All around South Park, someone has been putting these stickers up.
And I’ve been taking pictures.
The first one I saw was late at night while walking with my son back to our car. It was stuck against a water meter, tucked down the gap between two cinder-block buildings. The light was low, making the discovery seem even more like some sort of message left just for me.
My son read the words out loud and chuckled with the smug complacency of a ten-year-old who is certain the he is indeed living a great story and will continue to do so for his future. A future full of endless possibilities.
I, however, don’t share his conviction. I am not certain that I live a great story. And part of me wonders if I am even capable of living one if I chose to.
I inaccurately remember the opening monologue of the movie The Good Girl where Jennifer Aniston’s character talks about how as a child she would view life as a room with multiple doors. She’d pick one and enter a room with more doors. Then she’d pick another and enter another room. And so on; never noticing that each room had fewer doors until, one day, she finds herself in a long hallway with no door options just a long expanse of featureless white walls.
That how I remember it. In reality, the monologue goes like this:
“As a girl you see the world like a giant candy store, filled with sweet candy and such. But one day you look around and see a prison, and you’re on death row. You wanna run, or scream, or cry. But somethin’s lockin’ you up. Are the other folks cows chewin’ cud ‘til the hour comes and their heads roll, or are they just keepin’ quiet like you…planning their escape?”
I think I like my version better (which I am sure I got from somewhere, so please help me credit it); it isn’t quite as desperate as death row. I prefer a narrative with more quiet desperation.
The story I often tell myself is that every time I choose something, I lose the option to live a great story. I fear a mediocre life.
Now, part of me wants to add a long and drawn out disclaimer, explaining that this is all my first world problems. Certainly, I have enough friends who think that poo-pooing my fear will assure me that I am most definitely not mediocre. And while I appreciate their intentions, it does nothing to change my internal monologue. So, no disclaimer. Just my thoughts (believe me that behind every word I write, there is a Greek chorus telling me to take it back, telling me that I am ridiculous. I know that I need a paradigm shift).
Part of why I am stuck in this story of mediocrity is that I am also ashamed of one of the reasons I feel I am not destined for a great story: I am a mom. You are not supposed to feel like motherhood makes you mediocre. Motherhood is the most blessed of all occupations . . . .blah blah blah. I am not ashamed of my son. I am not ashamed that I am a mother. I am ashamed that I feel that motherhood makes me less than great. I am not just any kind of mom, but one who is the primary caregiver of my son while not doing anything that remotely equates to being a breadwinner.
I am a closet stay-at-home-mom.
A stay-at-home mom who works constantly on things outside of the home that never seem to result in any career trajectory. I am not the stay-at-home mom with the blogging empire or amazing Pinterest boards. I am not a domestic goddess. I am not the CEO of my household. I am not my child’s educator. And while I do have a lot of projects in the air, they never seem like they are enough to make me think I could achieve anything of import in my life.
This is why, in my mind, I can never have a great story.
(yes, I know, leave them in the comments. Trust me, I’ve already thought of everything you can say.)
The above picture is the third in my “Live a Great Life” sticker pictures I’ve taken. It is by far the best one. The composition is completely accidental. My son and I were tooting around South Park with our friend and her two small children. They stepped into the frame, ruining my artsy shot.
I love this picture. I love that it happened despite my best intentions. I love that it defied my expectations and sparked a story in my imagination. A story, maybe even a great one, that can include in its frame a domestic life.
At least, that is what I read in this message meant for me.