I am a father of three children.
Well, at least that I know of. It could be more, but no paternity suits have arrived in my mailbox for sometime.
I was present for the birth of all three kids. It didn’t help my wife much as I was a nervous wreck each time. I’m bad with blood, needles and my loved ones in pain. The holy trinity.
By the time the final child arrived, I was told politely to wait outside while the magic happened. That decision was made on the basis that during the previous two deliveries I nearly fainted. Let’s call it a workplace safety call.
In any event, I soon learned that the real value to my wife was not me being present during birth, but being able to assist during the early period of the newborn’s life.
For those without children, what tends to happen with them in the first 12 weeks is that they cry, soil their pants, feed, sleep, repeat on about a four hour cycle. That doesn’t leave much time for a mother to sleep herself, let alone do other things such as normal home / work duties, socialise or just take a time out.
The greatest help to a new mother is for the father to allow her some rest by stepping up and taking over baby duties. Even for just a few hours. Elevate the value of that assistance exponentially by a factor of every additional child already in the household.
Now, I didn’t magically know that this was what my wife needed. In fact, I didn’t work it out until our third child was about five years of age. Yep, I didn’t work it out in time.
When my first child was born, I thought that my life still revolved around long hours at work, full control of the TV remote after dinner and being at the golf course for the whole of Saturday. It was my established routine. Why should my life change?
After the second child arrived, I had dropped the golf. But I wasn’t around much. Work was still a priority.
By the time my third child arrived, I was a bit more understanding of why my wife was always cranky at me. I just assumed she would look after the kids and I would earn the cash. How wrong I was.
Little did I know that my wife would hold this against me for the rest of my life.
Every fight, every little squabble, she owns me. I have no retort.
I was selfish. I put Dennis first. I put my needs and ego ahead of the family. It is something that I deeply regret and wish I could fix. But I can’t. It’s done. My wife is a superwoman and I was, what here in Australia we label a “shit bloke”.
This week, we are witnessing Alastair Cook make the exact same mistake.
He had this to say about the matter:
“It doesn’t make you feel like the best husband and father in the world leaving only 18 hours after the birth but we are here now and you have to get stuck in.”
If you makes you feel so bad, why did you abandon your family?
None of the reasoning that has been put forward makes any sense.
First and foremost, no job, no matter what it is, is more important than the well-being of your family. Never.
But let’s park that and look at what Cook had to say himself:
“You have to be here, it is a very privileged position to captain or play for your country so that is part of the reason we made the decision as a family for me to come back.”
No Alastair. You do not have to be there. Your employer, the ECB was quite clear in this regard. In fact, they said that there would be no recriminations for players that didn’t go on the tour.
Contrast Cook’s position with Eoin Morgan. He didn’t go to Bangladesh. He’s also an English captain.
Now some are calling Eoin weak and lacking leadership for not travelling. But for people to fire bullets at sportspeople who don’t feel safe is fairly lame. If my employer asked me to go into areas of known terrorism, I’d probably balk too.
Cook choosing to go to Bangladesh is misrepresented if stated that he is showing leadership. It is not. In fact, choosing to abandon his wife and family so that he can play cricket is an appalling lack of judgement.
Leadership would have seen Cook explain that he would be away from the tour for two weeks so that he could fulfill his husband duties. These, on the addition of a new member of the family, trump any other self-serving itch that captaining England may scratch. The fact that it coincides with him becoming the most capped English player brings with it a greater sense of ego-centric behaviour.
Of course, Cook isn’t the only cricketer to have made a call like this. India’s MS Dhoni put captaining a World Cup team in Australia above everything. So much so, he didn’t even meet his daughter until he returned from the tournament.
When asked whether he would rather have been in India he said: “Not really.”
“As of now I am on national duties so I think everything else can wait. The World Cup is a very important campaign.”
Well Mahendra, you think wrong.
At some future point in time, I guarantee that both Cook and Dhoni will regret the choices they have made in this regard.
The world of cricket doesn’t revolve around their presence like they both may wish to believe.