Linda, a single mother who worked full-time, had very little time to spend with her son. One day, when her little boy excitedly told her that he had lost his tooth and planned to put it under his pillow for the tooth fairy to leave him some money, Linda couldn’t bring herself to disappoint him. She went to his room to leave him some money and was surprised to find that there were already several bills tucked under his pillow.
Linda was determined not to become a homemaker and stood her ground, despite her husband’s pressure. She remained committed to her career even after years of marriage and raising two wonderful children.
Linda, known as Mrs. Winterbottom among her colleagues, worked tirelessly, putting in overtime hours and doing everything in her power to prove herself deserving of promotions and high salaries that her husband believed only men should have. However, Mr. Winterbottom became frustrated with his marriage and his wife’s ambitious nature, which he felt was excessive and didn’t meet the needs of their family. Darren was tired of having to take care of the children whenever Linda had to attend a crucial meeting or came back home late. He desired for her to be present for him and their kids, but Linda had different aspirations…
At the dinner table, Linda informed Darren that she would be attending a conference later that week and that he would have to leave work early to take care of the kids. The children had already been put to bed.
“I think you should let it go this time,” Darren said, reaching for the salad. “The kids need you. And I’m working on a big project, which requires me to work longer hours. If I handle it well, I might get a promotion.”
“I didn’t ask you if I should go or not, Darren,” Linda flatly said, slicing her steak. “My work is equally important, so we’ll have to figure a way out.”
“A way out?” he asked furiously, dropping his fork. “You want to hire a nanny, don’t you? And entrust our children’s care to a stranger?”
Linda stopped eating. “You have a better idea?”
Darren became angry and abruptly stood up, pushing his chair back. “Why are you so stubborn, Linda?” he exclaimed. “Is that conference so important to your career that you’ll never have to worry about money again? Of course not. So you need to stay home!”
“Excuse me?” she retorted. “Darren, you don’t get to tell me what to do and what not to do! I’m going, and that’s final!”
“And,” she added, rising to her feet. “I’ll be back after a week, for your information!”
After Linda took her plate and left the table, Darren was seething with anger. He had always hoped that Linda would prioritize their family over her career, but Linda had always been focused on achieving her professional goals.
Despite Darren’s view that Linda was being arrogant, for Linda, her career was a way to provide for her children. Linda came from a modest background and had faced numerous challenges while working her way through high school and college before securing a position in a private firm.
So she wanted to make so much money that her kids would never miss out on anything. Darren never understood that and insisted it was a man’s role to provide. So over time, Linda and Darren often argued about who deserved to work and who should’ve stayed home.
Things escalated so terribly that after Linda returned from her conference, Darren decided to divorce her. Linda was hurt and would have tried to convince Darren otherwise, but she knew he’d ask her to give up her career, which she didn’t want to.
So Linda and Darren sat the kids down one day and told them they were parting ways.
“But why are we doing this? I mean, you guys don’t hate each other, do you?” their daughter asked. Hollie was a teenager, unlike her younger brother Max, and she wanted to know the real reason why their parents were splitting up.
Linda explained to Hollie that things were not working out between her and Darren the way she’d thought they would, so they decided it was best to separate.
Hollie sighed and rolled her eyes. “OK, whatever. But I’m staying with Dad. He’s cool. And honestly, Mom, it’s all your fault. You’re this too-much-into-work woman, so yeah, Dad’s right. You’re never there for us.”
Linda’s heart dropped. How long had Hollie hated her for being a working mother? “And what about you, Max?” asked Linda. “Do you also want to stay with Daddy?”
“He’s coming with us, Mom!” Hollie cut Max off. “He’s too young to know what’s best for him!”
“Let him talk, Hollie!” Linda yelled.
“No! He won’t!” Hollie cried. “I won’t let you tear our family apart! You’ve already done us enough harm, Mom! I wanted a complete family! But look what you’re doing! You’re making us choose between you and Dad! All because of your stupid job!”
“DON’T FORGET YOU’RE TALKING TO YOUR MOTHER, HOLLIE!”
“Whatever, Mom! Max will stay with me!”
Linda closed her eyes and let the hatred in her daughter’s heart sink in. She had never thought she’d argue with Hollie like that, but she couldn’t just let her son go. She had already lost her daughter.
“Well,” Linda said after a pause. “Let the court decide that. I’ll fight for Max’s custody, but you, Hollie—you can just go to your Dad’s since you hate me!”
A few weeks later, Darren and Linda appeared in the family court with their children, and Judge Peterson gave Max’s custody to Linda after talking to the children in the absence of their parents. As Hollie wanted, she would stay with Darren.
Months passed. Linda got over the divorce by throwing herself into work, and since she wasn’t always home, she hired a nanny for Max. Joyce was a sweet 50-something woman who claimed to have three grandchildren and adored kids, so Linda hired her right away after reviewing her profile.
However, after some time, Linda began to feel that her life was not going as she had hoped. She’d always wanted to make decisions without Darren’s interference and dedicate all her time to her job. But she had started missing her family now.
Linda longed for Darren’s comforting hugs when she felt overwhelmed, and she missed her daughter’s weekend tantrums. With Max being too young, Linda couldn’t share much with him. However, with Darren and Hollie, she could share her heart’s contents.
As time went by, Linda started hating everything about her life. Her routine of going to work in the mornings and working late into the night, even on weekends, had become monotonous. She felt unhappy and unfulfilled.
Linda had hoped that hiring Joyce would fill the void left by Darren’s absence and help with household chores. But it didn’t make up for the absence of her ex-husband. She felt empty and lonely, wondering if she had made the right choice in letting him and their daughter go.
One day, after returning late from work, Linda collapsed onto the couch, exhausted. As she closed her eyes, she heard Max running down the stairs and bursting into the room, eager to show her something.
