[et_pb_section fb_built="1" _builder_version="3.0.47"][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.0.47" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.0.47" parallax="off" parallax_method="on"][et_pb_image src="http://www.brendashiekh.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Plate-Spinning-1.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.92" max_width="75%"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.92"]People often ask me how I homeschool, find the time to build my business, attempt to develop a speaking career and a podcast, cook for the family, stay fit, and not kill my husband in his sleep with a Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaner extension cord wrapped tightly around his throat (something I’ve clearly never thought about). I also get a lot of questions from moms who want to know how I manage eleven kids while they have three and they want to jump off a bridge (and I certainly don’t show them the map of all the bridges I’ve researched). So, this blog is dedicated to all those moms who want a little reveal on how I approach balance in life, so that I keep my motivation, and find joy and satisfaction, while spinning a million children’s square plastic melamine plates in the air all at the same time. My first child came when I was just twenty two years old, and I could barely manage having just one. When I went to work, I missed her, but every time I spent more than ten minutes with her, I wanted to go back to work. I always felt guilty. I dressed cute. Ate terribly, and my priorities were totally upside down. I tried to pretend that I had it all together, but I never felt like it. Worst of all, I blamed every personal failure on circumstances or other people, and I rarely took personal responsibility. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="http://www.brendashiekh.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Plate-Spinning-2.jpg" title_text="My daughter and I on her second birthday, San Francisco, California." align="center" _builder_version="3.0.92" max_width="50%"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.92"]
My daughter and I on her second birthday, San Francisco, California.
It wasn’t until fifteen years later when I was knee deep in a batch of ten infants, embroiled in a lawsuit over my son’s disability, and intentionally sleeping in a different room in the house than my husband’s, that I recognized I was playing professional league adulthood with the skill set of a water boy. If I’m honest, it was probably the only wake up call loud enough for me to realize that life isn’t meant to be played as a critic on the sidelines. Apparently, it was meant to be played in a master bedroom turned nursery, changing diapers on twenty eight minutes of sleep.
My world was demanding more than I could possibly give. The more I tried to show up and be EVERYTHING for my family, the worse my performance was. I was drowning. And remember, this happened around the same time as the infamous Octo-Mom, so I felt like everyone around me was waiting for me to fall-apart, get lip injections, and eventually fall into the adult film industry. I got so defensive I remember someone said it looked like I could use some help I was like “Why? Because my cart is full of diapers and you’re assuming I have too many kids and I can’t handle it because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for days, and I’m just doing all this for attention? And the girl was like, “No, my manager makes me ask every customer if they want help to their car with their groceries.” I knew then I needed help. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="http://www.brendashiekh.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Plate-Spinning-3.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.92"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.92"]
A six seater stroller I bought from a day care in 2010.
I wound up in a chiropractor’s office, of all places, who after a short time working with me sent me on a path I would have never imagined. It made all the difference. She would listen to my complaints and look for anything I would say that would lift my spirits for even just a moment. She would make note of it and then prescribe that I look into a class or a course on whatever that was. It didn’t make any sense to me. I would talk about needing a night time nanny and she would talk about how I needed an improv class. Every time I suggested a parenting course, she would say “Hmm, I’m thinking more like that screenplay would be a good project to start.” It was so confusing and I would try to argue, but I was so personally defeated that I just did whatever she told me to do. And I mean every suggestion from yoga, to stand up comedy, to a creative writing class. All of this within the first five years of being slammed with an unexpected jackpot of infants.
People thought I was nuts trying to develop my creative self at such a late stage and so poorly timed moment in my life. I should have been doing it all those years I didn’t have so many children. Certainly true, but I wasn’t even aware of what I was capable of as a person until the diapers hit the fan. It was in the most unlikely artist discovery course that one random exercise solidified the value of everything she was asking me to undertake. This exercise required us to take all the major parts of our lives and separate them evenly out on a pie chart. My pie chart was all one color, baby blue, with one category, infants. I had to draw in some categories I had never in my life considered relevant, let alone equal to family or career.
I started cultivating parts of my life I had been ignoring, like community service, writing, travel, making friends, and brushing my hair. Out of pouring into new areas of my life grew the harmony, balance and forward motion I was looking for so desperately in my family life. Taking these classes for me gave me the spark and the energy to tackle what felt impossible at home. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="http://www.brendashiekh.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Plate-Spinning-4.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.92"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.92"]
We traveled through China for nearly a year. The boys learned Mandarin, Viktor got stem-cell therapy, and I wrote my first screenplay. It was a massive year of growth for all of us. See the video in my Blast from the Past page.
I live by the idea that whenever people are not paying attention to what makes them happy and and engaged in life, life will find a way to get their attention. It certainly got mine. I don’t look at difficult circumstances the same way as a result. They are there to beckon me to jump off the sidelines and stop trying to merely survive the game of life from the nosebleed section while playing Monday morning quarterback. Of course you’re going to lose some, but the important thing is to always play ball. What lights you up? [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="http://www.brendashiekh.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Plate-Spinning-5.jpg" align="center" _builder_version="3.0.92" max_width="50%"][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]