So, a dad is getting belittled for taking paternity leave. That’s a new one.
New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy was torn to shreds this week by hometown WFAN sports radios hosts Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton for taking advantage of MLB’s paternity leave benefit, under which players can take a whopping three days off to spend with their partner and new baby.
Murphy, who played in all but seven of the team’s 324 games the previous two seasons, missed the first two games of this year.
I realize that baseball players have roughly five months after the season to bond with their families. I also realize they are making a ton of money and are expected to play and perform.
But any man that says those first few days of your child’s life are not important doesn’t get it. And Esiason, Carton and Mike Francesca do not get it.
Carton: “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 eight days. Did my wife “need” me to be there? You would have to ask her, but I needed to be there.
This is 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. Those first few days set the groundwork for the rest of my parenting life. I was involved and will always be involved. 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 and broadcasting career and he always seemed like an involved dad, proved by his work in raising money for cystic fibrosis, a debilitating disease that his son has. (Esiason apologized later for his comments.)
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 suggests, 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 Sunday, and if Murphy is in the lineup, 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 home run. But, as far as his family is concerned, it sounds like he already has.
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