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I've been nursing a huge grudge against late night talk show hosts since Stephen Colbert announced that he was leaving his post last year. His departure opened up a heated debate about where the female late-night talk show hosts were. Other than Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee, all the hosts are all white guys. More than half of them have names that start with the letter "J." How homogenous and misogynist can you get?
But there's a ray of sunshine in Seth Meyers who recently won my heart.
Last week, he unexpectedly had to cancel a show because his wife went into labor two weeks early. Upon return to his post at the helm of "Late Night," Meyers gave a nine-minute speech about his experience of becoming a father.
In those nine minutes, I fell madly in love with Meyers and applaud him for taking air time to talk about his experience of his son's birth, and for describing both how surreal and sublime it was.
Meyers broke it all down for his audience. He detailed how he missed that his wife's regularly timed back cramps were actually contractions. He described the seasoned doorman who kept calm while putting Meyers and his laboring wife into an Uber. Graciously, Meyers gave shout-outs to that unsuspecting Uber driver, and also the doctors, the nurses and hospital staff. Of course, he also praised his wife Alexi Ashe, who arrived at the hospital already dilated to 10.
With hosts like Meyers opening the dialogue about the life-changing experience of becoming a parent, the way is being paved.
But Meyers went beyond mere recitation of his exciting birth story. He positively gushed about the whole experience, from Alexi's water breaking to filling out the paperwork. He admitted to sobbing and laughing when he held his son Ashe for the first time. His emotions were on full display: awe, joy, gratitude, hilarity. Generously, he also shared that his son's name, Ashe Olsen, was chosen to honor his wife, whose maiden name is Ashe, and his mother, whose maiden name is Olsen.
Awwww. Right? I can hardly stand how cute it is to watch Meyers get all schmoopy on national TV.
And putting aside my personal weakness for men who show their emotions, Meyers sharing his son's birth story on his show is good for families. It demonstrates to men that talking honestly and candidly about the profound experience of becoming a parent is their territory, too—even at work. Birth is not just something that deeply affects women; it also deeply affects men.
When was the last time a man at your office bared that much of his soul when he was talking about becoming a father?
The more that men in power are willing to open the conversation about becoming parents, the easier it gets for the rest of us—the women—in the workplace. Why? Because in my world, 100 percent of the supervisors are male. So when I need to take time off to take care of my kids, I will be 80 times as likely to speak up and ask for help from a supervisor if he has shown me how much being a parent means to him, that he values his children as much as I do.
Of course, my first choice is to have a female late night host who could share her experience of mothering, while also leading a talk show. But that's not on the menu. But with hosts like Meyers opening the dialogue about the life-changing experience of becoming a parent, the way is being paved. With those nine minutes, we are one step closer to the day when a woman will return to her seat and report to her audience: "So, my water broke, and then a baby came out of my vagina. It was such a trip."