Ikigai (生き甲斐 allow me to copy and paste for authenticity) is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being.” Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Everyone. Take a minute and think about it. Finding it requires deep and often lengthy search of self, a lot of crying, and non-stop doddles with optional ramblings in a Moleskin notebook.
I’ve interpreted ikigai to be similar to my understanding of “your currency” – it’s “your thing” and every mama has one. In fact, I feel so passionate about it that I’ve dedicated a whole chapter of my forthcoming book about it. (And by “passionate,” I mean obsessive.)
So I write and talk (obsess) a lot about a mama’s currency. Like what gets her through the day… week and year. What keeps her ticking. And today I’m going kinda sophisticated with a self-quiz so you can discover your currency – your ikigai, you know, because that’s how I roll. Not really. I just realized my zipper has been open for at least an hour so I’m the farthest thing from together.
Discover your ikigai – what mama currency do you roll with?
1. When your kids are crying and throwing a fit do you:
A. Roll your eyes and scream back, “What is the big f-ing deal about pressing the elevator button?”
B. Immediately start hugging and rocking them despite a few kicks to the face. Love always win. Always. You’ll get your bruised eye looked at later.
C. Try and understand the situation before reacting. Breathe deeply as you urge them to breathe deeply and e-nun-ci-ate their w-o-r-d-s. You are cool, calm, and collected. You also do a lot of yoga. And maybe drink a-couple-too-many glasses of wine.
D. Perform a quick exorcism to scoot away the bad spirits that have taken over your two year old. You typically spend a lot of time in the woods and burn a lot of smudging sticks of wild sage – leading to investing in eyelash extensions more than once from all the candles you’ve lit to ‘cleanse’ your loved ones.
2. When they won’t eat anything remotely healthy and are demanding Cheerios and ice cream for the fifth consecutive dinner, do you?
A. Say, “No way, honey. Go to bed hungry.”
B. Prepare yet another bowl of Cheerios and add chocolate milk to ensure they love you and are happy because that’s what really matters. Add E-number-ridden sprinkles to the ice cream. Serve with a slightly scary smile.
C. Sit them down for a quick chat on nutrition and show them what a palm-size serving of protein looks like and what half a plate of vegetables means as you dish up quinoa and soy-bean vegan sausages with a raw medley of kale and other delightful cabbage varieties.
D. Grab that extra sage and see answer from question 1.
3. Something major happens. Let’s not go into scary details, mamas, but everyone has their private fears. Say one even almost happens.
A. Power through it with denial, OCD, anxiety meds, flying your mom in to help. Google until you collapse. Ring every expert known to man. Get twenty opinions and scream into a pillow or into your husband’s face. Externalize the pain.
B. Dig deep to creatively visualize it all resolving within minutes or possibly hours. See the pain as a big fluffy cloud of pink cotton candy to float on beaming and make zero sense when you talk to anyone.
C. Get 50 books, read all of them in one night, taking notes, come up with a Plan A, Plan B right down to little Plan Z. Drill holes in the wall to mount 20 whiteboards filled with scenarios. Embrace your role as the informed mama who will beat this thing to death with a whiteboard if necessary.
D. See answer from question 1.
Mainly As: You are Mama Tyson. Maybe tone down the volume there, but at least you are dishing it straight and your kids will realize that life isn’t always easy or handed to them on a platter. Tough love is your middle name.
Bs: You are Mother Theresa. Literally. You’re all about the hugs and keeping the peace even if it takes skipping work to hug it out and help them to achieve a mouthful of cavities and a case of scurvy. Think about your boundaries a little…
Cs: You are Mommy Logic. You don’t get it. There has to be a solution and you are going to be the one to figure it out. You’ve done all the reading so why can’t you take a bit from each of the greats (Gina Ford, Ferber, Supernanny) and mix them together to find your own path.
Ds: You are Mom of the Eternal Belief Systems with a hint of Maman Voodoo… I hope your eyebrows grow back soon, honey, there’s no judgment here but take it easy on the spells and potions. Kids believe in magic!
These four archetypes can’t possibly encompass the kaleidoscope and different moms there are out there but it can and does indeed bucket them. And I am all about the decorated buckets and pretty categories – it helps me think straight and manage things with more efficiency with a spoonful of magic. A definite D archetype at its best. So, what’s your ikigai? And which archetype are you?