By Anita Doberman: CNJ Columnist
I know that everything that happens in my life is easier if I have a positive attitude. On occasions, my oldest daughter, age seven, seems emotional and overwhelmed by some of her problems at school or on her sport team. (This is of course completely normal, but I thought that trying to show her that staying calm in difficult situations helps is more effective than constantly telling her to stay calm.)
My attempt at staying calm, composed and positive was tested this week, when I took my five angels to see a museum. We got ready early in the morning, got into our car and started for our 45 minute drive toward the museum.
The day was beautiful, everything seemed perfect, and even though I hadn’t talked to my husband in weeks, I know he is fine because he left a short message on my answering machine.
I was happy and content … until my mini-van stopped dead on the road, right before entering a bridge. I don’t know much about cars, but I couldn’t seem to resuscitate my vehicle. It was completely unresponsive and I quickly called road side assistance. Luckily, I was on the right lane of a two lane road, and I put my blinkers on, but I could quickly see angry drivers behind me wanting to pass and giving me dirty looks in the process.
I tried to turn my rear view mirror all the way around, so that I wouldn’t stare at the growing traffic jam I created, though through no fault of my own, but my children were getting antsy and started asking, then crying why the car wasn’t starting, why was everyone blowing their horns, and could I fix it quickly?
I felt pressured to do something, but was determined to stay positive and show my oldest daughter and the younger kids that even under pressure staying calm helps out. I suggested singing some songs to pass the time — the kids shot me down immediately. I have a terrible voice. I tried games, guess what animals I am thinking of, but the kids were getting restless.
Then, as I turned my head to the right I saw the back of a Starbucks’ coffee shop. Great! We could walk a few feet and sit inside while we waited for roadside assistance. What’s best, when I told the woman who was preparing the coffee that we were waiting for road side assistance she gave all five of my children mini vanilla hot milks. What a nice gesture!
This act of kindness made our little crisis so much easier to deal with, and I think our efforts to stay calm and positive also helped out and hopefully show my children that this is the best way to deal with unexpected emergencies.
My car will eventually be ok. Now, I need to focus on keeping a positive attitude when I get the bill form the shop, which will be astronomically high. Starbucks or not, I will keep trying. The road to becoming a better person, mom, wife and neighbor may be long, but I am not one to give up easily.
Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. Contact her at: