Da jeg skulle velge en forfatter og en tekst som skulle symbolisere dagen i dag, 8. mars, var det den amerikanske forfatteren Tillie Olsen (1912-2007) som først dukket opp i bevisstheten. Enkelt, med få ord og virkemidler, formidler hun tanker og sorg rundt omsorgen for sin førstefødte datter i historien «I stand here ironing», fra samlingen fortellinger Tell Me A Riddle, 1960. Det er i år 100 år siden Tillie Olsen ble født, nok en grunn til å vise til hennes fortellinger.
«I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and fort with the iron.
«I wish you would manage the time to come in and talk with me about your daughter. I’m sure you can help me understand her. She’s a youngster who needs help and whom I’m deeply interested in helping.»
«Who need help …» Even if I came, what good would it do? You think because I am her mother I have a key, or that in some way you could use me as a key? She has lived for nineteen years. There is all that life that has happened outside of me, beyond me.
And when is there time to remember, to sift, to weigh, to estimate, to total? I will start and there will be an interruption and I will have to gather it all together again. Or I will become engulfed with all I did og did not do, with what should have been and what cannot be helped.
She was a beautiful baby. The first and only one of our five that was beautiful at birth. You do not guess how …
… new and uneasy her tenancy in her now-loveliness. You did not know her all those years she was thought homely, or see her poring over her baby pictures, making me tell her over and over again how beautiful she had been – and would be, I would tell her – and was now, to the seeing eye. But the seeing eyes were few or non-existent. Including mine.
I nursed her. They feel that’s important nowadays. I nursed all the children, but with her, with all the fierce rigidity of first motherhood, I did like the books then said. Though her cries battered me to trembling and my breasts ached with swollenness, I waited till the clock decreed.
Why do I put that first? I do not know if it matters, or if it explains anything.
She was a beautiful baby. She blew shining bubbles of sound. She loved motion, loved light, loved colour and music and textures. …»