This week it was announced that the New York Mets’ second baseman, Daniel Murphy would be taking a “few days off” in Paternity Leave. Murphy’s wife, Victoria, gave birth to their first child on March 31st. This time off coincided with the Mets’ opening day, and predictably the knucklehead fans took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
Yes, we get it, you think “Paternity Leave” is a joke. Mike Francesa, WFAN sports radio talk show host took to the airwaves to fan the flames and called-out Murphy:
I don’t know why you need three days off, I’m going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back. What do you do in the first couple days? Maybe you take care of the other kids. Well, you gotta have someone to do that if you’re a Major League Baseball player. I’m sorry, but you do. Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple days, you know that.
What are you going to do? I mean you are going to sit there and look at your wife in a hospital bed for two days? Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple of days; you know that you’re not doing much the first couple days with the baby that was just born.
Boomer Esiason got in on the action as well inferring that Murphy’s wife should have had a c-section before the season so that Murphy could have been present for opening day. Esiason has since back-tracked from those comments, but the former Jets quarterback never backed away from his opinion that players should not miss games after a child is born.
The testosterone-charged machismo world of the American male puts pressure on the husband/father to abandon his family and get back to work. Francesa framed his criticism around the “you’re a Major League Baseball player” status of Murphy and that it was more important for the player to be in New York with his team than in Jacksonville with his family.
Maybe Francesa is a good husband/father, I don’t know the man, but his comments indicate that he is of the “the wife raises the children and I bring home a paycheck” crowd. Well good for Mr. Francesa, but that’s not how healthy marriages work. The husband is there to serve his family, in whatever way is necessary. If that means taking a couple days off work to care for the family, then that’s what you do.
Child birth is traumatic for a woman’s body, frankly, I don’t know how they do it. It has been often said that if men bore the burden of childbirth, the human race would be extinct…and I COMPLETELY AGREE. I watched it, twice, it ain’t pretty. As a husband and father, your entire world changes at the very moment the child emerges from its mother. You are now responsible for more than just yourself. You now have a family to provide for, to protect, and now to serve.
In the moments after birth, your wife is going to be a wreck. YOU have to run interference. You have to make sure the hospital room door is closed until your wife is ready for people to see her. You have to tell people “no.” …yes, even your wife’s mother. No easy task, but it is yours.
So what does the husband/father do in that first week when the baby is born? Whatever the mother/wife needs, that’s what. If that means fending off the in-laws/neighbors/friends from coming over, so be it. If that means cooking/cleaning/laundry/etc…then so be it.
What Daniel Murphy did was the honorable thing to do. Take a couple of days to care for your family and then get back to work. Certainly the job of a baseball player is less important than that of a husband. It is a very long season, Mets fans. Murphy missed two games. He is modeling what being a good husband and father should be, and for that he should be celebrated, not denigrated.