My mother-in-law doesn’t like me, and I never expected her to.
The very first day that she laid her eyes on me, was the day that I knew.
I was not what she’d wanted for her beloved son; she’d even said that I’d trapped him with juju.
She spoke on my husband’s exes, “Oh darling,” she crooned, “they were so much fairer than you. But your wide hips are great for birthing, so I guess you will have to do.”
I nodded, my lips set tight in what I’d hoped was a beam, the old African daughter-in-law song played in my head, tauntingly: Work, sister, work. Your husband gave your father twenty cows for you. Your mother-in-law can milk you dry if she wants to.
My mother-in-law doesn’t like me, and my husband finally sees it too.
She mispronounces my name intentionally and treats me like a fool.
“This is how you’re supposed to cook, this is how you’re supposed to clean, good Lord, didn’t your mother teach you anything? My son should have given your father donkeys instead of cows for you.”
“Work, sister, work,” I mumble as tears drip down my shirt.
Your mother-in-law can chew you up and spit you out, if she wants to.
My mother-in-law doesn’t like me, of this I’m very sure.
A good housewife is what she expects. To her I’m just too immature.
“My son, her job is to take care of the children and not chase after fantasies and dreams.
“What’s a therapist anyway? Is it her way of deriding me?
“You deserve better, heaven knows you settled for her.”
Work, sister, work. Your husband gave your father twenty cows for you.
You might think your mother-in-law is crazy, but a priest for exorcism, not a therapist, is what she needs.
My mother-in-law, has Alzheimer’s, guess what?
She’s moving in. She’s forgotten who her son is, her grandkids, and she’s even forgotten me. But oh no, don’t get your hopes up, she still does not like me.
Work, sister, work. Your husband gave your father twenty cows for you. Hold still now, she’s nearly done, wringing the milk out of you.
My mother-in-law didn’t like me, she held to that sentiment until her dying breath.
Her coffin lowers into the ground as her son, my husband, cries aloud.
I cry too, but these tears aren’t for her, they are for my son who stands beside me―the woman he married will never do.
She doesn’t cook or clean, good Lord, she dreams of being on TV!
My son deserves better, my mother-in-law would have seen it too.
Work, sister, work. My son should have paid two dollars for her.
I stop crying and start to laugh, my husband and son both gape at me
As I realise that this dead woman will forever haunt me.
“Mom/Darling?” they say at once as they hold me.
How can I tell them that though they’ve put her in the ground,
Mama has buried herself inside of me?