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The story behind the book "I love you forever"

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Holly-Isis posted 12/26/2013 16:53 PM

Personally, I was always one of those who thought the book was creepy. If I think of it in light of my DS and DD, it kind of still is. If I think of it in light of the early M/C I had, I can see it as a song to an angel baby.

I'm sharing this here for the members who have lost their babies.

的値l love you forever,
I値l like you for always,
as long as I知 living
my baby you値l be.

You値l probably recognize those words from Robert Munsch痴 children痴 book, Love You Forever. It痴 among the best-selling kids books of all time, but it still tends to provoke very different responses among parents. Depending on who you talk to, it痴 either either a touching account of a mother痴 unending love or the ultimate example of helicopter parenting gone bad.

I admit I have always subscribed to that latter category. It pains me to say it, because I love Mr. Munsch痴 books. Mud Puddle, Mortimer, The Paperback Princess, Smelly Socks, Stephanie痴 Ponytail, Too Much Stuff: There are well-worn copies of each of them on my daughters bookshelf. But while we own a copy of Love You Forever who doesn稚? I致e always found the story to be a little bit creepy.

To recap, the book begins with a mother rocking her newborn baby, singing that now-familiar song as he drifts off to sleep. From there the baby grows into a trouble-making toddler, a caked-in-dirt little boy, a sulky teenager and, eventually, a husband and father with a baby of his own. Through it all, every night, even after he痴 moved into his own home, his mother sneaks into his bedroom, pulls him from bed and rocks him while she sings him their song.

I致e read Love You Forever dozens of times over the years, but today I learned the story behind the book: It was originally written as a song for the author痴 two stillborn babies.

As Mr. Munsch writes on his Web site:

的 made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn稚 even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn稚 sing.

For a long time it was just a song but one day, while telling stories at a big theatre at the University of Guelph, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a story around the song.

Out popped Love You Forever, pretty much the way it is in the book.

Thanks to that book, countless parents have sung that song to their own children, in different countries and different languages, in different tunes and styles. Here is how it sounds to Mr. Munsch:
(Video embedded at the site)
After learning the story behind the story, I知 finding it hard to stay cynical. I read Love You Forever again this morning and saw it in a new light. Not as the tale of a mother who just can稚 let go, but as a testament to the love that persists beyond time and space, and an ode to those parents who never had the chance to rock their babies.

And for the first time, when I read Love You Forever today, I cried.

[This message edited by Holly-Isis at 4:55 PM, December 26th (Thursday)]

gardenparty posted 12/26/2013 18:29 PM

I always loved this book and used to read it to my children. Now knowing the story behind it makes it even more special.

TrustedHer posted 12/26/2013 21:38 PM

I had it, and read it to my boys.

I had both feelings for it. Creepy, yet somehow touching.

Nature_Girl posted 12/26/2013 22:59 PM

I love this book. I admit the creeping into the house part of the adult son is truly creepy, but always, ALWAYS, the bit at the end where the roles are reversed gets me sobbing. Just sobbing. I don't think I have ever been able to read the book without breaking down. I am getting tears & my eyes and sniffly just typing up this reply. OMG.

Trying2Survive1 posted 12/27/2013 01:45 AM

I love the book, IMO, you always have those feelings for your mine are older now .... more of a mental hug.

JanaGreen posted 12/27/2013 07:33 AM

allusions posted 12/27/2013 08:55 AM

I never thought the book was creepy. I look at it symbolically--what a loving parent does in his/her heart forever, always being there when needed and emotionally supporting their child. You see it all the time---a middle-aged or elderly parent taking care of a grown child who has cancer or other health problem, etc. The book is called "Love You Forever", not "Helicopter Parenting You Forever".

I CANNOT read this book anymore. Not enough kleenex in the world for me...

lynnm1947 posted 12/27/2013 09:11 AM

I cannot read--have never been able to read-- this book without crying like a baby. What I read into it: You love your babies whether they are six days old or thirty-six years old, as my darling son is. The love you give your children comes back to you. I know this to be true.

looking forward posted 12/27/2013 10:22 AM

I always read this book to my students for Mother's Day (I was an elementary school librarian). I also gave my Mom her own copy.
When she died in 1996, I brought it back home with me; now I have two copies to treasure.
Love you forever, Mom!

circe posted 12/27/2013 14:17 PM

This is odd. I have three children and I've never once heard of this book.

