The baseball season has begun and there are numerous stories all across the MLB. But one story from this week has me a bit riled up. The story involves Mets player Daniel Murphy. It seems that Murphy’s wife had a baby right about the time that the season began and Murphy took two weeks off of baseball in order to spend time with his recovering wife and new baby. Now, first of all, I want to send a big “Congratulations” to Daniel Murphy and his wife on the birth of their child. Babies are a great blessing. But the story here is not simply about the birth of a baby. The story came in the aftermath. Two different radio personalities spoke out about Daniel Murphy’s choice to take paternity leave. The first, Mike Francesa, says he doesn’t understand why any dad needs more than one day to be with his wife and new baby. He says WAY more than that. You can listen to it below. But he simply does not understand.
The second came from Boomer Esiason, who said that if it was him he would have made his wife have a C-section in order to not miss Opening Day.
What makes me angry as I listen to these radio hosts go off on Daniel Murphy and the idea of a paternity leave is that I fought for a paternity leave for myself when my second child was going to be born. And I deeply cherished those two weeks.
Francesa asks what a dad is going to do after one day spent with his wife and new baby. Well, Mr. Francesa, let me tell you what I did during that time. First, I bonded with my new baby. I held her. I talked to her. I just spent time with my beautiful newborn. And, Mr. Francesa, while bonding time may not FEEL productive to you, it has been a tremendous blessing for my family and for my relationship to my daughter. Second, I cared for my child. My wife had a perfectly normal birth and my daughter had no medical problems at all, but ALL newborns have needs. No, I did not breastfeed her, but I still helped quite a bit. When she would cry, I would comfort her as best I could. When she was wet or stinky, I often changed her diaper. Most importantly, I was there for her if she needed me…something I want her to believe will be true of me all throughout her life. Third, I was there to support my wife. As I said, she had a normal delivery with no major complications. I didn’t “need” to be there with her. She was perfectly capable of taking care of things by herself…plus her parents were staying with us as well. But my presence let her know that I was there for her. It let her know that I wanted to support her through everything…good times and bad. Now, moral support may not seem like an important job to you, Mr. Francesa, but it was very important to my wife and to me.
Now, for many folks taking a paternity leave is not possible. Many can’t get time off work for that. To that matter, I call upon government and business leaders to consider offering your employees paid leave when they have a child. I know that there are still many businesses that do not offer paid leave for female employees when they have a baby and I think that is a shame. I think women should get a minimum of 6 weeks of paid leave and men should get at least a week…preferably two. But, men, don’t waste that time. Don’t take that leave in order to go on a vacation or catch up on TV watching or something. Take that time to bond with your child and to support your wife.
Now, I would be remiss if I did not say something about Boomer Esiason’s comments. Mr. Esiason, clearly you do not understand C-sections. It is a MAJOR surgery that you should never go into lightly. I understand that you live in a world of luxury and that many in that world subject themselves to procedures such as this merely for convenience, but I think that is a TERRIBLE idea. There are so many risks involved in C-sections. It is completely ridiculous for anyone to subject themselves or their spouse to major surgery and its associated risks simply for convenience. Mr. Esiason, I do not know if you are married, but if you are I feel sorry for your wife if you care so little about her well-being that you would rather she undergo major surgery than miss a few days of work. That is very sad to me.
Daniel Murphy, I applaud you for taking the time to be with your wife. You are doing the right thing. I wish that all dad’s could and would do likewise. Don’t let the haters get you down. You are being a good husband and a good father. Continue to be there for your wife and kids. I know it must be hard with your baseball schedule to be as present to them as you may want to be, but take these opportunities when you get them and make the most of them. We need more dads in America like you who take time for their families. It’s stories like yours that we need to be lifting up in our society…NOT tearing down. We’ve already got some serious paternity problems. Let’s not make things any worse by ripping on the few examples in the news of dads doing it right. So, Mr. Murphy, I celebrate you and caring dads like you. May we all learn from this story and create a new world where moms and dads both have opportunities to be actively involved in the lives of their kids and where that involvement is lifted up and not torn down by the media. Can we do that? I pray that we can.