Monday, April 19, 2010


Sharon Olds in her poem My Son the Man is facing the inevitable. Being a mother is not just seeing a son grow up. It is also to accept his growth sideways, his breaking free from she who gave life.

“.......It seems
no time since I would help him put on his sleeper,
guide his calves into the gold interior,
zip him up and toss him up and
catch his weight.......”

As mothers we give birth. We nurse. With our bodies, hearts and minds we delve into the pool of parenthood. We stay by that water, faithfully, drinking it, swimming it, or merely touching it with our hands. Sometimes when drinking, we choke. Sometimes when swimming, the easy and elegant breast stroke is no more than the survivor’s splashing of arms and legs.

Then one day the very center of this activity is gone. What was once the soft, the fleshy, the cuddly small body, is now the tall, the wide, the bony. The boy has become The man.

I can see him, how has grown. Evolved. Where I once had to bend down and kiss the top of his scalp, I now have to tip toe to reach his cheek.

Then I look into that mirror. The girl - have I noticed how she has grown?


  1. Sharon Olds is one of my favorites.

    It is the greatest thing I have done, to be a parent. I do it with a pain in my belly, for the fleetingness of it and the vast expanse to do it badly. Every day I try. Every day there are successes and failures. Every day I kiss the tops of their heads. One day it will be their cheeks. It marks our passing, their rising does. It is a sundial.


  2. My only son turned 30 this year, and he's been out and on his own for 10 years. But every time I see him, I look past the 6'2" exterior right down to the small boy he once was.

  3. I raised my 2 girls to be successful, intelligent, happy, independent adults. I suceeded beyond my wildest dreams. And every day I miss being needed the way a small child needs a Mommy. It's a conundrum, an enigma. They're both teachers with families of their own and they're both working toward their PhD.'s. (I'm a college drop out.) My youngest called me with her reading list for a class and I not only had read every single book, but owned them all. Of course, I boxed them up and 'loaned' them to her. It's a shame they don't have a test and then give PhD.'s for life experiece.

    Great post, Grete. Sharon Olds just did not write one bad poem. :-) Blessings!

  4. Kjære Grete!

    I want you to know that I love your voice. It has been a true gift to follow it blossom, from the time of us doing writing exercises together by the seaside, in the forest or at cafés in Oslo years ago. Your voice is ripe now. A maroon rose, with the scent of honey and the sound of deep throatsong, full of overtones and authority. Every day I look for a new post in your blog. And the pictures! Wow. Nobody knows.....who your words and images touches, where it takes you.... Nobody knows. Or maybe someone does? Thank you for doing this!!!!!
    Love Anne-Kari

  5. Erin -

    Sharon Olds. Yes, who can, as she, combine that striking visual image with the edgy, the touchy, the uncomfortable? Who can, as she, make the smallest tell the story of the whole?

    I am just now reading her collection One Secret Thing.
    Below the heading War, is the poem

    When He Came for the Family.

    They looked at their daughter standing with her music
    in her hand, the page covered with dots and
    lines, with its shared language. They knew
    families had been taken. What they did not know
    was the way he would pick her cello up
    by the scroll neck and take its amber
    torso-shape and lift it and break it
    against the fireplace. The brickwork crushed the
    close-grained satiny wood, they stood and
    stared at him.

    Let this be the headline of tomorrows newspaper. Let this be the letter to generals and statesmen. Let this be what I tell my children, my grandchildren.

    Let this be what I teach myself.

    Becca -

    Those sweet memories, deposits into our own private bank. More worth than gold and diamonds!

    Marion -

    To succeed beyond our wildest dreams, what gift indeed! Yes, that longing for their sweet little voices calling our names! And this should certainly be the new - a PhD in life experience. We would certainly have a mighty army of professors around!

    Anne-Kari -

    What can I say to these your most generous words? I bow my head. You are part of who I am. You make my heart sing......