I feel like I’ve been a little ranty on the blog lately. Sorry about that. If only famous people would stop saying dumb things….(and hey, I spared you a post on Gwyneth’s ridiculous “working mom” interview, but if you want to read a good take on just how ridiculous she was, check out this post from my Listen to Your Mother director, Stephanie Stearns Dulli).
Anyway, back to my rant o’ the moment. (Consider yourself warned.)
Boomer Esiason. If I wanted to be generous and full of good thoughts, I’d say “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” ignore him, and move along.
But I’m not feeling particularly generous today.
The story starts with the Mets’ second baseman, Daniel Murphy, taking paternity leave this week to be with his family in Florida after his son’s birth.
Where this story should go from here:
Boomer: “Congratulations to Daniel Murphy, the Mets’ second baseman, on the birth of his son. He’ll be back on Thursday. In the meantime, the Mets will continue to suck with XXX covering the second-base bag.”
Instead, here’s where it went:
Boomer: “Bottom line, that’s not me,” Esiason said on his morning radio show. “I wouldn’t do that. Quite frankly, I would have said ‘C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry, this is what makes our money, this is how we’re going to live our life, this is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life.’”
Yes, this week is the start of the baseball season, so yes, ideally, Murphy would have been at Opening Day.
But you know what? Sometimes life – inconvenient, messy, happy, joyous life – gets in the way of the ideal. Sometimes it even gets in the way of the high holy day of Opening Day.
That pesky, inconvenient baby showed up at just the wrong time (early, I might add). And that pesky, annoying wife wouldn’t volunteer to have an elective c-section to avoid interfering with Opening Day. And that pesky, difficult player, dared to put his family ahead of a game, and availed himself of the three measly days of paternity leave offered to him by Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
There are so many places for me to go from here.
Let’s start with this: Where does Boomer Esiason get off saying he would TELL his wife that she’s having a c-section? What is this, the year 1750? Perhaps Boomer doesn’t remember what it’s like to have a pregnant wife, or maybe he wasn’t actually involved in her medical care at the time. But in 2014, you don’t tell your wife that she is going to have major surgery – perhaps against medical advice — to avoid inconveniencing the New York Mets.
I have no idea if Boomer prevailed on his wife back in the 19th century, where he apparently hails from, to have a c-section, but as I mentioned, it’s major surgery. I ended up with a c-section, and even without complications, it was major surgery. As in, no stairs, no lifting, no driving for two weeks. You don’t flippantly opt for that.
Besides which, most doctors are shifting their stance on scheduling elective c-sections more than a week before the due date, since such elective early deliveries have been proven to be more dangerous for the babies. As a result, insurance won’t cover the cost of the surgery unless it’s medically warranted, so unless Boomer wanted to pay the Murphys’ delivery bills, he should just shut his mouth.
Third, we’re talking about three days here. THREE DAYS. Three days after Teddy’s birth – by c-section! – we were still in the hospital. Now, I’m sure that Daniel Murphy makes enough to fly family in to help out if they don’t live nearby. That’s all well and good. But that doesn’t make up for the time that a new dad needs to be with his wife and new baby. I would have been lost without B during those days, and I don’t think he would have rather been anywhere other than holding Teddy in those first hours and days. Plus he gets to tell the “poop like tar” story over and over again about the first diapers. Why would anyone want to deprive Daniel Murphy of the same story-telling ability?
Which brings me to the point that gets me most fired up in all of this. (Yes, I was just getting started.) This country sucks when it comes to family leave. SUCKS. We are just one of three countries (of 178) in the world without paid parental leave. I won’t get into paid leave here, because that’s another can of worms and another soapbox from which it would be hard to pry me down off of. (Another day.)
It’s taken companies a long time to come around to the idea of providing fathers with even unpaid paternity leave, but it’s happening, however slowly. But the surest way to make sure that these efforts fail is if new dads don’t take the time that they’re offered. That just makes it easier for companies to say, “See? They don’t need it” and to reverse course.
That’s why we need more Daniel Murphys, not less — and many fewer blowhards like Boomer Esiason (and Mike Francesa, who made similarly clueless statements about Murphy’s leave). We need guys who are willing to stand up and say “My family is worth it and I’m taking this time,” in the face of whatever grief or ridicule they get from their co-workers, bosses, and sports radio talk show hosts. We need them to start a trend, to make it possible for more guys to follow in their footsteps and to put more pressure on companies to give new families the time they need in those precious – and often such tough — early days. It shouldn’t be uncool or irresponsible for a new dad to want to bond with his newborn, especially when that new dad earns his livelihood playing a child’s game.