Have you ever caught yourself tearing up as you read your child a bedtime story? If not, try reading “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch aloud.
You know the book — the one that admittedly gets a tad creepy two-thirds of the way in when the elderly mom drives across town with a ladder to climb in her grown son’s window and rock him to sleep. Despite this questionable practice, a few pages later, you may well find yourself reaching for a tissue. At least I always do.
Almost four years in as a mom, I keep an informal running list of children’s books in my head that for one reason or another provoke tears brought on by the realization that I love my children so frickin’ much and a bunny, koala bear or other animated character brought that reality home. Funny how a book meant for a 3-year-old sometimes reminds me, a 34-year-old, how awesomely powerful that bond of parenthood is.
I added a new book to this list last week after visiting my cousin and meeting her month-old twin girls. She shared a book given to her by a friend that darned if it didn’t make my eyes sting! It’s a goodie, and I hadn’t heard of it, so I pass it on. It’s called “Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You” by Nancy Tillman. I think that it is at this point that I felt the tears begin to well:
“And if someday you’re lonely,
or someday you’re sad,
or you strike out at baseball,
or think you’ve been bad…
just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.
That’s me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.”
Another book that gets me? “Koala Lou” by Mem Fox. This is not a new book (published in 1994), but I found it in a stash of books my former kindergarten teacher mom gave me upon her retirement. This little koala gets a special reminder from his beloved mom of how much she loves him despite the many brothers and sisters with whom he has to share her attention and affections. As I count down the weeks until my third child enters the world, it’s important to me that my first two know that nothing about a new addition to our family will change just how much I love them even if my lap is not as readily accessible as it has been. I suspect Koala Lou will be making frequent appearances in the early days and weeks after my new daughter enters the world and my older daughter gets accustomed to the idea.
A few years ago, my dear friend sent my little girl a gem of a book in “The Tale of Three Trees,” retold by Angela Elwell Hunt, about the dreams of three trees that come true in ways they could never imagine. The message of how sometimes our greatest plans unfold in ways we didn’t expect but with much more powerful repercussions is driven home in this short folk tale, one of my favorites.
And another one that I love (and can personally appreciate at this particular juncture in my life) is “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes” by Dubose Heyward. At the center of this story is a mom of 21 little ones who earns the coveted role of Easter Bunny despite her many at-home demands. What mom can’t relate to the pull of seeing her own dreams come true while managing home and family? I haven’t figured this out myself yet but can certainly appreciate the sentiment, and I especially enjoy passing this message on to my daughter.
I admit to being far from as well read as I’d like to be (four months on the same novel has me only at the halfway point). But I’m getting some pretty strong takeaways from the early childhood section of the library and, for now, that’ll do.