Dikla Family

Recently, my husband and I made plans to go see a movie. For us, it was a momentous occasion. Like many couples with young kids and a tight budget, nights out alone are a rarity. The last time we’d gone to a movie, it cost us $85 for a baby-sitter, tickets and snacks. And I can’t even recall what movie we saw.

This time, we wanted to go see “This Is 40,” Judd Apatow’s brutally honest take on the mixed bag that is marriage with children. For my part, I wanted — no, needed — an evening away from my responsibilities at home, and I needed an opportunity to laugh at all the things that sometimes make married life frustrating, stressful, tedious or dull. I needed to be reminded that the same challenges exist in one form or another in every home, even in the home of a very successful, seems-to-have-it-all celebrity like Apatow.

And I needed to see those sappy movie moments where, despite all the aggravations, the on-screen couple realizes that it’s all worth it and they still love one another — a moment to take my husband’s hand in the theater and squeeze it as if to say, “I agree.”

But we never made it to the movie.

On Sunday, the day before New Year’s Eve, we rushed to feed, bathe and put the two boys to sleep before leaving them with my mother-in-law, who is visiting from Israel (free baby-sitting!). We literally ran out of the house a mere half hour before the movie was scheduled to start.

We circled the packed parking lot, frantically looking for a spot. Anxious not to miss the previews (my favorite part of going to see a movie), I told my husband to drop me off in front of the theater so I could buy the tickets while he continued the search.

As soon as I got to the theater and saw the huge crowd — and the SOLD OUT sign on every movie — I realized our mistake. Holiday weekend, the busiest weekend of the year, the biggest movie weekend of the year, and we thought we would slide in a few minutes before start time? What were we thinking?

We weren’t thinking. Which brings me to my point. When you’re married with children and struggling to build a life — financially, emotionally, mentally — you’re often so overwhelmed with getting from one frantic minute to the next that you end up missing some really obvious things … like, it’s New Year’s weekend, or it’s your anniversary, or you locked your purse in the car with your cell phone, your car keys and, oh, your two kids. (Yeah, that just happened to me. Thank God for people walking their dogs in the middle of the afternoon, and for the fire station two blocks away.)

Married life is riddled with broken plans and promises. When my husband and I got married, we envisioned a vivacious family with four kids. After the first one, I swore I would never have another. Recently — after the birth of our second precious, darling boy — my husband turned to me and said, “You think we’ll have a third? I never imagined I would say this, but I think I’m OK with two.”

We had planned to buy a house before we had kids; we’re still renting. We promised never to go to bed mad at the other, but some nights, sleep seems enormously more important than resolving an argument.

So, on the unsuccessful movie night, we trudged back to the car together, disappointed.

“Should we go home?” my husband asked.

“No way!” I said. “We have to do something — anything. We can’t waste this opportunity.”

We went to a nearby cafe and indulged in lattes and decadent desserts and had a really intimate, deep conversation about the trying times we’d faced this past year, and our hopes and aspirations for 2013.

And as the waiters stacked the chairs around us at closing time, I reached across the table and took my husband’s hand. Without a word, he understood what it meant. I love him, and it’s all worth it.