So, a dad is getting belittled for taking paternity leave. That’s a new one. If you haven’t heard by now, Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, was torn to shreds by radios hosts Mike Francesa from WFAN Sports Radio and Boomer and Carlton, also from WFAN for taking advantage of MLB’s paternity leave, under which he’ll get a whopping 3 days off to spend with his wife and new baby.
I realize that baseball players play in 162 regular season games a year over 7 months and they’ll have the rest of the year to bond with their families. I also realize they are making a ton of money. But every man that says those first few days of your child’s life are not important doesn’t get it. And Boomer and Carlton and Mike Francesca do not get it.
Carlton: “You get your ass back to your team and you play baseball … there’s nothing you can do, you’re not breastfeeding the kid.”
Francesa: “One day, I understand. Go see the baby be born and come back. You’re a Major League Baseball player, you can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help … What are you gonna do? Are you gonna sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?”
The first few days of my children’s lives were ones that I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars. Especially my daughter, who was immediately placed in the NICU after her birth and stayed there for 8 days. Did my wife “need” me to be there? You would have to ask her, but I needed to be there
But this is also where the radio hosts are missing the point. I was there to help my wife and be there for my new children, but that wasn’t the only reason I was there. Those first few days set the groundwork for the rest of my parenting life. I was involved and will always be involved. And in those moments when I’m frustrated with my daughter, all I need to do is remember holding her blue body in my arms as she was hooked up to tubes and machines to bring me back to earth.
I’m more surprised at Boomer Esiason’s comments stating that his wife would have had a c-section so the birth wouldn’t conflict with opening day. I don’t know Esiason, but I have followed his NFL career and his sports casting career and he always seemed like an involved dad. His work in raising money for cystic fibrosis is proof of that. (His son was born with cystic fibrosis.) Putting aside the fact that he’s suggesting a woman have major surgery for his own convenience, let’s say his wife does get a c-section. Then what? So she’s at home resting while her husband goes off to work while a “nurse,” as Francesa, mentions takes care of the baby and the mother. After each of my wife’s deliveries, I took care of her. Nobody loves my wife like I do and I made a vow to love her and take care of her. Talk about a job? That’s a husband’s job.
I’m going to see the Mets on Sunday, and if Murphy is back from paternity leave, I’ll give him the biggest ovation I can. Not for being a baseball player on my favorite team, but for having his priorities in order. I also hope he hits a homerun. But it sounds like he already has.
Journalist Josh Levs, who is currently writing a book on paternal leave posted a great letter directed at the radio hosts. To read that letter, click here.