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When Staying Positive Is Ridiculous

Photograph by Getty Images

A positive, grateful attitude is the key to enjoying life, I always say. Being thankful for things in your life—big and small—keeps you constantly positive. I try to teach my children to have gratitude when good things happen, while also seeing the blessing in an unfortunate event.

But sometimes s*** happens. And as much as you want to see the good in a situation, you have to acknowledge the reality when something just sucks. I realized that the other day...

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The day started off relatively typically. There was the regular morning commotion involved in getting my 11-year-old up, showered, fed and off to school. The baby was being her normal morning cute, and her Beyoncé impressions were nipping any bad morning moods or frustrations in the bud. At noon, I was off to a meeting.

Traffic was horrendous, but I was feeling pretty cool when I managed to weave my way around the bulk of it by taking side streets most of the way. I ended up at an intersection where city vehicles and cones had forced me right next to a cement truck. While waiting at the red light, I noticed something thick spraying onto my windshield and across my hood. "You have got to be kidding me," I said out loud as I looked over to confirm the culprit.

Sure enough, that airborne goo was cement coming from the cement truck next to me, and it continued to spray my car like a big, cement-truck-asshole. I hurriedly cracked my window, “HEYYY! YOU ARE SPRAYING ME WITH CEMENT!!!” The guy looked at me wide-eyed and sprang for the hose. He sprayed my car while I seethed and shook my head back and forth. In the meantime, the light had turned green and I was blocking a line of angry cars behind me. The guy with the hose gave me a thumbs-up and a nervous smile and shouted, “You’re all good!” while he motioned me forward, and I went on to my meeting.

But, as it turns out, all was not good. When I went to get in my car after the meeting, I noticed that the water drops, which were wet when I’d left the car, were actually watered-down cement drops and had now dried hard and gray all over my car.

After phone calls to the city clerk’s office and a large sum spent on having the auto detailer buff cement off of my car, it was time to pick my son up from school. My husband suggested that he and our baby daughter come along, and we would all go grab an early dinner afterward. When we rolled up to the curb where my son was waiting, we were greeted with a frantic look and his motioning us to roll down the window. “Your tire is deflating!” he shouted. And just as he finished the sentence we heard the soft whistle of air rushing out of our tire. We had run over a nail.

The “bloody hells" and “oh dears" crescendoed, and my son Evan started to cry.

The sound of whistling tire air was interrupted by a loud “Bloody hell!” coming from my husband, who was staring at our flat tire. The flying cement and now this? I kept my cool and told my son not to worry. Thank goodness it didn’t happen while we were driving on the freeway. And thank goodness it was a clean puncture, and we could probably just get the hole patched. We would call AAA and get it handled.

When the guy at the tire store told me that the puncture was on the tire wall and not the tread, and therefore couldn’t be patched, I worked hard to stay calm. “Oh well. Sometimes things like this happen,” I said out loud so my son and husband could hear. They didn’t hear when I then looked up at the tire guy and clearly mouthed, “What the F, dude!?” About 45 minutes later and after purchasing a new tire, we headed home.

“That sucked!” my 11-year-old boy said. “Yeah, that did suck,” I said, “but thank goodness nothing worse happened. The point is, we are all safe and healthy.” We drove most of the way home in silence. I was tired and trying not to think about the money spent on the car when I pulled a little too far right into the garage and pinned my son’s bike against the wall, dragging a dent down the side of the car, and also taking the paint off.

And then, I just lost my s***.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I screamed as I jumped out of the car and flailed my arms around in the air. I continued to rant while I did dramatic things like punch the air and cover my ears and then uncover them repeatedly. Upon hearing the ruckus from inside, my mother-in-law who was visiting from England came into the garage and asked what happened. “I just dented the EFFING car with the EFFING bike!” I screamed.

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My husband was saying, “Bloody hell," and my mother-in-law was saying, “Oh, dear." “And we got a flat tire!” I added. “Oh, and this morning it rained cement on my car!” I said dramatically. The bloody hells and oh dears crescendoed, and my son Evan started to cry. The chaos ensued for another 20 minutes.

Later that evening I told my son that as much as we all should be positive people, we have to be real with our emotions. We should generally look on the bright side of everything. But when three crappy things happen in a row, it’s OK to be pissed off. I probably shouldn’t have screamed the swear words the way I did, but I like to think that even June Cleaver belted out a “Mother effer” when she burned her dumb casserole. Yes, when s*** happens, it’s OK to be upset. Sure, there’s probably a lesson in it, but you’ll realize it later when you’re done punching the air. “That looked weird when you did that,” my son said. “But, it felt awesome,” I said. Punch the air and move on, I say. And so we spent the next five minutes left-hooking and uppercutting the hell out of the air. And it looked weird. But it felt amazing.

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