2012-03-21 15:26



她年轻时的梦想是长途旅行、精致的晚宴和一个全世界最隐秘的书房——当然,no kids。然而,随着岁月的推移,她的想法渐渐在改变。如今,和她的孩子一起生活一起工作,变成了她人生中最幸福的事。


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By Diana Abu-Jabar

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My mother and father were young, enthusiastic[1] parents. They had just entered their 20s when I was born. Children defined their new marriage and their lives as adults. Their daughters were their joy and legacy, the center of attention. Limited resources necessitated difficult choices: My sisters and I shared beds, we had a black-and-white TV in an age of color, and restaurants were a wild extravagance.[2] Both my parents worked and worked at jobs they found unfulfilling and, when they were home, seemed to nap constantly.[3]

I wanted something different. Namely, a satisfying career―and the freedom to move and to take risks, to be unencumbered[4]. I dreamed of distant travel, elaborate dinner parties, and the world’s most secluded study.[5] Kids didn’t seem compatible with these goals[6].

Many of my literary heroes had no children: Katherine Mansfield, Edith Wharton, Eudora Welty.[7] Virginia Woolf was childless, and her famous declaration on the importance of a room of one’s own made me feel she was even rather chilly toward houseguests. From these authors, I gleaned that the pursuit of one’s passion subsumed all of one’s energies, leaving little behind.[8]

At age 30, my efforts paid off when I learned my first book was going to be published. I burst into tears; it was a happiness unlike any I had known. Not long after, a male colleague at a dinner party warned that, if I wanted to have a child, there wasn’t “time to spare.” But I did have time. I didn’t want children. And I married a man who felt the same way. Instead, I taught and wrote. My husband and I held dinner parties and traveled, trying out those early dreams.

But as my sisters began to have kids and I greeted my new nieces and nephews, something shifted. I believed that being an aunt would be the perfect fit―all glory, no guts[9]. It was lovely to have children to spoil without having to worry about the daily realities of parenting. But to my surprise, aunthood brought its own sort of discontent―a subtle, quiet appetite for more. After public readings, I was frequently asked if I had children―for no reason that I could discern other than my being female. One day a woman in the audience blurted, “Diana’s books are her children!” I knew she was trying to be helpful, but I felt a twinge of discomfort.[10] I wasn’t sure I wanted my books to be my children.

I started registering clear signs of ambivalence.[11] My husband and I acquired Yogi, a little Italian greyhound[12]. And I promptly developed a telling habit of flipping Yogi on her back in my arms while cooing, “Be the baby.”[13] She helplessly let me cradle her while my husband rolled his eyes.

I turned to books for guidance. I read in a biography of Julia Child[14] that, despite a life of fame and excitement, she may have regretted not having children. I felt those words reverberate[15] in me. Still, I was in my 40s by that point. There were risks associated with late childbearing, of course. What felt more daring still was challenging my own idea of who I was: I had never thought of myself as a mother, and it seemed a little late to make such a drastic change to my identity.

But, I realized I had changed already; it had happened so gradually I almost hadn’t noticed. My work had given me great satisfaction, but there were parts of me that it didn’t reach. I didn’t want only the solitude of work. I yearned for more joy, more clamor, more life in my life.

My husband and I began to discuss the possibility of having children. He had found, to his surprise, that he enjoyed being an uncle, discovering the pleasures of play and making merry. He allowed that he too had felt a deeper pull to create a family.

For me, the transformative moment came, oddly enough, through my work: I had been writing a memoir that was, in part, a wish to understand my life without children.[16] But one morning I started working on a novel about a woman who had grown up without any biological family, who stands starkly[17] alone in the mystery of her own identity. While researching the book, I started chatting with a mother and her eight-year-old daughter in a café. It came up in conversation that the daughter was adopted. After showing me her crayoned drawings, the girl turned to her mother and very delicately wrapped one arm around the woman’s neck. I watched, bewitched[18]. And I walked away with a new dream, feeling all but certain that I wanted to adopt my own child.

I was terrified: The more important the decision, the more frightening it is. I collected quotes on taking risks. When we began the adoption application process, I cut out a quote from journalist Dorothy Thompson, who said, “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

And then, this past January, my husband and I brought home our one-day-old baby daughter. As we drove away from the hospital, I told my husband in a wondering voice, “There’s a baby in our car!” Even after all the preparation, it seemed nearly impossible. Throughout the first weeks with her, my husband and I stared at each other in sleep-deprived astonishment, laughing and asking each other, “Do you feel like a parent?” And slowly the answer shifted from Um, maybe? to Yes. Absolutely yes. We named our daughter Grace; it’s an old family name, but also a word for possibility and renewal. Through Grace, we transcended[19] our old fears and perceptions of ourselves that no longer fit. We discovered that life could be so much bigger than we had imagined.

Gracie is sitting on my lap as I proofread[20] this essay. It’s possible that my work has slowed down somewhat, but I also think that I’ve gotten more efficient, cutting away nonessential tasks. Life pours into new containers: I write during nap times and mull over plots during feedings.[21] Gracie and I are half-minded together, dreaming together; she reclines on my lap and reaches for the pages of her cardboard book. To my joy and surprise, I’ve learned that as important as it is to have space to work in, I don’t always have to do it all alone. Sometimes a tiny new perspective is the best inspiration of all.


1. enthusiastic: 满腔热情的,热心的。

2. necessitate: 需要,使……成为必要;extravagance: 奢侈,铺张浪费,放纵的言行。

3. unfulfilling: 不称心的,令人不满足的,使人不愉快的;nap: 小睡,打盹。

4. unencumbered: 没有阻碍的,不受妨碍的。

5. elaborate: 精致的,精心布置的;secluded: 隔绝的,隐蔽的;study: 书房。

6. be compatible with:与……不矛盾, 与……共处。

7. 本句提到的女性依次为英国作家凯瑟琳•曼斯菲尔德、美国作家伊迪丝•华顿和美国作家尤多拉•韦尔蒂,下句提到的Virginia Woolf是英国著名作家弗吉尼亚•伍尔夫。

8. 我发现,追寻一个人的激情梦想会消耗其所有的精力,几乎所剩无几。

9. guts: 勇气,胆量。

10. blurt: 脱口而出;twinge: 阵痛,一阵刺痛,一阵思绪(通常指不快的)。

11. register: 显出,显示;ambivalence: 矛盾的心理。

12. greyhound: 灵缇犬,原产地意大利,体型小巧。

13. 我很快养成了一个说话的习惯:一边轻拍抱在怀里的Yogi背部,一边柔声地说“乖点儿。”coo: 温柔可爱地说话,柔声地说。

14. Julia Child: 茱莉亚•蔡尔德(1912-2004),美国的知名厨师、作家与电视节目主持人。

15. reverberate: 回响,回荡。

16. transformative: 改革的,变化的;memoir: 回忆录,自传。

17. starkly: 完全地。

18. bewitch: 蛊惑,使着迷。

19. transcend: 超越。

20. proofread: 校对。

21. 生活注入了新的内容:我在(宝宝)睡觉时写作,在喂奶时构思情节。mull over: 仔细考虑




















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