On Saturday Rob Bell talked about this concept of “ikigai” – the Japanese word for what gets you out of bed in the morning. That thing that you’re passionate about and energizes you enough to take action. For him it’s the art of the sermon. It’s making things. Books, talks, podcasts, films, etc. He said he was a lazy sort of guy until he discovered sermons. Crafting a sermon, as an art, was interesting enough to get him out of bed.
And I thought…huh.
That’s not me. At all. I don’t need a reason to get out of bed. I have no shortage of reasons to get up in the morning. I have four children. What I need is a reason to stay *in* bed.
Just kidding. Sometimes.
I have never had a hard time doing things. I have no shortage of ideas of things to do and the energy to do them, normally. That has always been easy for me. Starting the day is fun. I love, love to go to bed at night and I love getting up in the morning. I like to sleep until the last possible second, and then jump up and hit the ground running. It’s not always what happens, but when I’m in control of my own sleep, that’s what I do.
I don’t need an ikigai. I have plenty of that.
What I need is some sort of magnet that pulls my existence out of melting into everyone else’s and back into it’s own shape. Some sort of formula for perfect balance in life. Man that sounds magical. I need the thing that gives me permission to have my identity exist within my own self instead of just as a result of what my family needs from me.
I don’t need it all the time, there are lots of times when I handle that just fine. But other times – it seems the only way to do this parenting gig is to put myself on hold. It usually feels temporary. Just until everyone’s in school. Or through the spring. Or for today. The problem is it never ends.
I need the permission slip that lets me not fix a problem that is in my power to fix. The slip that lets me let other people do the fixing.
Something that takes me out of the 2D existence that my children see me as (what they need when they need it) and pops me back into the 3D version of myself within my own personality and my own needs. The me that is more than caregiver.
It’s not my kid’s fault. They can’t see me as anything until I am it.
The Thursday and Friday before this all day Saturday event, my kids were giving me a hard time about going. Saturday was packed full of their sports games and I was going to miss them all. My daughter jokingly asked me why this event was more important than them. And then her joke turned serious and she really started to think that.
My reaction was less than ideal. It made me a teeny tiny bit furious. I told her, as the champion parent that I am, that I couldn’t answer that right now cause it just made me too mad.
Wow. Good one.
And then my son asked me the same thing on Friday. He was already upset about something else and he threw that on top as a sort of feeling sorry for himself attack at me.
Again it pissed me off. And I had no words to explain why. I’m not sure I knew why exactly. Looking back I know I was annoyed that they were selfish enough to expect me to have nothing of my own going on. That made me mad. And I was annoyed that they’d play this card – the you don’t love me card. And I was hurt that they didn’t want me to have this thing that I clearly wanted. I felt like they wanted to take it from me.
Looking back I could have said all kinds of helpful things that would help them understand the beauties and realities of life beyond themselves. But I didn’t. I just stewed and felt sorry for myself.
I always say I don’t do guilt. I feel a little bit of pride every time I recognize an interaction as a guilt attempt and I can laugh it off with a “No thanks to that”. But I missed it this time. They guilted me and I fell for it. And instead of changing my actions as guilters want you to, I just got angry.
I didn’t realize it until halfway through the event, when Rob was talking about this ikigai concept and I was thinking that’s not what at all what I need and following that thought trail that it occurred to me that my kids could never see me as anything more than 2D unless I actually was. Unless that’s the me I showed them. I have to teach them these things, to put effort into changing their understanding of me.
They only think I’m 2D because that’s what I’ve taught them. Someone said that people treat you exactly as you teach them to. (Was that Dr. Phil? Oh my word.) If I want my kiddos to treat me differently, to understand that my love for them is not conditional on attendance at their events, I have to actually teach them that. I can’t just get mad & hurt and not know what to say. I have to actually engage those emotions, figure them out and teach them what I want them to know. And then I have to be what I want them to see me as.
What’s the Japanese word for that?
Also: This mom trying on chewbacca mask is hilarious. Watch past the first minute or so. Wait until she starts laughing. She’s just so dang happy it makes you happy.