‘The Mindy Project’ Takes On Baby vs. Career Battle

The Mindy Project is taking a refreshing look at work-life balance for new moms, acknowledging the difficult decision some women face when it comes to returning to work after having a baby. No, it isn’t the tough choice to leave the baby the show is addressing, it’s the pressure to leave the job to become a full-time mother.

“At the urging of Danny, who wished he had a stay-at-home mother, Mindy quits her practice,” writes Rebecca Raber of Takepart.com.

“Though the show annoyingly steers clear of showing the hard work of raising an infant — Leo doesn’t have colic or reflux, never seems to cry or prevent Mindy from sleeping, and is an adorable accessory she can tote around New York City — it does a good job illustrating the common feeling of not living up to one’s ideal of motherhood when Mindy becomes an acolyte of an aspirational mommy blog.”

Try as she might, Mindy just can’t embrace staying at home full time, and ultimately returns to her job as an OBGYN. When asked why she isn’t home with the baby, she replies, “That’s like asking Rihanna why she’s at the Met Ball. I’m queen of this ish.” She then aids with a successful surgery.

It’s one of the primary struggles working women face after giving birth: do I let go of the identity I’ve created to this point or let my child become my identity? Ironically, recent research suggests mothers may be spending too much time with their children compared with their mothers, who didn’t work outside the home.

Wrote the researchers: For 3-to–11-year-olds, mothers spend an average of 11 to 30 hours each week either fully engaged in activities with their kids, or nearby and accessible when needed. And for kids in their early teens, moms are there between 11 and 20 hours each week. On average, in 1975 moms spent just over 7 hours per week with their kids. — Forbes.com

Just as Mindy felt pressure to leave her job to remain 100-percent engaged with her newborn son, mothers are feeling that same pressure in today’s society. Yes, there are women who feel called to stay home with their kids from day one, but many feel the dreaded “mommy guilt” because they prefer employment outside the home.

The Mindy Project addresses this exact issue, spending an entire episode illustrating the mind-numbing boredom that can come out of staying home with a newborn baby. It is a refreshingly realistic look at motherhood from the perspective of women who love their jobs.

Is there no better image of the impossibly high standards to which real moms hold themselves (and often fall short of) than that of Mindy in a chic dress and heels, slavishly cleaning the house, which Leo immediately messes up again, only to read on the mom blog that she was supposed to be going for a run and glazing a duck at the same time?

The Mindy Project is in its fourth season – its first on Hulu – and stars Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina.

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