"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
April 23, 2015
The Mother-in-Law's Wish List
by Hannah Bird

I am the definition of a Molly Mormon. I have six kids. I am a stay-at-home mom. We have cows. I drive a giant vehicle. I wear dresses almost every day. I know how to can, make bread, and even sew. In much the same way that a shark is a fish, I am a Molly Mormon.

Except when I am not. Which is every day. I do not have a Primary voice. I am not well-behaved. My kitchen and I have hated each other for many years. I am not a gifted cook ó passable, on occasion, but never gifted. My children are wild and feral and terrifying. As am I, should you choose to annoy me.

But if Iím not Molly, Iím starting to wonder who is. If a chubby housewife in Idaho isnít Molly, she may not exist.

The scriptures talk about Molly. Proverbs 31 lists her many attributes without giving her name. This ideal woman is hard-working. Thatís always impressive, but this lady is eager to work more. She provides for her family and arranges grand business projects in varied lands. She also tends perfectly to her home. She gets up early. She goes to bed late. She invests in real estate and starts a vineyard as a side interest.†

But she is not some slacker that just works endlessly. She also has hobbies. She embroiders. She makes lovely things. Her family is clothed perfectly by her efforts. She has enough excess to sell, thereby making more money.

All this, and still she is wise and good. She gives advice. Her husband trusts her implicitly. She contributes to his being respected in the community. And†she takes care of the sick and afflicted.†

Her kids donít talk back. They rise up and call her blessed.

Yesterday I told my daughter to find her spelling book, and she fell to the ground holding her leg and screaming, ďIím hit. Go on without me.Ē My children have risen up and called me things, but I donít remember ďblessedĒ being one of them.†

I go to bed late. But I am not being industrious. I am writing things no one will ever read while thinking about how I should really get a job at a gas station. I want to get up early. But my body and I donít have that as a shared priority.†

I have managed to keep the miracle aloe plant alive due to a careful regimen of doing nothing. But I have already managed to kill my Valentineís Day orchid, and I loved that thing. I do often consider my neighborís field but that is because it is spring, and our young bull is feeling a little spry. Keeping him in a fence is a full-time job.

Itís OK because we will sell that bull for pennies on the dollar and then wonder why our accountant tears up when he sees us. I will not plant a vineyard. That is just the beginning of my life turning into a Steinbeck novel.

I do have hobbies, but they mostly involve people leaving me alone. I do not make lovely things. Unless you consider snappy comebacks an art form. If someone asks me for advice, I generally counter with, ďWhat is wrong with you?Ē

After twenty-four years of putting up with my nonsense, my husband does trust me but is often a little skeptical of my methods. And my reasons. And the outcome. And my explanations of the aforementioned. I have managed to keep the wonder alive in our marriage by making him wonder what is going on all the time.†

This is the problem with Molly. And Sister Thirty-One. We list their attributes in hopes of reaching them. But what we reach is the conclusion that we fall devastatingly short.

I am going to let you in on a dirty little secret. Sister Thirty One doesnít exist. She never did. I know she got a chapter in the Bible. But she was a mythical woman that appeared only in advice a mother gave to her son, King Lemuel, about what to look for in a woman.†

Yep. Itís a mother-in-lawís wish list.†

Given the context, I am surprised the list doesnít include never making a fuss about where to go for holidays and using the mother-in-lawís family name for any children who will absolutely be spending Christmas mornings at Grammy Lís and I donít want to hear another word about it.†

The list makes a lot more sense read with a historical view.† I am not a mother-in-law yet. But I have lofty visions. I want wonderful things for my kids. I will be smart enough to keep whatever list makes itself up in my head to myself. I would feel awful if I wrote it all down and it ended up traumatizing women for a few millennia.†

Thatís the thing with context. The things we feel so badly about often fall away with a little scrutiny. We donít need to try to be a Proverbs 31 woman. We can skip emulating Molly. We can set down all the guilt and grief that goes with those wrongheaded aspirations. Burned dinners and a lack of embroidery are not indicators of our value.

We are called to be followers of Christ. He invites us first to love God. And then, our neighbors. This is the standard. We will not be perfect in this goal either. But our flailing reaches will be in the right direction. We will be following a perfect example, in the correct context.†

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About Hannah Bird

I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.

I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.

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