When I was expecting, people would always comment on how the bond between a mother and her young son is exceptionally strong. Of course, I ate it up completely. I had always thought I’d be a mom to a daughter so I was looking for any sign from the universe that I’d be a great parent to the little boy growing inside me.

Guess what? All of those premonitions from others during my pregnancy have turned out to be true!  My son and I have a really fun, very strong relationship. It’s more than I ever could have hoped for. With that in mind, in his younger days, I found myself drawn to books that highlighted the special connection between mother and son.

Of course, most of us are well acquainted with Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. I have always felt like this story was written specifically to manipulate parents into bawling their eyes out in a ‘Cats in the Cradle’ sort of way. Definitely not the kind of parent/child relationship I’m cultivating. Instead, I have a recommendation that highlights the security and strength that mothers can impart to their children in an uplifting and heartfelt way.

My son received Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino, as a gift from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Just a quick aside: This is an incredible program that gifts one book per month to a child from the ages birth to 5 years old. My son received 60 free books through the program’s local chapter. Check to see if you have one in your area!

Okay, back to the book… Meet Me at the Moon is a very sweet (but not saccharine) story of a mother elephant (Mama) and her young calf (Little One) who live in an area that has become very dry. Mama determines that she must leave Little One to venture to the highest mountain in the land to ask for rain. In her short absence, he will be looked after by the other animals of the plains. He asks what he should do when she can’t hear him. Mama tells him to listen for her sound on the wind, that she will sing to him.

When Little One asks how he will know that she still loves him, Mama tells him that she loves him like the sun loves the earth. That when he feels the warmth of the sun, that is her love. Totally relatable, right? A mother’s love is omnipresent, regardless of proximity.

But what happens when Little One can’t see Mama? Look for the brightest star in the sky. If we both look at the same star, it’s as though we’re looking at each other. Again, plenty of parents have told their children to do the same with a star or the moon. And as for how they will be reunited, Mama tells Little One to meet her at the moon, where the sky touches the earth.

Then she leaves to climb the highest mountain. Yes, it’s very sad but it’s also the reality for mothers and children the world over, whether for work, military service, medical care or in some cases, incarceration. But the message is that Little One is never alone. There are ways that he can be with Mama, even when she is not physically present.

Mama is gone for a week and Little One is comforted by the sound of her song on the wind, the warmth of the sun and by the brightest star in the sky, during her absence. Eventually the sky cracks open with the pounding rain Mama has asked for. But as a result of the rain, there is no way to hear her song. The stars are covered by clouds and the sun hides its warmth. All the while, the moon stays high in the sky and Little One wonders how he’s supposed to reach it.

But then he remembers that he has his own song and he begins to sound off, long into the night. With time, the moon begins to drop and he sees the silhouette of a familiar figure approaching from the distance. When the moon finally touches the earth, Mama answers with her song. The two have been reunited and all is well.

Though I’ve been fortunate not to experience a lengthy absence from my son, this was a helpful book when he started preschool and then again in kindergarten, when attendance was longer and more frequent. I think it’s a great read in preparation for school, a work trip, a medical procedure or really anytime that you might feel your child is in need of reassurance that you’ll always be there for them. Though I’ve stated that I’m not a fan of Love You Forever, I do agree with the phrase, ‘As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be’. Hug those babies!

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