When I was a little girl, I had a wonderful babysitter named Eileen. She was an older woman: a wife and mother-who used to take me on make-believe adventures in my own backyard. We would talk for hours about the magical things happening all around us that no one else could see but the two of us. She liked to be called my “visitor” because she wanted me to know she was my friend.
Eileen died last year and it was only then that I found out the truth. Her husband never wanted her to have a job outside her home, so she used to sneak away to babysit for me. My mom would pull up to her home and she’d jump into her car and get away from the reality of her own life. She also got her own income and her secret independence for a few hours each day.
As 2013 turns into 2014, I reflect on the many truths that I have learned this year. I have learned that while fruit is healthy, it is actually fattening, especially bananas. I have learned that I am now finding most places to be very loud. Background music at stores, restaurants and the mall make it very difficult for me to hear anyone anymore. I have also learned that a home phone number is no longer necessary, as I find that I only give it to people that I don’t want to talk to.
This past weekend we took our kids to The Polar Express near the Grand Canyon. It is a 1 hour experience in which a real train takes the family to the North Pole for cookies and hot chocolate (also fattening, I might add.) Aidan didn’t buy it for one minute, questioning everything. “The North Pole is actually near Flagstaff? That doesn’t make any geographical sense.” 5 years old and already a non-believer.
This was also the week that Sam had to say goodbye to yet another show and cast with the ending of Sound of Music. As the fabulous cast flew back to New York today and I watched Sam struggle with the sadness that always ensues, I again question this activity for my son. When a season of baseball ends for other boys his age, they know they will see each other again at school. It may take years for Sam to see these friends again.
But any other activity would not have given me the year that I had in 2013. A year where I traveled the country, conquered many of my fears, and rediscovered my youth. I went whitewater rafting, took a train with a stranger, slept in hotels with many questionable stains, let a beautiful blonde woman move into my home and take care of my children and husband while I was away, and started a blog in which I discussed my boobs with the world. I quit my job, realized my true passions and saw friends and family I may never have seen had we not sent in that videotaped audition.
During this winter break** we have seen many movies, but my favorite has been Saving Mr. Banks. The moment in which Walt Disney describes the importance of fantasy and make believe in a child’s life took my breath away.
**Denotes sarcasm. It is not a break to have your children home with nothing to do for 2 weeks.
So, although I’m glad I know the truth about Eileen, I wish I didn’t know. Her make believe existence to me as a woman who could have it all as a mother/wife/babysitter was a lot better to me than the knowledge that she had to lie and sneak to do what she loved.
And as much as I love the fact that my Aidan questions the world around him at such a young age, I wish he would just believe in magic for a little while longer. I believe, along with Mr. Disney, that fantasy and an active imagination is the key to a happy childhood. Reality is just not as much fun.
So thank you to all of you for going on this journey with me in 2013. I hope 2014 will finally allow me to finish the momontour book, which contains all of the really juicy stories you haven’t heard yet. And then the film version, in which I will be played by Minnie Driver and Sam will be played by Justin Bieber. And then I’ll be on the cover of People Magazine…and then onto Barbara Walters most fascinating people of 2014 end of year special.
Fantasy is better than reality. But sometimes your fantasies can become your reality. And that, really, is better than anything.
Happy New Year! And “goodbye” to 2013 from Sam as Frederich in Sound of Music.