I’ll love you forever.
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.
This is the lullaby of a mother to her son in Robert Munsch’s beloved picture book, Love you Forever.
This mother crawls across the floor of her son’s bedroom, and if he is fast asleep, she cradles him on her lap while reciting the lullaby. She does this when he is a baby, a toddler, a 9-year old, a teenager, and ultimately an adult. Yes, an adult.
Finally the mother is too old and sick to come to her son, so he visits her. And as he cradles and rocks his mother, he repeats the familiar words, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.”
After his mother dies, the son goes into the room of his own baby daughter, picks her up from her crib, cradles her, and recites the lullaby. And so the cycle continues.
Now, it is pure sacrilege to utter a word of criticism regarding this beloved classic. Maria Shriver has praised the book, saying she could not read it through without crying. It was even featured in an episode of “Friends” when Joey gives a dramatic reading at Emma’s 1-year birthday, leaving everyone overcome with tears.
But as for me, my tears dry up at the scene where the mom goes to her adult son’s house.
She brings a ladder and climbs through his bedroom window!
Publishers Weekly said about this part of the story, “Either it moves you to tears and you love it, or it makes your skin crawl and you detest it.” Another critic said, “It’s either a touching account of a mother’s unending love or the ultimate helicopter parenting gone bad.”
I find this scene downright creepy. But maybe that is because, if I’m truly honest, my heart’s desire is to do the very same thing. I am jealous of those mother-daughter relationships where they talk or text each other multiple times a day.
But I also know that healthy detachment allows grown children to find their own path and parents to find their own lives while remaining cheerleaders, pray-ers, safety nets, listening ears.
So we should probably resist the urge to climb into our kid’s bedroom window in the dead of night. Much as we want to.
That said, I am going in the garage right now to make sure the ladder is in working order and will fit in the back of our SUV.
Where was I in 1986 when this children’s picture book was published?? I don’t remember it at all. In fact, I never heard of it. I was a bit busy at the time, having made the decision to move back to New York City and finding out I was pregnant with our 1st child. Nevertheless, a book that so many people know and love (some hate) and that won The Parent’s Choice Gold Award, as well as selling 30 million copies worldwide, is hard to miss!
I listened to it being read on a You Tube video this morning. While sweet, endearing, and touching, it’s a bit of an over the top obsessive mother child story (in my opinion). Cradling your teenage child at 17?!! Child services might be called in today!!!
I could picture SNL doing a skit on this and having a blast doing so, but I also smiled to myself. It dovetailed so well with my thoughts on letting go and over texting my adult children. What’s the right amount of space? Will they reach out if they really need me or should I be happy that they are trying to work out their own issues?
I wonder how tall a ladder I would need to reach my daughter’s 2nd floor apt? Kidding!!
-A bond between a mother and child is powerful, and for most of us, lasts until our last breath of life.
-Know when to pull back and when to dive in. It takes practice! Maybe, by the time your children have children of their own, you’ll get it right!!
As always, enjoy the ride!
xox Barclay & Joy