Tom Brady’s Twitter bio is a simple, all-American creed: “Family and Football.” A supermodel wife, three perfect children, and a career built on white-enabled upward mobility and knocking noggins for millions. Brady is the embodiment of another sage’s prolific words: “Get your fucking ass up and work.” Although that whole “family” thing seems to be increasingly taking a backseat to his “work,” also known as our nation’s most damning sporting league. So I’m suggesting a humble edit for Mr. Bündchen’s Twitter branding: “Football and Stringing Along My Wife.”
After 22 seasons, the 44-year-old quarterback—who keeps dropping athleisure brands, when all I want is his anti-aging elixir—announced that he was retiring from football earlier this year to spend more time with his family. One month later, the man who skipped the Patriots’ visit to the Trump White House not because he’s a radicalized Donald Trump critic, but because he was hanging out with his mom, announced that just kidding, he was not retiring and would be returning for one final season with the Buccaneers. And just when Gisele thought she could see the light at the end of the gaslighting, Fox Sports announced today that whenever he does decide to retire, he’ll be joining the network as a lead analyst. “It will be a stellar and exciting television career,” Lachlan Murdoch said on an earnings call. Wait, a career? ANOTHER career???
Given that Mother’s Day was a mere two days ago, I’ve drafted a belated card from the dad-of-the-year: “Dear Gisele, Happy Mother’s Day! I know there are other things you’d like to accomplish in your life aside from holding down the fort and uprooting everything to follow me around while I toss pigskins. That will have to wait a bit longer. You can continue being the primary caregiver and emotional laborer for our children for another 10 years, while I giggle with conservative-adjacent anchors on television for money, despite us having more than enough money to retire early. What can I say, I’m a wealth-hoarder, honey!!! Love, Tom.”
Gisele, of course, has also built an empire in her own right and is technically richer than her husband. But anyone who thinks a decorated quarterback’s job is harder than motherhood should immediately schedule an appointment with a neurologist. As Jia Tolentino writes in the New Yorker, “a person can get paid more to sit in front of her computer and send a bunch of e-mails than she can to do a job so crucial and difficult that it seems objectively holy: to clean excrement off a body, to hold a person while they are crying, to cherish them because of and not despite their vulnerability.”
Motherhood is labor-intensive, grueling, and unpaid labor at that—and Gisele’s been doing it pretty much alone since the birth of their first child. Tom appears so inept and fundamentally averse to child-rearing that he literally spent a couple of weeks home with the kids, said, “Fuck this, I’m out,” and ran screaming back to the NFL where he continues playing catch. Tom’s deliverables? Get the ball in the hands of an open receiver, and score. Gisele’s? Raise kind, compassionate, and creative kids while fueling them with healthy foods they will surely throw tantrums over, all while having to explain why daddy’s gone so much. And that’s the SparkNotes version. You do not want me to get into the specifics of one day teaching them how to use tampons and then having to explain why tampons aren’t a state-sponsored, free public good or why the government is rolling back women’s rights to their own bodily autonomy.
Look, I know there’s probably an underpaid nanny or two waltzing around the Bündchen mansion. To say Gisele has been mothering entirely alone is indeed dramatic, and I wouldn’t be so stupid as to suggest that a near-billionaire and the vision of ideal commercialized femininity is struggling more than low-income mothers who can’t afford childcare in the first place. But what are celebrities if not billboards for us to project our campaigns for women’s labor rights onto?
Anyways, I hope Tom at least sent Gisele a gift card for a massage. (Or bought her a massage parlor.) She’s certainly going to need it for all the wincing she’s eventually going to be undertaking as she attempts to stomach the sound of her husband blaring out of the television, trying to sound relatable, and talking to anyone but his own kids.