to adopt the baby. Cuddy didn’t buy it. “I passed by their meager standard,” she said. “I failed by mine.”
Wilson shook his head and replied, “Why do women always do that . . . create ridiculous standards that no human could meet, with your careers, with your kids? You’ve got to be more like us men.”
“Be lazy?” she asked. “Blame others?”
“Get help!” Wilson said forcefully. “Most men in your position have a deputy and two assistants at work, and a wife and two nannies at home. You’re not Superwoman. Don’t be a martyr!”