August 21, 2014 by Katia
When I was a child I really believed that the grownups in my life knew everything. Now I suspect that it’s the other way around.
“Our children are put on this earth to teach us,” said my best friend. Not being the type for clichés, she immediately added “and to keep our egos under control.” We were having a long distance transatlantic heart to heart and she was bottom lining it. We had just finished discussing being unintentionally “called out” by our kids on different accounts. That’s when my friend delivered her bottom line reframing our kids as life coaches.
As grownups our overly saturated brains are set to “sift through” rather than “absorb” mode and there is so much that we tend to overlook, like the fact that our kids may be the closest people to us on earth, but that doesn’t make them privy to our inner dialogue. Oblivious to our denial, they will matter of factly deliver the most self-esteem crushing blows when they call out the wrinkles on our forehead during a game of “I Spy” and walk away blissfully unaware, leaving us to handle that truth bomb all on our own. So we do it humbled, feeling heavier and lighter at the same time for facing the truth. For standing corrected.
Tikkun* is the Hebrew word for correction. It’s also a Kabbalistic term implying repair work to be done on one’s own soul. That repair work, it is believed, is the reason for our existence. Having been born and spent most of my life in Israel, Tikkun was a term that came up quite often in conversation. It would be mentioned just as casually as my five-year-old’s accidentally delivered truths: “This thing I hate just happened to me yet again. It must be my Tikkun”. Tikkun, as in the repair of one’s soul through challenge, through confronting and doing what doesn’t come naturally, through — to put it in post new age terms — stepping outside of your comfort zone.
My soul has been under construction for a few years now. There is possibly too much repair work to be completed in just one life time. Do we start by strengthening those loosely hanging Will Power beams or shall we tackle the poorly laid Assertiveness foundation first? But wait, what about the Pursuit of Unwritten Rules termites and Fear of Self Imposing asbestos? I wouldn’t know where to begin. Thankfully, life always takes the first step when it comes to tackling your Tikkun.
I embarked upon my journey to self-correction unintentionally. Ironically, I was on my way to fix someone and something else, my unborn children’s future, by moving countries. The next thing I knew, I was diving headlong into my Tikkun. Immigration seemed to awaken one of my biggest hang-ups, the pursuit of unwritten rules. I’ve lived a life of spinning my wheels in attempt to identify the “right” way to do things, believing that there’s always A Rule which everyone but me is aware of and adhering to. During the first months of immigration my brain was a fuming volcano, constantly put to the task of identifying The Rule according to which Canadians all around me were behaving and trying to align myself with it. Confronting so many new and unknown rules at once almost broke my brain and spirit, but it was the very same thing that brought about the correction. Repair began taking place and I’d started realizing there wasn’t always a single one-size-fits-all Rule.
Then came the kids and the three of us formed a peculiar combat force where driven by the soldiers’ needs the commander charges into battle against her own crippling fear of self imposing by making small talk on the playground, initiating play dates, putting herself out there for rejection and occasionally getting rejected. When it didn’t work out, I’d feel embarrassed, avert my eyes whenever I saw THAT mom across the street, pretend not to notice her, chase the thought of failure away whenever it struck me.
After having your first child you often find yourself in chasing mode. You chase after answers on endless developmental milestones, chase after sleep, chase your kid and chase after socialization opportunities for you and them. You chase after their future. After what feels simultaneously like forever and a single moment comes a magical tipping point when you’re able to cautiously, selectively sit back and observe while all of a sudden time makes things fall into place. You realize that sleep is an ever shifting pendulum and that your kids have friends you didn’t have to hunt for yourself. That’s when THAT mommy who didn’t call you back stops being so important and you start greeting her on the street, realizing that she has a lot on her plate, that mommy, or maybe she’s just not that into you and it’s okay. You’ve stepped up to the challenge and tried. And another wrinkle is then removed from your soul.
My children and immigration are forever interconnected as reason and outcome. To me, they are two parts of the same entity, challenging me in very similar ways, both requiring total immersion of myself into a completely foreign unexplored territory. Both inviting and expediting repair. You already know that life takes the first step when it comes to achieving your Tikkun by sending us signs, but you also know that as grownups we often don’t notice. We frequently talk about the many hats we get to wear as parents and the many new roles we assume. But what about our kids? Theirs are no less important. Would my Tikkun happen if it wasn’t for them? Probably not. After all, it’s so hard to find good life coaches and repair agents these days.
- Pronounced Tee-koon.
This was a Finish The Sentence Friday post on the topic “When I was a child, I really believed…”. Please visit our hosts, two wonderful women that I’m proud to call my friends:
Kristi at Finding Ninee
Stephanie at Mommy for Real