It’s such a cliché, but guys, even when they are trying to be funny, can sound so crass when they talk about women and issues important to them — their insecurities, their needs, their bodies. The boors on sports talk radio fell right into that trap when they circled around Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy’s decision to take time off to help his wife bring home their newborn son.
“That’s not me. I wouldn’t do that,” said legendary football quarterback Boomer Esiason, as if to prove just how more masculine he is than Murphy, even in retirement, during his morning show this week on WFAN. “Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts.” After all, said Craig Carton, ever playing funny man as Esiason’s co-host: “There’s nothing you can do anyway. You’re not breastfeeding the kid.” Esiason added, “We don’t have the plumbing to take care of what needs to be taken care of.”
Later that day on his show, Mike Francesa said, “Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple of days, you know that … You can hire a nurse.”
I’ll cut some slack for Esiason, Francesa and their ilk for the tone of these and other tiresome comments on the station — what’s talk radio without manufactured controversy and cheap-and-easy humor? Murphy’s got up to three days of paternity leave in his contract, and his wife lives in Florida and cannot travel for at least two weeks as she heals. He took two days off, and he was back Thursday to play the Washington Nationals. Plus, it’s early in the season, boys. Simmer down.
Still, I understand what they’re trying to say. The owners, the teammates, the sponsors, the fans are all relying on Murphy. He’s got work to do. “When you have a unique job like Daniel Murphy has and I have, you get back,” Francesa said.
My husband couldn’t leave his university teaching job for more than a day late in that fall semester when our son, Harrison, was born. He was there for the birth and then had to go back, like Francesa did when his son, Harrison, was born. I did use his help those very first hours after we got home, but I wanted a lot of support for our first child and I had the luxury of getting it. My mother-in-law flew in from Texas and stayed for some time, and my parents and sister stopped by often to check in.
Of course it would have been nice for Richard to be there to help even more with bottle feedings, sleep schedules, love, support and company. But I don’t resent him for going back to work so soon, and I don’t think he does knowing how blessed we have been. That would be as much of a cliché as all the macho repartee about what a father’s help should entail once mom comes home.