This Passover, I’d like to break free of diapers. My kids turn three in a week, and I think that’s a respectable time to make an exodus from the land of the poop sacks, and toward freedom and what will likely be months of accidents. Either way, let my children potty train! Next year in underwear! Amen.
Kindergarten. I can’t believe I used the word “kindergarten.” Ugh. Everyone else said “Gan Nitzan,” but I had to go and say “kindergarten.” They must think I’m an idiot. I’m never going to fit in here.
That’s what was going through my mind several minutes into introductions at the New Parent Orientation at the Jewish Day School my daughter will be attending next fall. There’s no question in my mind that no one else even noticed that I said kindergarten, or if they did, they didn’t think twice about it. (Or, if they did think twice about it, they’re probably just as crazy as I am, and we should hang out more.)
Some version of those thoughts have been going through my mind ever since I first set foot in a synagogue for my cousin’s bar mitzvah. (Although at that point, it was more like, “Oh. I think I opened this book backwards. Huh. Who knew? Apparently everyone in the room except me. I seriously do not belong here.”)
“I don’t belong” has been a consistent theme throughout my life, but it kicked into high gear when I decided to get involved in Judaism in a serious, consistent way. It’s been nearly two decades, and I’ve spent much of that time trying to work my way into a sense of belonging. I’ve gone to the mikveh, I’ve had an adult bat mitzvah, and I’ve taken numerous adult education courses and Hebrew classes. The learning was important and I enjoyed every moment of it, but belonging isn’t about what you know. It’s about owning who you are.
And so I have found my exodus: a journey away from the endless doubting and hustling and hyper-focus on what I know and what I don’t know and towards the freedom of accepting who I am and the gifts I have to offer, regardless of whether or not I can pronounce that Hebrew word or remember the holiday that comes after Passover. (For the record, my day school graduate husband couldn’t remember it either. HA!) It’s not going to happen right away, but the more I can turn down the volume on the part of my brain that says I don’t belong, and the more I can tune into the still, small voice inside me that knows it’s not true, the closer I’ll get to my own Promised Land, instead of staying focused on someone else’s.
What’s your exodus this year? Let us know tweeting @Kveller with #WhatsYourExodus.