Planting Dandelions: A Book Review

Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life is a memoir written by Kyran Pittman.  It’s one of the best mommy memoirs I’ve read to date.  For me, it was the perfect mix of wit and insight.  Some parts had my nodding and soaking in the wisdom, others had me laughing out loud.

Here is a taste – to whet your appetite:

Kyran Pittman on Sharing a Bathroom with Boys:

In our family, penises are standard-issue equipment.  We have four of them, or rather, they do, my husband and our three sons.  I am the odd woman out, the minority…vertical is the default position for the toilet seat.  Patrick and the boys seem to view it as a kind of Murphy bed.  Available if needed, but otherwise up and out of their way.  If there were toilet seats with spring-loaded hinges that snapped down like mouse traps, I would install them.  Instead, I give shrill demonstrations in seat raising and lowering, which have a deterrent effect, but not in the way intended.  The boys become reluctant to raise the seat in the first place, and pee all over it…

“I just wiped here this morning!” I yell.  “Seriously, how hard can it be to control a penis?”

Patrick shrugs.  “Pretty hard, sometimes.”  There’s no point in getting technical.  The kinesiology and pneumatics, if he could explain them, would be lost on me, a stranger in a strange land.  No matter how long I live among penises, I’ll never really understand them.  I’m like a mechanic who services imported cars but has never actually been behind the wheel of one.  I don’t know how they handle, first thing in the morning, bursting to pee.  Apparently, like a fire hose.

Kyran Pittman on Sex with a Breastfeeding Mother:

“Not the breasts!” I hissed, blocking him with my elbows.  Any contact with them would set the baby off like a car alarm.  Breast-fed babies have a biometric feature that enables them to detect mammary trespass through walls.  Their heads will detonate by remote if anyone else so much as breathes near their mother’s nipples.  All infants are exquisitely sensitive to ambient sexual activity, or for that matter, sexual thought.  A three-month–old will reliably sleep for several hours at a stretch with one parent staring vacantly into a computer and the other watching infomercials in a neighboring room.  But a mere neck-nuzzle on the way to refill the chip bowl releases sex pheromones that travel through the baby monitor, into the nursery, where they scald the baby, who wakes up enraged like the giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

Kyran Pittman on the Skill Set of Mothers:

Whenever career counselors try to parlay child-rearing experience into marketable job skills, what they typically come up with are administrative functions, like appointment making and record keeping.  As if you’d want to do those things for anyone to whom you weren’t legally or morally bound.  They completely overlook the far more specialized skill set moms acquire over the course of those years, which easily qualifies many of us for top creative positions at Disney World, or in Broadway musical theater.  By the time our kids head off to college, we are show business veterans, having produced, directed, and starred in such classic as “Christmas,” “Halloween,” “Birthday Party” and other holiday extravaganzas for eighteen consecutive years, at breathless tempo.  Motherhood isn’t a desk job.  It’s vaudeville. 

Kyran Pittman on Marriage:

There’s a trade-off for being happily long-married.  The energy of anticipation diminishes, just like collagen or pigment.  You can simulate it, but it’s not the same.  There are no more first kisses.  But there is deeper intimacy, and paradoxically, there is more mystery.  In the early years of our relationship, we had to know everything the other thought, felt, did.  Every issue had to be exposed, examined, and resolved, immediately.  It was like living in the nude.  Sexy for a while, but eventually too familiar.  Our second decade feels more spacious, as if we’ve moved into a different house, where the doors are left open, but there is room to retreat, rest, and change, without anyone having to sneak out a window.  So far, I like it, though if I thought my husband was texting flirtatious messages to another woman from one of his rooms, I might start knocking holes in walls. 

Kyran Pittman on the Parenting Paradox:

There is, in every woman I know, a creature that cannot be domesticated.  It prowls through our dreams, enters the house, casts cold eyes on our mate and children, and holds us rapt in its terrible beauty.  You can love your husband and children with every breath in your body and still feel restless and detached sometimes.  You can be a good mother, and have daydreams of running, or simply walking, away.  It’s the ones who can’t accept this paradox who have the most to fear, are the most vulnerable to the sudden ambush of desire…We belong completely to the lives we’ve made.  And still, not at all.

Hungry for more?  Read it.  You won’t be sorry.

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4 thoughts on “Planting Dandelions: A Book Review

  1. Sounds great! And funny!!! This will be my recommendation for our next book club read. Have you read Jenny Lawson’s, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened? Hi-larious!!!

  2. I just may start reading again with this book:). I love the passages you chose, I can relate well toi each one!

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