Dedicated to my husband, Jeff — the guy who makes everything possible.
At around midnight this past Christmas Eve, I walked into our freezing-cold garage and found my husband sitting in the middle of a ping pong table box that had been opened wide on the floor like a giant book. Jeff was literally surrounded by hundreds of small screws, nuts, bolts, hinges, and various other parts.
Santa had decided to give our kids a commercial-style table in hopes that it would last more than a few years. What Santa hadn’t fully understood is that such tables require a minimum of two dozen bodybuilders to move. Jeff and my teenage son — neither of whom will ever be (or even remotely resemble) bodybuilders — had already practically died hauling the bulkiest table parts upstairs to our game room.
Feeling a little guilty about ruining my son’s back, Jeff had decided to send him off to bed and tackle what remained of the ping pong table assembly (basically all of it) by himself.
From where I stood, Jeff was delusional; quite simply, the task was impossible. So I offered him an out: Santa could write an apology letter, the elves simply didn’t have time to assemble their new ping pong table. And that he’s very sorry and hopes they will understand and thanks for the yummy cookies.
Jeff declined, head bent over the instruction manual. When I checked on him two hours later, Jeff was far — and I mean super, super far — from being finished. Gently, I reminded him that Santa’s apology letter was still an option. Perhaps a little less gently, he declined.
I looked into Jeff’s tired, bloodshot eyes the next morning, seriously worried about how he and the ping pong table had fared. He saved me from having to ask by mumbling, “It’s done. I got to bed around six.”
Slack-jawed, I stared at Jeff. My faith in him is reasonably high, sure, but tackling that ping pong table job had seemed beyond crazy (and in my experience, faith doesn’t generally compensate for crazy). Jeff shrugged and said, “When you eliminate the impossible from the equation, just about anything becomes possible.”
After our day of fun, food and ping pong playing had ended (Jeff’s day ended a good deal earlier than the rest of ours, oddly), Jeff’s statement about eliminating the impossible came back to me.
Which got me thinking about Jeff, our marriage, and what’s truly possible.
A little over twenty years ago, approximately two days after returning from our honeymoon, Jeff and I were a bit shocked to realize that the honeymoon was indeed over. It became clear that we wouldn’t be finishing each other’s sentences — or sandwiches — any time soon.
Small issues loomed large during the first few years of marriage. Like who should empty the trash and where dirty clothes belong (in the hamper, I argued) and who should pay the bills and what kind of milk to buy (skim is nothing more than colored water, he argued).
In fact, it sometimes seemed as if it would be impossible to live — for years on end — with someone whose views on clutter and fat content differed so radically from mine.
But quitting wasn’t an option. So we slowly learned to work through issues that truly needed solving, trying not to waste mental energy on trivialities.
Once kids entered the equation, Jeff and I stepped into new and frightening realms of absolute impossibilities. But since giving the kids away seemed a bit extreme (until they turned 13), we are slowly working through the thousands of issues that need solving, trying not to waste mental energy on trivialities (like matching outfits, except for maybe on picture days).
As if raising kids weren’t impossible all on its own, we’ve experienced our share of rough: career setbacks, long-term injuries, hiccups in our marriage (far beyond skim versus two percent milk), and each of us losing a parent.
Life is mostly wonderful, but some circumstances appear impossible. Not one of our impossibilities, though, has actually been impossible. Outcomes often differ from what we hope for or anticipate, but there’s always possible.
I’m prone to despairing, imagining worst case scenarios, and asking pointless questions like, “Why is life so hard?” Jeff lets me cry on his shoulder, agrees that life can indeed suck — and then he shows me what it takes to make things happen.
He reads instructions manuals, sorts through hundreds of solutions until he finds the right one, stays up all night when necessary, and never takes easy outs. In short, quitting is never an option — because he has already eliminated the impossible.
With each passing year, I understand more fully how lucky I am to live — for years on end — with someone whose views on clutter and fat content still differ so radically from mine.
Because with Jeff by my side, just about anything is possible.
Susie Boyce is a mom, writer and public speaker based in Highland Village. Read her column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette, visit her website at www.seriousmomsense.com or her Facebook page, Writer Susie Boyce, or follow her on Twitter @Susie_Boyce.