Monday, 18 May 2015

I Love You to the Moon and Back

Every family has their own traditions and funny little rituals, and one that I share with my big boy, M,  is the 'I Love You to the Moon and Back' thing that we do at bedtime.

This little bedtime tradition spun out of reading a special book to him, 'Guess How Much I Love You' by Sam McBratney with illustrations by Anita Jeram.  Every Christmas, I've given M a special, classic book, and I've written a little message inside the cover for him.  For his first Christmas, in December 2011, the book was 'Guess How Much I Love You'.  We began reading it when he was three.

It's such a sweet little story, with gorgeous illustrations, about Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare, who try to demonstrate just how much they love each other; the book ending with Big Nutbrown Hare telling his little one that he loves him 'right up to the Moon -  and back'. 

I read this story to M one night, and as I tucked him in I was overcome with a wave of love for him. I snuggled up next to him and told him that I loved him to the Moon and back. He listened, entranced, interested as only a three year old boy can be, in concepts involving measurements, journeys and space.  The next time I put him to bed, I told him again that I loved him, not just to the Moon and back, but also to the stars and back. And so it began. 

Our little ritual has now developed a life of its own, involving more and more outlandish journeys to exciting and dangerous places, but always ending up with building a rocket and flying up to the Moon.  After his bedtime stories, M will say, "Mummy, do the 'I Love Yous!' "  Here's a typical night's 'I Love Yous'.

I love you ...
through the dark forest,
around the swamp,
over the stile,
into the sweet shop (buy a big bag of sweets) [M always giggles when I put this in],
across the meadow,
into the village,
ride our bikes very fast down the hill,
build a big rocket, and fly up to the Moon and back.
Now my turn!
I love you
over the field,
ride on the rollercoaster,
get on the aeroplane to our holiday,
make a BIG sandcastle on the beach,
into the toy shop,
build a rocket,
up to the Moon and back

Then I usually have to do one more before I insist on bedtime.

It's a lovely little thing we share together.  When I  hear him add adventures into his version, it gives me small insights into the way he thinks.  It's a special way we have of taking some quiet time at the end of the day to giggle and snuggle up together, to bond and connect.

And, for me, the sense of the inability to truly explain the depth of your love for your child that's portrayed in 'Guess How Much I Love You', is something I often think about.  It's a love that has physical manifestations: I wince with pain and fear when I imagine anything bad happening to my two boys; I dissolve into tears of joy often, at the most simple things they say or do; and I carry within my heart such unfathomable feeling for them that there is nothing I can write that will really capture it. 

So I kiss his beautiful face and tell him that I love him to the Moon and back.  But I know that it's much, much more than that.

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