Review: When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan

I hate that this is the third review I’m going to write about a book (although only the first here!) wherein I call a book about cancer/tumors funny, but there it is. When Life Gives You Pears is hilarious.

I’m going to admit that I don’t know much about Jim Gaffigan besides someone I follow posting quotes from him occasionally. I know at least some of his comedy is about parenting, so if I were a big comedy special watcher, I’d probably be into him. I knew absolutely nothing about his family life. I certainly didn’t realize his wife was one of his writers, and therefore a very funny person.

I listened to this book as an audiobook, so a note on the narrator: The author narrates a lot of this book. How she doesn’t break down in some of the reading is beyond me. The beginning, however, is narrated by her sister because she had just undergone surgery on her vocal cords. The explanation for this sort of sets the tone for the book.

As a working mother, there were some major takeaways from this book. First, Jeannie had written off all the symptoms of a pretty significant brain tumor as just the result of being a busy mom. Again, ladies: Motherhood affects us like a brain tumor might. Tiredness, headaches, some dizzy spells; just par for the course, right?

Second, and this lines up well with where I’m at in my personal journey, she feels like she is the only one who can do the household things “right”, so she does them all. In the period where she was recovering from brain surgery, she had to allow someone else to handle it, and the world did not implode. She also realized that not allowing her family to take care of things themselves was doing them a disservice.

Third, and most importantly, while I treasure my children and have certainly done a better job as a more experienced mother with my two littles of pausing to enjoy their random weird quirkiness when it hits, Jeannie talks a lot about how after she thought she might die, she realized we really don’t have forever with our kids and she values her time with them in a whole new way. Middle Brother was cranky tonight, and you bet your ass I stopped cooking dinner to sit and meet him where he was and make sure he felt seen. If heaven forbid something should happen to me and I’m gone from my children’s lives, I want them to know how much they were loved and have beautiful memories to look back on.

This book may make you cry a little, but it will definitely make you laugh a lot. It will also do you the service of helping you evaluate how you’re prioritizing your time at home.

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