One of my best friends has just had her second child after a completely unexpected and tragic stillbirth three years ago - I wonder if this would be a good book to get for her, or a terrible one?

nutmegkitty posted 12/27/2013 15:30 PM

This book always has made me cry. I didn't find it creepy ever. Now, gosh, I better not open it ever again because the floodgates will open.

nowiknow23 posted 12/27/2013 15:34 PM

My mom gave me this book (while sobbing) when DS was born. He grew up with me reading it to him, laughing his head off at the part where the toddler flushes his mom's watch down the toilet and asking me to repeat the poem again and again.

I tried to read the book to my mom while she was in hospice, but I couldn't finish it.

looking forward posted 12/27/2013 15:52 PM

Circe: It's a lovely book for a mother; it is a very emotional and overwhelmingly sentimental. On one hand, I'm sure your friend would love this book; on the other, it will cause her to weep for her lost child. It's a book full of love and promise.
May I suggest that you go to your local library/bookstore and read it for yourself and then decide.
My mother, when she was living in a retirement home, listened to me read it to her when I visited her on Mother's Day. She always loved it. Even typing this now, I am crying.

t/j: To parents of young children, may I suggest two other books that are lessons in life --
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages by Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D.

[This message edited by looking forward at 3:57 PM, December 27th (Friday)]

Lionne posted 12/27/2013 20:51 PM

I cannot read--have never been able to read-- this book without crying like a baby

Me too. I was a first grade teacher then an elementary librarian.

When DS#1 was about 16, going through a goth stage he butted heads with me about his attire. I had picked my fights carefully, ignored most of it, but there was one sticking point that I insisted he not do. He was pissed. We had never had an issue with him prior to this, he had always been easy going and reasonable about everything. My need to be authoritative was new ground for us.

After I let him know what the boundaries were and that I wasn't deviating, he sulked and was monosyllabic for several days. That was fine, he wasn't rude, just sulking. I ignored, but one day brought home the book and handed it to him. "No matter how angry you get with me, this is how it will always be between us." I can still see him, sitting in the rocking chair, still in his long black leather coat. He read it, placed it on the chair and went to his room. No comment, things seemed to level out for the next few weeks.

In early May he went on a Field Trip to DC. On Mother's Day he presented me a print of my favorite painting, The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks. On the back he had written:

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as your(sic) living
My mommy you'll be

I'm crying just remembering it...

Children's books are some of the best literature going!

tryingagain74 posted 12/27/2013 22:08 PM

Oh, that book always makes me cry. My mom gave it to me when DS #1 was born. Between the strong emotions provoked by the story and the postpartum hormones, I didn't stand a chance!

Another tearjerker (though not for the same reasons) is Someday by Alison McGhee. This one is about the relationship between a mother and her daughter (and the dreams the mom has for her daughter, what will happen as the years pass...).

Yeah, pass the tissues. That's my special book with DD; we both love it, but we also talk about how sad it is!

PurpleRose posted 12/29/2013 21:09 PM

OMG scaredyKat that is the sweetest thing I've ever heard!!

This book always- always! - makes me cry. I cannot read it through without blubbering.

tushnurse posted 12/30/2013 12:36 PM

Damn I knew I shouldn't have opened this thread.

Kat your story is what got me. Be proud that's some powerful parenting.

I was given this book when I was pregnant with my DS by MIL, and though I consider myself well read had never seen it. I used to think it was a bit creepy too, but got the symbolic part of it.
Luckily my DS did not have this one is his regular repertoire of bedtime stories. Now Goodnight Moon - well that's another story. LOL

Holly-Isis posted 12/30/2013 19:05 PM

Funny, I'm the only one that thought it was creepy. I wonder if it's because I came across it in my pre-kid days? Maybe my FOO issues, where there isn't that abiding love.

I see it now with my kids, but my original impression is hard to shake.

gonnabe2016 posted 12/30/2013 22:28 PM

I'll have to dig out my copy and page through it to see if I register a hindsight *creep* factor....because it never pinged as *creepy* to me. I always saw it as a circle of life story. It was *mom* loved kid forever. *I'll love you forever...* and then at the end, when mom was old and frail.....child is holding her and repeating the words from childhood "I'll love you forever..."

Annie1 posted 12/31/2013 12:25 PM

I read that book to my 4 daughters when they were small. My 21 year old lost her battle with insomnia and depression June 20, 2013. This first Christmas I gave each of my living girls a copy of that book. It has and always will make me cry. Thank you for sharing the story behind the story.

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