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Truth Behind Love You Forever

The Story Behind "Love You Forever" Is Probably Not What You Thought

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! We bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this one about the meaning behind a popular baby book.

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
as long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."

You'll probably recognize those words from Robert Munsch's children's book, Love You Forever. It's 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's either either a touching account of a mother's 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's books. Mud Puddle, Mortimer, The Paperback Princess, Smelly Socks, Stephanie's 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't? – I've 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's 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've 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's two stillborn babies.

As Mr. Munsch writes on his web site:

"I 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't 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't 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:

After learning the story behind the story, I'm 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't 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.

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Around The Web
Join The Conversation
PennyWatson8262 PennyWatson8262 1 year

Yes it was... At one point, Mr. Munsch came to my daughter's school to read a book inspired by one of the students at the school! I don't recall which book it was, but was very surprised that he would be that close to his subjects.

DonnaMcGill1396589755 DonnaMcGill1396589755 1 year

I could never read that book....because it made me think of my angle babies. Now it makes sense.

Katie15505497 Katie15505497 1 year

This book always makes me cry. My children look at me like I'm nuts.

EimiMiddlekauff EimiMiddlekauff 1 year

That sounds like a hovering helicopter alright! I just now saw this response lol.

PennyWatson8262 PennyWatson8262 1 year

By the way, Mr. Munsch has statetd that every one of his stories is written about a real-life situation or person. When he came to my daughter's school one year, he created a story about one of her classmates who was in a wheelchair - this was subsequently published.

Robert Munsch is a very insightful man. Sometimes more so than some of the adults who read his works...

PennyWatson8262 PennyWatson8262 1 year

And it ends withthe reciprocal "As long as I'm living, my mommy you'll be..." Familial love CAN last beyond a lifetime!

One of my daughters was violently taken from us just a few months after the birth of her daughter. We have a special appreciation for the message from this book now - as we watch our granddaughters grow and find their place in this world. "As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be" gains a special poignancy when your child is no longer here.

CarolRiker CarolRiker 1 year

I'm with you - seriously - it's a book about love that you read to your little children. Good grief - people got too much time on their hands to come up with this stuff!!

HeidiCole45102 HeidiCole45102 2 years

I realize that this book is not to be taken literally, but do children? That is why I found it creepy.

HeidiCole45102 HeidiCole45102 2 years

It is a parent that stands over their child and does not let them learn/ do things on their own. A parent that does things for a child that they should do for themselves. An example would be a parent calling a collage professor about a child's bad grade, or a school child that cannot dress themself.

NeimaEichenholz1390307327 NeimaEichenholz1390307327 2 years

I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot begin to fathom your pain.
My mom read the book to us as kids. I read it to my little girls but my husband, who lost his mom at a young age, cannot listen to it.
It is a very powerful message of the love a parent has for a child. The kind of love that cannot be understood before one becomes a parent.

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