For My Mother-in-Law
by Wilda Morris
In honor of Ruby Morris
Not the mother-in-law of old folk tales
who steals her granddaughters and grandsons,
who says her daughter-in-law ate them,
the kind of woman everyone should shun;
not the kind that sitcoms like to show,
the one set up as the story’s goat
who competes for her son’s attention
and wants his wife to remain remote;
not like the butt of mother-in-law jokes,
the common kind in which her son’s wife
wants to take revenge for many misdeeds,
the way she ferments unrelenting strife.
No, this time let’s be very clear about
a mother-in-law deserving of praise
like the woman of Proverbs 31,
clothed in strength and dignity always.
Throughout her years, filled with sorrows and joy,
she is more precious than jewels or gold,
grounded in faith and in hope and love,
she’s never a schemer, never a scold.
Instead, she’s a model from whom to learn.
Look at her and find what to invoke.
See what mothers-in-law can be–
rewrite the tale, the sit-com, and the joke.