Which is not to say that Jodi Picoult hasn’t chosen her role. She may very well want to spend all day with her children and stay up at night working. Aside from our cultural expectation that women should spread themselves thin in order to spend time with their children, there is also the bald fact that some women want to. God knows, even if we could afford a nanny or daycare, the idea of someone else taking care of the baby makes me uneasy. He’s my baby. The three year old is my boy. If he told a nanny that he and the other boys saw a leprechaun spit on the slide, she wouldn’t get to the bottom of it; she’d just let it go because who even knew what that weird little boy was saying now. It takes a mother to continue questioning all the way until you ascertain that the leprechaun spit is actually bird poop. You cannot pay someone to care about your kids the way you do. You cannot pay someone to be you.
“Father and daughter look so much alike,” the photographer said. "Daddy’s little girl, right?”
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Fortunately, for reasons I won't get into today, I later decided I should envision a reader for the stories I would write. And the reader I decided upon was my mother, because these were stories about mothers. So with this reader in mind -- and in fact she did read my early drafts--I began to write stories using all the Englishes I grew up with: the English I spoke to my mother, which for lack of a better term might be described as "simple"; the English she used with me, which for lack of a better term might be described as "broken"; my translation of her Chinese, which could certainly be described as "watered down"; and what I imagined to be her translation of her Chinese if she could speak in perfect English, her internal language, and for that I sought to preserve the essence, but neither an English nor a Chinese structure. I wanted to capture what language ability tests can never reveal: her intent, her passion, her imagery, the rhythms of her speech and the nature of her thoughts.
I know this gladiatorial narrative only too well, because I’ve heard it every day of my childhood. My mother is a daughter of Zion. One side of her ...