The other night at dinner T said, “Gross. Motor. Skills.” out of the blue. Z and I looked at each other and tried to stifle our laughter. T verbal skills are incredible. Yesterday after preschool one of the student teachers told me that he corrected the pronunciation of another little boy. She said she was getting ready to correct the boy herself, and T just beat her to it. I’m totally bragging, but it’s true. He’s a talker. Like toddlers everywhere he’s a sponge. He is also taking everything that happens around him in and he is regurgitating it, no matter if he understands it or not.
After the urge to laugh passed at dinner I started to feel pretty worried. I know where he heard “gross motor skills”, it was from me. And the only time I say those words is when I’m explaining that his aren’t that great. Now, I am usually also saying his fine motor skills and verbal skills are off the hook. And they are. He loves to watch videos of himself we’ve uploaded to facebook and recently we were watching one from when he was 18 months old. Over the last 9 months his skills have gotten better and better. He speaks in sentences a lot of the time, he can start to drive a nail into wood without any help, I can talk all day about the wonderful stuff he does.
But the gross motor skills have been slower in coming. He only just started hopping, and frankly he it’s hard for him not to trip over his own sweet little feet. He is constantly covered in bumps and bruises. He had one hell of a lump on his forehead a few weeks ago and I started calling him my little unicorn. And all that stuff is perfectly ok. It is extraordinary that he is so ahead of the curve in two areas of development, and really he’s at the point where he should be enjoying life and I shouldn’t be thinking about where he is compared to other kids. He doesn’t need that kind of pressure. I don’t need it either.
That stuff isn’t the point of this post, though. I’m worried about him hearing me being critical of him to others, and I’m pretty ashamed of how often it happens. I’m casually unkind too frequently, and not just about him. It starts with my overwhelming insecurity, my compulsion to call out everything wrong with myself before others can notice it to quell the feeling I have that everyone in the world is pitying me behind my back. I know I’ve written about this before, and I understand it developed in my mind when I was extremely unwell. It just might be my least favorite part of my crazy. I’ve been able to realize it’s bullshit, largely because people aren’t spending scads of time contemplating me to begin with (hello self-absorption!).
I fall back on criticizing everything connected to me when I’m uncomfortable, so unfortunately social situations are when this behavior happens the most. I get hot, my tongue swells up and fills my whole mouth, and I just start pointing out my faults, T’s faults, Z’s faults because I think that they are all the person I’m talking to is seeing. And I desperately don’t want to be the fool. I don’t do this because I hate my kid or my husband, I do it because I struggle with hating myself. Of course, being unkind about my husband and kid makes me hate myself even more, I’m guaranteeing that my self hatred is justified.
For years Z has asked me to work on this when it comes to him. He is never unkind about me to others, he always has my back. One of the refrains from my breakdown was him saying, “I’m on your side.” He still says it and it is still true. But when I start to get uncomfortable my self control goes out the window. I didn’t give a shit when I was being mean to myself. When I started to understand I was being mean about Z there was progress. Yes, I was oblivious to my own assholicness until Z pointed it out to me. With T I’m realizing it simply needs to stop. It isn’t the example I want to set for him, it isn’t the baggage I want to thrust upon him that will need to be unpacked in therapy in a few decades, it isn’t who I want to be anymore. When people hear me criticize those I love I’m not showing them I know what is wrong in my life, I’m showing them I am a bitch. That realization was a real slap in the face. I don’t want to be an unkind person. I need to be better than that for T and for his brother. They deserve it.