November 27, 2011

I'll Love You Forever...

I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.
Can you read this book by Robert Munsch without sobbing?  Not me.  I've tried.  I don't mean that I get a little misty or cry a few tears and then go on with my evening.  I mean I sob.  Huge, heaving sobs that would scare my best friend.  I do not read this picture book to my boys.  I own two copies and always know where to find one or the other.  But I never go looking for them.  It's enough to know that the words are there.  It's almost too much.

I still tend to be incredibly hard on myself when it comes to my parenting.  I'm terrified of giving my sons a childhood that will haunt them into adulthood and hinder their progress in the world.  My own childhood ended abruptly and irrevocably at age 9.  We've all heard "it's not that we'd ever make the same mistakes our parents did but we will certainly make our own".  My children are resilient but they are not impermeable.  I make mistakes.  I say things I shouldn't.  I ask for forgiveness and then I try harder.   I pray (oh, how I pray) that we are as fortunate as these families:

I struggled, sure. We lived hand-to-mouth, but it was really heart-to-hand. Guy had love and laughter and a lot of good reading and poetry as a child. Having my son brought out the best in me and enlarged my life. Whatever he missed, he himself is a great father today. He was once asked what it was like growing up in Maya Angelou's shadow, and he said, 'I always thought I was in her light.'" ---Maya Angelou

When Chloe was well into adulthood, I asked nervously if she felt she'd been ignored as a child with all my frantic juggling of two careers and the responsibilities of home.  She was startled.
     "Wasn't I the center of your world?" she asked.
    "Did you feel you were?" I said.
    "Of course.  I was the center of your world, wasn't I?"
    "Yes, yes, you were," I said hastily.        ---Mem Fox

Clearly, despite daily struggles and stress, these mothers did something right.  Their children felt loved and cherished.  Well into adulthood they are sustained by those truths.  When I tell my sons that I love them, I mean it--each and every syllable, each and every time.  I just hope they hear it.  Really, really hear it.

Here's my current favorite mother/son duo:  Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Matt Damon.  As a woman with a busy career, there must have been times when she wondered if her children would turn out okay.  This particular moment must have felt like her birthday, Christmas and Mother's Day all rolled into one.   I imagine that this was not the first time Ms. Carlsson-Paige was proud of her son.  I also imagine that no matter how successful and well-spoken he is, Matt will always be her little boy.  I read somewhere that she paid his parking tickets long after he was a Hollywood star.   I wonder how many times she's read Robert Munsch's classic picture book.


  1. Oh Lara...that was just beautiful. I first had this story read to me when I was a junior in college by a dear sweet friend as we hung out one night in the dorms. I bawled and I mean, bawled, my eyes out as did Traci. I went out and bought a copy the very next day which is somewhere lost in my closet. As soon as I found out I was carrying a little boy I bought another copy. I read it to him almost as soon as I brought him home, crying the entire time. He got a copy from a friend for his 1st birthday which he 'reads' from time to time. I no longer read it to him because at this age I can't bring myself to do it for fear I'll scare him with my weeping.

    All that to say you are an amazing woman, mother, friend, teacher, daughter...everything. I don't know what happened when you were a little girl, but my heart aches for that 9 year old girl. I can almost feel her heartbreak. We are going to make mistakes...lots of them. And they will as well. Will it change who we/they are? I don't know. But who's to say that some of those mistakes aren't God's plan to make us who we all should be? We have to have faith. Faith in ourselves, our children, our God. That's most likely what sustained all those wonderful mothers you quoted in your post. Faith. And on days where you don't feel you have enough just close your eyes and hear God saying to you..
    .I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.

  2. Someone gave me that book for my baby shower, and after the shower was over, and a bunch of us were upstairs putting things away, one of my friends pulled out the book and said, "This book is great, we have to read it aloud." There was not a single dry eye in the room when she was done.

    I love that exchange with Matt Damon. What a great guy - I hope I can do half as well with my son!

  3. What a wonderful post. The book brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Thanks too for sharing that video of Matt Damon and his mom. And I'm happy to hear she still paid his parking tickets long after he was famous :)

  4. I think what makes choice moms unique is that each of us DESPERATELY wants/wanted to have a child(ren). Not to say that people in couples don't want desperately to have their children. But I know that I don't take anything for granted with my daughter. And yes, we make mistakes, and will continue to make mistakes - that makes us human, but hopefully we will raise our little ones with love and we will teach them to be independent, but they will always stand by us :) Love your post.

  5. Beautiful post...I have no doubt that your boys will look back on their childhood & remember how hard their mom worked to make their lives full, fun & loved.

  6. Well, I guess I have to buy that book! Although, I'm not sure I'm ready to sit down and cry my eyes out over it! Sounds like it's a good read, nonetheless. Everything that I read about your life with your children sends me the image of a wonderful mom. Your children will also grow to appreciate all you do for them.