At graduation, one of the student speakers discussed how she used Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes TED Talk as inspiration for her senior year. Being a TED Ed Club Advisor, I thought this might be a great TED Talk to inspire my club members and maybe turn her profound message into one of our community impact projects for this year. The TED Talk was excellent so I borrowed her audiobook from the library and have been listening to it in the car. In the book, she plays her Dartmouth commencement speech, which I am sharing below. FYI, she has a potty mouth.
So, something she says in the book has really stuck with me as it is something we discuss often at both home and school. Obviously, I work with a lot of women (all of whom are working moms) and I am married to a working mom. Shonda talks about how the only way she can be a successful with her work and her family is because of the extra help she gets from her nanny. Several people have looked at what I do at work and the pictures I post of my family on Instagram and Facebook and comment about how I am this amazing dad for being able to pull off these amazing things in every part of my life. Here’s my secret:
It’s all an act.
Obviously, I can’t filter what my colleagues see happening at work, but I can filter what ends up on social media. When I am at home, I only take pictures of the amazing things and post those to my feed. Do you think anyone really wants to see the pile of dirty clothes that I have been ignoring or the dust collecting on the mantel because dusting is one of my 3 least favorite chores? I look amazing because of 2 reasons: 1) I only show the good stuff, and 2) I have an amazing support system.
My wife is my rock. The reason I can go to my classroom and make it the #roomofawesome is because she takes the crazy #Seigelboys off my hands for a few hours and lets me do it. Also, luckily, she never questions the hundreds of dollars I spend on my classroom and students every year. But, I support her as well. This weekend she is doing about 20 hours of yoga instructor training which means it is 3 straight days of single dad time. She’s been doing this once a month for the past 6 months (with 4 more months to go).
At work, I have fantastic colleagues and administrators who have accepted the fact that I am “that Crazy Seigel guy” and never question the random ideas that come out of my mouth. If my classroom gets too loud, they never come over and slam my door or ask me to keep it down. They let me do my thing because they know I have my students’ best interests at heart.
But I am not successful at both things at the same time. Today I was a great teacher and an absent father. My family went to Six Flags and I ignored them completely, even leaving the house to hit Lowes’ before anyone was awake so I could paint my classroom. When my wife has a yoga training during the school year, I am not going to think about my classroom or my students and I am going to focus on my sons. If I try to split my time evenly, I am failing at 2 things instead of one.
What’s the answer to all of this? Pick your battles. That stack of labs can wait 2 hours while I cook dinner, play Poop, and read books to the boys. When it’s family time, it isn’t school time. When it is grade papers time, well, that usually means it is plop the boys in front of a movie time.
It’s not easy being a Parental Educator in today’s world. It takes a lot of people to help you be the successful person that you make everyone on social media think you are. And, on a side note, never forget to stop and thank those people from time to time.