I happen to love my mother-in-law a ton. I know that most women can't say that, but I really do like her. That's not to say that she doesn't at times get on my nerves or break my heart. I don't think that she does it intentionally by any means, she's pretty much too nice for that. It doesn't make it hurt any less though.
Last night we went out for ice cream. It was my husband and I, my mother and father in law, and my sister in law with her husband and two kids. The two kids wanted to sit at a table with my husband and I and the other adults sat at another table close by. The ice cream came and everything was honky dory until my niece decided that all she wanted to do was play in her ice cream and not eat it. I even asked her if she was going to eat it or just play with it and she told me straight up that all she wanted to do was play with it. So after she had made a fairly significant mess, I started to take it away from her so that we could start cleaning it up. My mother-in-law immediately came over and told me to give it back to my niece because my niece "needed it." After about 5 seconds of having it back my mother-in-law got frustrated with my niece because she was playing with the ice cream and she took it away from her again. HELLO!!! I had just done the same thing! So now all she managed to do is teach my niece that I don't have any authority.
This is just one instance of many. When the kids were babies, if they started to cry and I tried to pick them up she would immediately take them away from me. If one of the kids gets hurt and I go to comfort them, she immediately pulls them away from me. I think that in her sub-conscious, if not in her clear conscious, she thinks that because I haven't given birth to any of my own children that I can't possibly contain an ounce of maternal instinct or know how. Forget the fact that my mom ran a day care center the entire time that I was growing up and I started helping her as soon as I was out of diapers myself. I have been witness to more first roles over, crawls, and steps that I can count. I have kissed a ton "owies" and wiped away more than my fair share of tears. I even used to help some of the older kids with their homework, and taught the younger ones their alphabet and how to read. But, obviously I have no idea how to help out with my nieces and nephews.
So, with that all said and done, I went to bed last night feeling pretty insufficient. I don't think that I will ever be able to take care of her son (my husband) exactly the way that she would prefer and I don't know if I will ever be able to give her a grandchild. Yes, she has plenty of grandchildren from her other kids but that doesn't seem to count. I know that the whole "taking care of her son" part is normal. It is great that she loves him so much that she cares whether I will look at his toes or not when he tells me that they hurt. So, I just have to remind myself that we both love the same man with all of our hearts...I guess that I just wish she would learn to love and accept me as well.