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Fighting The Good Fight

Today is my wife's birthday. Unfortunately she's not too happy about it. She, like many people, has taken stock over her past year and isn't happy. I don't frown on it. It's human nature.

Surprisingly, my Monday at work turned out to be a whole lot better than Monday at home. For the first time in over a week it didn't take ten years to get home and I picked up the baby on time from the sitter. Even though my wife didn't have her cellphone on her, I correctly guessed which commuter train she'd be on. My son was home from school, all we had to do was warm up dinner. I was set for a perfectly smooth evening.

Baby girl and I were excited to see the woman of the house when she came toward the car. Before I could plant a kiss on her I saw her face --- smeared with tears and bloodshot puffy eyes.

"What happened?" I asked, immediately thinking she got fired.

She insisted it was nothing even though it clearly was. After asking a few more times she told me how she blamed herself for everything wrong in our lives short of global warming. And then I broke a cardinal man rule: I attempted to make her feel better. I know this is a pointless venture, but I figure as her husband it's my obligation. And maybe, just maybe, this time it would work.

Of course, I was wrong. I was wrong for the way I hugged her. I was wrong for telling her not to beat herself up. I continued down the road of wrong until she walked out of the house still in tears, now with the additional woe I brought to her. I groaned and pushed my plate of food (it was dinnertime) away from me.

My daughter climbed into the chair next to me at the dinner table, asked where Mommy went and told me she wanted to eat. She put her hands together to pray (something she hasn't done in a while) and said, "Amen." I fed her and eventually ate my own vegetables. It was probably one of the quietest dinners I've had with her even with her leading the conversation.

The way I was raised (at least by my mother), we talked things out and never ever went to bed angry. Because of my mother, I probably emote more than the average guy, and definitely talk more than necessary at times (most times), but I don't regret this.

In fact, I don't have any true regrets except for one. When I first was attempting to settle down in New York and had to sleep in my car for two nights I was scared to death. During a stint of unemployment I went to the counter of McDonald's with barely enough change to buy a Quarter Pounder and a milkshake. I left the restaurant embarrassed, but before I could get to the corner I was laughing at the fact that I actually had the cohones to bring a bag of dimes and nickels (I used the quarters for my laundry) to Mickey D's. No matter what, I've always fought the odds, no matter how ridiculous, regretting none of it.

Over the course of my life I've been beaten many times, sometimes massacred. But I've never lost anything I set out to accomplish. Losing would mean I gave up and I've never given up. But as I sat there feeding my daughter, all I wanted to do was give up. In the quiet (my son was sleeping off football practice) I felt the weight of everything crushing me. For about the fourth time in close to four days I sat alone feeling like a terrible husband. I watched my daughter play with her food, being her usual goofy self and wondered where I dropped my happiness. I must've accidentally left it outside somewhere because it definitely wasn't in my home. How was work less stressful than being at home when I hate my job? WTF?

I joke a lot about the things that are wrong in my life, but the reality is that I'm thankful for everything I have. From my newly sullen son to my dinged-up, always-on-empty Rav4. Instead of curling up into a ball of self-pity, pissing away my night in front of the television I did the only thing I know how to. I did exactly what I didn't want to do --- I began to write. My wife returned from a long walk and by night's end we kissed and made up.

Isn't that the point of bad news, unexpected occurrences and outright mayhem? To keep you off center, unbalanced and out of your game? I have to fight the good fight in order to continue to live a life without regrets. I have to fight the good fight when it seems like everything (and sometimes everyone) is fighting against me. I have to fight the good fight like sprinters do when they're near the end of their races and feel like they're standing still.

When you want to quit, do the exact opposite. No matter what happens, you'll never lose.

What is your fight? Are you fighting it?

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