1 I sat

I sat around a table of couples in my husband’s hometown this spring, all his former classmates and their wives. Each pair had children and shared lots of stories of life with a baby. Our daughter was only five months old at the time. We were just beginning the journey.

今年春天,我在老公的家乡与他以前的同学及妻子一起吃饭。 每一对夫妻都生有孩子,话题很多都跟养育孩子有关。 当时我俩的女儿才5个月。 为人父母的日子我们俩才刚刚开始体验。

2 What makes

What makes our journey unique, however, is our negotiation of roles between Chinese father and Canadian mother, and specifically surrounding gender equity. Gender equity is a hard issue to work out generally, but now with a baby, any hope I had for balance is skewed, yet again, by the full-time presence of my mother-in-law as our caregiver. Now we are two women and one man, one with Western ideas (me) and two Chinese people who think I’m extreme. It’s been a wobbly triangle.

同样为人父母,我们俩的与众不同之处在于一位中国父亲和一位加拿大母亲如何协调在家中所扮演的角色,尤其是男女平等问题。 男女平等通常是个不容易解决的问题,现在有了孩子,加上我婆婆全天在我家帮忙照料,越发使我原先男女平等的希望变得不可能了。 如今我们是两个女人一个男人,其中之一持有西方观念(我),两个中国人则觉得我太极端。 这是种很不稳定的三角关系。

3 When my

When my daughter was born, my mother-in-law left her hometown and moved to Beijing, separated from her husband for the first time in their 35-year marriage. She left behind a prominent career as well as her aged father (my husband’s grandfather) for whom she was the primary caregiver for the past decade. A new generation is that important. Her role is clear. She has to be here.

我女儿出生后,我婆婆离开她老家,来到北京,是她结婚35年来第一次与丈夫分居。 她离开了一份体面的工作,还有十年来一直主要靠她照顾着的老父(我老公的外公)。 下一代是那么的重要。 她的作用很明确。 她必须到我们这里来。

4 At first

At first, I was really uncomfortable with this level of sacrifice. The cooking, the cleaning and the childcare were all amazing bonuses that I don’t dare complain about , especially when I see friends back in Canada struggle with daycare or juggle working hours with only occasional help from family, but the hours she put in! The complete devotion to the task of helping us manage our household seemed extreme.

一开始,我对这样的牺牲深感别扭。 她做饭、打扫、带孩子,这一切都是期望之外的,我不敢有任何怨言,尤其当我看到在加拿大的朋友们将孩子日托,艰难维持,或是上班与家务兼顾,忙得不可开交,偶尔才有家人帮忙,再看看我婆婆付出了多少时间! 她全身心投入帮助我们照料家务,远非常人所能做到的。

5 At times

At times, this level of generosity made me look over my shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop. When would I be presented with a bill? How could I ever repay this kindness? Was I being grateful enough? What was the catch?

有时,这种慷慨大度令我心神不宁,不知道接下来会有什么事。 什么时候会开出个账单给我呢? 我又怎么回报得了这份好意呢? 我是不是表达了足够的感激呢? 这里边有没有什么陷阱啊?

6 In that

In that state of paranoia, my husband and I began a phase of fighting about why he wasn’t taking on half of the childcare duties. In my Western eyes, he was falling short of my expectations and wasn’t honouring his role as a father. I was incensed at his laziness when it came to washing diapers, for example, or his prioritizing work-related time away from home rather than coming home to be with his daughter. Or, worse, his apparent expectation that while his mother was in our apartment, she would just wash up every dish he used.

在这种偏执的心态之下,我和老公开始了一段争吵,他为什么不承担起照料孩子的一半责任呢? 从我一个西方人看来,他没有做到我所期待的,没有担当起父亲的责任。 比如在洗尿布这事上,他的懒惰令我气愤。还有,他优先考虑外边与工作有关的事务,而不是回家陪伴女儿。 更为糟糕的是,他显然觉得只要他妈跟我们一起住,那洗他用过的碗当然就是她的事。

7 When I

When I would push him to do more for the baby and as a parent, his answer was most commonly: “Get my mother to help you!” To which I’d respond, “She’s not here to help just me; she’s here to help us! Managing this family is your job too!” Our fights seemed to get us nowhere, however. We were clearly two people looking at the same painted wall and each declaring it different colours.

每次我催促他为孩子多做一点事,多尽一点做父亲的责任,他的回答往往就是: “让我妈帮你啊!” 我回应说: “她来咱家不是来帮我一个人的,她是来帮咱这个家的。 照料这个家也是你的职责!” 然而我俩的争吵似乎不解决任何问题。 我们显然就是两个人看着同一面油漆的墙,而说它的颜色不一样。

8 My mother

My mother-in-law took me aside one day when he was not at home. Having witnessed yet another argument between us that morning, she expressed to me that perhaps I don’t understand this aspect of Chinese culture. Her role here, she explained, was to replace her son in the equation — to lighten his burden, allowing him to maintain his former life rhythms, while helping me out with parenting and household management.

一天他不在家,我婆婆把我叫到一旁。 那天早上她看到我俩又争吵了,她说我可能不理解中国文化的这个方面。 她解释说,自己来这儿的作用就是在家庭格局中替代儿子,好减轻他的负担,好让他保持以往的生活节奏,同时帮助我带孩子操持家务。

9 I felt myself

I felt myself teetering backwards. I am expected to be a mother and caregiver but he is relieved of his fatherly duties by his mother? Why does he get out of the daily tasks of changing her diapers, preparing our daughter’s food, rocking her back to sleep? He is one of two parents, so, in my view, our daughter should be half his responsibility. I didn’t marry my mother-in-law, after all.

听了,我气得几乎站立不稳。 我就该当妈照料孩子,而他妈却可以免除他做父亲的责任? 为什么他就不用天天给孩子换尿布、弄吃的、摇着孩子入睡? 他也是双亲之一,因此,在我看来,照料我们的女儿他理应承担一半的责任。 毕竟我嫁的不是我婆婆。

10 Don’t get

Don’t get me wrong, I think my mother-in-law is a wonderful grandmother to my daughter, but my preference is for greater involvement from her daddy so that my daughter understands a strong parental unit. Everyone tells me to 入乡随俗, which is the equivalent Chinese saying to “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” But I argue that as the sole model for the Canadian side of my daughter’s cross-cultural heritage, we need to strike a balance between both cultural parenting practices. She’s half Canadian, after all.

别误会我。我真心觉得婆婆是我女儿的好奶奶,但我宁愿孩子他爹能多承担一些,这样女儿就会懂得父母是一个紧密相连的整体。 大家都跟我说要入乡随俗,相当于英语里的 “身在罗马就得像罗马人般行事” 。 而我作为我女儿跨文化传统中唯一一个代表加拿大传统的人,则认为,我俩需要在两种育儿文化传统中达成一种平衡。 毕竟她有二分之一的加拿大血统。

11 Around the

Around the dinner table this spring in my husband’s hometown, the women really put things in perspective for me. They spoke about how their husbands barely even held their children for the first year.

今年春天在我老公老家的那次饭局上,在座的女士们真的让我对这些事有了正确的看法。 她们说自己的老公在孩子生下的第一年几乎都没怎么抱过孩子。

12 Your husband

“Your husband is already so much better than most Chinese men,” they said laughing, “You’re so lucky!”

“你老公已经比大多数中国男人好多了,” 她们笑着说, “你好福气啊。”

13 The truth is

The truth is that my husband has washed the occasional diaper (in response to my growling), has rocked her to sleep on nights when I’ve had to work or when I’ve needed a break, and scoops her up and plays with her regularly. He just hasn’t adopted daily habits around her schedule like I have. He sees this as the normal difference between mothers and fathers.

其实我老公偶尔(在我的吼叫之下)也洗尿布,在我晚上需要工作或休息的时候也摇着孩子入睡,也常将她揽入怀中、跟她一起玩。 他只是不像我那样每天围绕孩子的节律安排自己的事。 他觉得这是当妈跟当爹的正常区别。

14 On a subsequent

On a subsequent trip to my husband’s hometown, we dined once again with one of those couples we had met with in the spring. While the men were locked in their own conversation, I vented some of this conflict with the wife. She had this to say:

后来我们又回老公老家,又跟春天那次饭局上相遇的一对夫妇一起吃饭。 两个男的聊得挺欢,我就对那媳妇吐槽了我和老公的冲突。 她是这么说的:

15 Your daughter

“Your daughter just needs you more right now. Her grandmother keeps it all in balance by being a type of third parent — it’s the Chinese way! Besides, balance is better than equality, right?” Then she added, eyes sparkling, “But don’t forget that when she’s old, you’ll be changing her diaper. That’s also the Chinese way!”

“你女儿现在就是更需要你。 她奶奶扮演了一种第三个家长的角色,于是家里就有了平衡——这就是中国方式。 再说,平衡好过男女平等,对不对?” 她眼睛一亮,接着说, “可是别忘了,等她老了,你将要给她换尿布。 这也是中国方式。”

16 And there it

And there it is — 25 years from now, we’ll be presented with the bill for my mother-in-law’s enormous sacrifices. “Oh no,” I answered steadily. “After getting away with not changing very many for his daughter, when the time comes to change my mother-in-law’s diapers, it will most definitely be her son’s job! ”

哦,原来如此,再过25年,我们就会收到婆婆付出重大牺牲的账单。 “没门,”我坚定地说。 “她儿子逃避责任,没怎么给自己女儿换尿布,等我婆婆需要别人换尿布时,这个事儿只能是她自己的儿子做。”


最后修改:2023 年 01 月 06 日 09 : 01 AM