Guess How Much I Love You

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This post is a part of my “Board Book Beauty – Savoring the small as I read to my toddler” series. To see all of the posts in the series, go here.

Katie’s Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Michael (or “Fats” and “Mike,” in Katie-speak) live just five minutes down the highway from us. We see them once or twice a week, unless it’s a really good week, and then we see them more.

My little girl adores Aunt Fats and Uncle Mike. They came to stay with her in the wee hours of the morning on the day Abigail was born and, two months later, Katie still mentions this fact three or four times a week. Her voice rings with excitement and fond remembrance as she tells me how Mommy and Daddy and Abby were in the hospital and she got to play with Aunt Fats.

I’m not sure when it started, but Steph and Katie have a ritual they perform when they see each other. My sister scoops her niece up into her arms, squeezing her to her chest, and asks, “How much do I love you, Katie-lyn?” and then tosses her in the air as Katie responds, “To the mooooon!”


The engineer in me is often at war with the creative writer, the logical part of my brain fighting my romantic side. Case in point:

I cannot explain to you what it means to love somebody to the moon (and back, as is often said). To be sure, the moon is far away – some 238,900 miles, on average – but I’m unsure of how to equate love to distance, unsure of how to quantify or measure the love you might bear for someone.

There’s a meme floating around cyberspace regarding this, one that attempts to answer my question. “Every day,” it says, “the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, that is equivalent to driving to the moon and back. So, when you tell someone you love them ‘to the moon and back,’ you’re essentially saying you will love them with all the blood your heart pumps your whole life. Which I think is equally as meaningful.”

Grammatical and logical errors aside, the initial premise is simply untrue: a gallon of gasoline contains roughly 31,000 kilocalories of energy, which is 15.5 times the total number the average adult is supposed to consume in a day. As heart-warming (see what I did there?) as the statement is, it’s off by at least an order of magnitude. As much as I’d like to find some deeper meaning behind the saying, this interpretation just doesn’t cut it.

And yet, I like the phrase, like that we try to express our love in extravagant ways. I love that Katie and her aunt have this relationship, this bond, that they do this silly thing together that brings joy to both their hearts.


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We received Guess How Much I Love You at one of the baby showers thrown for us before Katie’s birth. I tried to introduce it to her early on in her reading career with little success; despite my excitement about it, despite me telling her I love her as much as Big Nutbrown Hare loves Little Nutbrown Hare, she never showed much interest in it.

In recent weeks, however, she’s started bringing it to me during our book marathons. I don’t know whether this is due to her ritual with Aunt Fats – she hasn’t mentioned the connection – but I’m only too happy to oblige. I stretch my arms wide and reach-reach-reach (“Reach, Mama!”) toward the ceiling to imitate the two hares. I slow down toward the end, hoping as I read the final words that, while I’m reading what’s printed on the page, she’ll realize I’m really saying these things to her:

“[He] looked beyond the big thornbushes, out into the big dark night. Nothing could be farther than the sky. ‘I love you right up to the moon,’ he said, and closed his eyes. ‘Oh, that’s far,’ said Big Nutbrown Hare. ‘That is very, very far.’ Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bead of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him goodnight. Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, ‘I love you right up to the moon – and back.'”

And with that, the romantic creative writer in me tells the logical engineer to take a hike. To the moon. And back.

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Family and Parenting, Loving Others

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One Response to Guess How Much I Love You

  1. jywatkins says:

    I love how you analyzed the phrase with your engineer brain!

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