Throughout my pregnancy I'd periodically pick out a book we'd been given and read it. I have to say that when I got around to Love You Forever I was a little horrified. Apparently it's one of the best selling children's books of all time, ranked 4th by Publisher's Weekly back in 2001, according to Wikipedia. And Maria Shriver can't read it without crying (also Wikipedia), so maybe it's just me.
If you're not familiar with the story it begins with a mother holding her newborn baby while singing a lullaby:
"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."
Now each time the mother is rocking her increasingly older son back and forth, back and forth, she sings the lullaby. But before each new trek across her kid's floor she's basically talking about what a horrible child he is. He runs around the house, he flushes her watch down the toilet, he never wants to take a bath, he swears like a sailor when grandma is around, he has strange friends and listens to strange music. She never has anything good to say about him. He drives her crazy! He belongs in a zoo! But she loves him anyway and across his floor she goes. And then he up and leaves her. Grows up and moves all the way across town. How dare he?! I feel sorry for whoever this poor sap marries. Talk about the helicopter mother-in-law from hell.
And then this poor guy, probably in therapy because he keeps waking up to find his mother crawling across his bedroom floor, gets a call from her one day. She says, "You better come and see me because I'm very old and sick." So now she's totally guilt-tripping him. He goes over, dutiful son that he is, and it's supposed to be all poignant because this time he's the one rocking her back and forth, back and forth, and singing his version of the lullaby. And then she dies. Or it's at least implied that she dies. SERIOUSLY? Like I'm going to read my young son a book about his mother (ME!) dying? I don't think so.
The son returns home only to pick up his newborn daughter, rock her back and forth, yadda yadda, singing his mother's lullaby and the twisted cycle starts all over again. At least he doesn't crawl across the floor.
Before I started this post I did a little research into the book, which according to the author's website is very popular with the retirement community set. It turns out that Love You Forever was inspired by the author's two stillborn babies. Now that made me feel a little bad about what I was planning to write about it, but I can't help it. IT CREEPS ME OUT!
Incidentally, I also saw on Wikipedia that Love You Forever was featured in a Friends episode in which Joey does a dramatic reading of it. I must have missed that one but I bet is was hilarious.