I used to joke to B when my MIL was alive about the "Apple syndrome". More like "My son is the apple of my eye, center of my life, center of the universe syndrome". And to be fair to her, she only suffered the mildest version of it from all the other stories I have heard of other MIL's. It showed up mainly during meal preparation. Oh, B likes this, let's make it for him. B likes it in a particular way, so let's make it that way. She was gracious enough to also make things I like if I told her I liked it. But you could see that glint in her eyes when she made things her son liked. No matter who else did or didn't. Fair enough - she loved him to bits - she was welcome to indulge him. Just as long as I was not ignored. I can't remember the details of it, but I did get very upset one evening when both my MIL and FIL were staying with us (pre-baby days) and B's preferances were over indulged. I was not angry at her but was angry with B independent of it and so it really made me more sensitive to it. I didn't want to yell at B in front of them, so I just went out for a walk in the complex just before dinner time. B's mom asked B to go look for me and was worried as to why I went for a walk before dinner time. I recollect some of these incidents randomly now as I think about KB's preschool drama and how I have mixed feelings about the school.
I realize it is most easy to aquire the "Apple syndrome". You just have to give birth! The only difference is in how we let it manifest. You can either choose to make your child's happiness your prority because he/she is the apple of your eyes or you can ruin their happiness by hurting any one who doesn't treat your child the way you expect him/her to be treated. I feel annoyed with the preschool director for not accepting or even mentioning that part of the problem is that they do not have the bandwidth to deal with a child who cries louldy in the initial stages of adjustment. Instead she just says, "he is not ready for school". If it were left up to me, I would have just said, so be it, I will look for another school. But what matters to me is which school KB wants to go to. And each time we tour another school, he has fun but still says he wants to go to school W with Ms.T. And that's all matters. He seems happy to be there, so it is the school I will have to deal with even if I don't agree with what they say. I will mutter to myself my disagreement, but I will not jeopardize his happiness in that school by antagonizing the teacher or the preschool director there. At least unless it really gets to a point where I have to defend him for any other reason. I want to go with the faith that they do have his interest in mind and that it is best for him to deal with the separation issue at home if they are not able to handle it there.
There was another time a local friend of ours did something that I couldn't quite understand why. It was some trivial thing - inviting a bunch of kids to a little party she hosted but telling me about it soon after it was over - and mentioning all the other kids and their moms who had been invited and how it was all planned at the last minute - as if to say that is why she could not invite KB. It is one of those things that people do that hurts and you just cannot understand but you cannot also dig deep into for it will always leave an open strain on the relationship. At least pushed under the rug, it has hopes of getting forgotten. That was another instance when I told myself that I should not show to her that I was upset because if my relationship with her were to get strained then my kids would loose out on the friendship with her kids and vice versa. That was not worth it. I decided to just let it pass at that time even though I knew that she realized how it hurt me that she did that.
As a mother, no matter how young or old the child is, you want your child to be happy even if it means swallowing a bit of your pride or hurt feelings. I wonder how often or lasting this feeling will be. But I sure hope I am able to take these baby steps in my own growth toward a time when I will have to and will let go of KB and let him have his life...and know when to step in and when to stay away and grit and bear even if it hurts me just so he is happy.
I think back to how my MIL might have felt when I went for a walk because I was angry with B. Someone angry at her dear son who in her eyes did nothing wrong at that moment. Yet she asked B to go look for me in the complex and tell me to come and eat dinner...I suppose in caring for me, she was caring for the one she loved so dearly, her son. Once a mother, always a mother!