The room was lit only by the flickering of the television screen as some nameless promoter tried to convince my wife and me that their diet would get us slim and trim in weeks. We just laughed as we munched down on our cardboard pizza and brown 'n' serve sausage links at 2 a.m. on a Saturday.
It's difficult to balance the roles of caring parent and loving spouse when dirty diapers and Sid the Science Kid tend to eclipse any romantic moments that might pop up. So there we were with all the kids asleep and taking a couple of hours for ourselves just talking and laughing at the lengths people will go through to sell me a Slap Chop.
I always thought it was funny when I would read books or articles about the importance of taking a day or so a month just for you and your spouse. They tell you, even if you can't afford it, you should get together and go out for a movie or dinner without the kids. I can't help but think that these people either do not have children or make enough money where they can hire babysitters willy-nilly. For the rest of us living on a shoestring budget and having several small children close in age, finding that day or two a month for getting away is like finding a needle in a football field-sized haystack.
Instead, we focus on the magical moments that we can steal away throughout the week and the weekend. They happen early in the morning before the kids wake up, they happen after dinner when the children run off into the living room, and they happen late evenings when the kids are asleep and we can garner enough energy to stay up for a few extra hours.
Some of these moments may only last a few minutes. Our eyes meet not as mom and dad, but as husband and wife. We give each other a kiss, hold hands as we put dishes away and/or talk about the movie we just watched and how much I loved it and she hated it. These moments are more important than an evening of overpriced food and an expensive movie. It's not about getting away, but connecting with the person you fell in love with.
Cardboard pizza and sausage links may not be romantic, but it's a late-night dinner that I will never forget. We finally went to bed around 4 a.m. after even the pitchmasters gave up hawking their wares. We were up only a few hours later with two of our children jumping into our bed like effervescent kangaroos, telling us to get up because it's daytime. Grudgingly, I opened my eyes and saw their smiling faces, and I couldn't help but smile back. I turned over to see my wife looking at me and smiling as well.
I guess magic moments can happen at any time.
Brock Cooper is a freelance writer who lives in Peru with his wife, Jessica, and three sons, Kyan, Jaxon and Devin.