“Mommy, look!” Max exclaimed, grinning widely and revealing his missing front tooth. He looked so adorable that Linda burst out laughing.
Linda laughed at Max’s excitement about the tooth fairy and took a deep breath before closing her eyes again. She felt relieved that Max was happy to be with her. She couldn’t bear to disappoint him and knew she had to become the tooth fairy that night.
That night, Linda decided to leave some money under her son’s pillow. She had dinner, then got busy working on her laptop and waited until Max was asleep so she could leave the money in his room.
But Linda was so tired that night that she dozed off on the couch. When she woke up, she saw it was past midnight. Linda thought it wasn’t too late to leave the money, so she went to Max’s room. Approaching his bed, Linda was shocked to find money under his pillow!
“Is my mind playing tricks on me?” she wondered as she knelt by Max’s side. She plucked the bills jutting out from his pillow and counted them carefully.
“Who would keep so much money here? Was it Joyce? Oh, this woman!”
Linda assumed that the nanny had left the money under Max’s pillow, so she went to Joyce’s room to return it. However, she found Joyce awake and explained that she didn’t want the older woman to spend so much money on Max. But Joyce denied putting the money there and seemed confused.
Linda was surprised and said, “You didn’t? I found $200 under Max’s pillow, and it’s not a small amount. Please take it back.”
Joyce assured Linda she wasn’t the one who had kept the money. Linda went back to Max’s room and woke him up. Then she looked beneath his pillow and found his tooth missing!
“Max?” she asked. “Did someone come into your room? Or did you tell anyone about your tooth, um, other than Joyce and me?”
Rubbing his eyes, the little boy shook his head. “No, Mommy, but,” he said, “I told Daddy. Did the tooth fairy come?”
Max lifted his pillow excitedly and frowned when he didn’t find any money there. “Did she not give me money, Mommy?” he asked sadly, noticing no cash under his pillow.
“Well, um,” Linda stammered. “She—she did come with the money, and I dropped it in your piggy bank!”
“Really?” Max asked happily. “Thank you, Mommy!”
Max went back to sleep, and Linda stormed into the living room, enraged. She assumed Darren had sneaked in via Max’s bedroom window to leave the money and pretend to be a better parent than she was! She immediately called him, but he said he was at work and had returned home just an hour ago.
“Don’t you dare lie, Darren!” she said. “I know it was you!”
“I don’t need to lie to you, Linda! I could’ve just come over if I wanted to give Max the money!”
Darren was indeed entitled to visit Max, and this made Linda anxious that a stranger might have entered their home. To prepare for such an incident, she searched for advice online and found some blogs that suggested different solutions. While some websites recommended installing security cameras, Linda thought that would be a lengthy process.
Eventually, she found an alarm that made a loud siren-like noise when someone entered the house through the doors or windows, and she purchased it immediately. The following day, she set it up in every room and waited for the potential intruder to trigger the alarm.
Despite Linda’s suspicions, she didn’t notice anything unusual happening around her house for days. However, weeks later, Max informed her that he had lost another tooth. Linda again suspected that Darren had left the money the last time and asked Max to call him about the missing tooth. She was prepared to catch Darren in the act.
Linda was determined to stay awake that night and waited eagerly for the alarm to go off. Suddenly, she heard the sound of the siren coming from Max’s room and rushed upstairs, only to be shocked. It wasn’t her ex-husband who had broken into their son’s room.
Hollie was the one who had entered Max’s room and triggered the alarm. Linda was surprised to see her and turned off the siren. Max was awoken by the noise and sat confused in his bed. Hollie demanded that Linda go to the living room for a talk. Linda told Max to go back to sleep before following Hollie out of the room.
Linda asked Hollie if she was the one who left the money for Max. Hollie confirmed it and expressed her love for Max and how much she missed him. She accused Linda of not caring about Max’s happiness and shared her own experience of being forced to read science and math books when she was Max’s age.
“But Mom, I grew up miserable, depressed, and never had a happy childhood! Why? Because you and Dad were constantly arguing or working! And I’d be stuck with those boring books! I didn’t want Max to go through the same, so I read him fairy tales, as a child his age should!
“I know I can’t get all that money for him like you, Mom! But I can give my brother a happy childhood. I didn’t want him to be upset. If he didn’t find any money, he would be. So I left that money for him.”
“Where did you get so much, though?”
“I saved up. My pocket money.”
Linda was hurt but mainly embarrassed by her daughter’s words. She was working to provide her children with the best of everything. She’d never intended to drive her kids apart, but in her haste to further her career, she had done so.
Linda had been a terrible mother who had provided her children with money but not love.
Linda noticed Max was standing on the stairs, listening to everything. “So Santa Claus and the fairies are not real?” he asked in tears.
Hollie picked up Max and said, “Oh, little champ, they are real! I told Mom that I gave you money because I wanted the tooth fairy to know that I love my brother just as much as the fairy loves kids with broken teeth!”
Max, surprised, asked, “Really? I thought they were not real!”
Moved by the moment, Linda realized that her children’s happiness was the most important thing. She decided to make things right and threw Hollie a birthday party, promising to be a better mother in the future.
“I can’t change the past, Hollie, but I will do my best to make things better for us in the future,” Linda said.
After the party, Darren was glad to see that Linda had softened for the sake of their children, but Hollie needed some time to accept her. At the end of the day, Linda was so exhausted that she fell asleep on Darren’s shoulder. When she woke up, she saw the sun’s rays softly shining on Darren’s face and felt like she was falling in love with him all over again.
Linda kissed Darren’s cheek and promised herself that she would bring their family back together. A week later, Darren shared that he had received a big promotion, so Linda quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom. Moreover, they decided to get married again with special guests; Hollie was the flower girl, and Max was the adorable best man.