Linda had little time for her son as a single, working mother. Linda couldn’t break her little boy’s heart when he told her he had lost a tooth and would hide it under his pillow for the tooth fairy to leave him money in exchange. When she goes to his room to leave him money, she is surprised to find several bills tucked under his pillow. Linda was not cut out to be a housewife, and she would never become one, no matter how much pressure her husband put on her. So, even after years of marriage and two wonderful children, she never gave up her career.
Linda, or Mrs. Winterbottom to her coworkers, worked her tail off, putting in all those extra hours, and doing everything she could to prove herself worthy of the promotions and large paychecks her husband thought only men deserved. Mr. Winterbottom was tired of his marriage and his wife, who was far too ambitious for his tastes and the needs of their family. Darren was tired of filling in for Linda whenever she left for an important meeting or returned home late. He expected Linda to be there for him and their children, but she had other plans…
“I’ll be away for a conference later this week, so I guess you’ll have to come home early from work to look after the kids,” Linda said as she sat at the dinner table with Darren. She had already put the kids to bed. “I think you should let it go this time,” Darren suggested as he reached for the salad. “The kids require your assistance, and I’m working on a large project that requires me to work longer hours; if I handle it well, I may be promoted.”
“I didn’t ask you if I should go or not, Darren,” Linda stated emphatically as she sliced her steak. “My work is equally important, so we’ll have to work something out.” “A way out?” he demanded angrily, dropping his fork. “You want to hire a nanny and entrust our children’s care to a stranger, don’t you?” Linda ceased eating. “You have a better idea?” Darren lost his cool and stood up, pushing his chair back. “Why are you so arrogant, Linda? Will that bloody conference play such a pivotal role in your career that you’ll never have to worry about money again? No, right? So you’re staying home!” “Excuse me?” she retorted.
“Darren, you don’t get to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do! I’m going, and that’s the end of it!” “What is the—” “And,” she added as she rose to her feet. “I’ll be back in a week, just so you know!” Darren was enraged when Linda disappeared into the kitchen with her plate. Linda’s only focus had always been her career and ambitions, despite his wishes for her to become a housewife and focus on their family. ile Darren saw it as arrogance on his wife’s part, it was something she wanted to do for her children.
Linda came from a low-income family. She had seen some really tough and brutal days in her life while working her way through high school and college before landing a job in a private firm. She wanted to make so much money that her children would never miss out on anything. Darren never got it and insisted that it was a man’s responsibility to provide. As a result, Linda and Darren frequently argued about who deserved to work and who should have stayed at home.
Things got so bad that Darren decided to divorce Linda after she returned from her conference. Linda was hurt and would have tried to persuade Darren otherwise, but she knew he’d ask her to give up her career, which she didn’t want to do. So Linda and Darren sat the kids down one day and announced their divorce. “But why are we doing this?” their daughter inquired. “I mean, you guys don’t hate each other, do you?” Hollie, unlike her younger brother Max, was a teenager who wanted to know why their parents were divorcing.
Linda explained to Hollie that things were not going as well as she had hoped between her and Darren, so they decided to split up. Hollie sighed, rolling her eyes. “OK, whatever. But I’m staying with Dad because he’s cool, and honestly, Mom, it’s all your fault because you’re this overworked woman, so yeah, Dad’s right. You’re never there for us.” Linda’s heart dropped. Hollie had long despised her for being a working mother. “And what about you, Max?” Linda inquired. “Do you also want to stay with Daddy?”
“Umm, I—” “He’s coming with us, Mom!” Hollie interrupted Max. “He’s too young to know what’s best for him!” says the mother. “Let him talk, Hollie!” yelled Linda. “No! He won’t!” exclaimed Hollie. “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 allowed her daughter’s hatred to sink in. She never expected to argue with Hollie like that, but she couldn’t let her son go. Her daughter had already died A few weeks later, Darren and Linda appeared in family court with their children, and Judge Peterson granted Linda custody of Max after speaking with the children in their absence. Hollie would stay with Darren if she so desired.
Months had passed. Linda coped with her divorce by focusing on her work, and because she wasn’t always at home, she hired a nanny for Max. Linda hired Joyce right away after reviewing her profile because she was a sweet 50-something woman who claimed to have three grandchildren and adored children. Linda, on the other hand, began to feel that her life was not progressing as she had hoped. She’d always wanted to make decisions without Darren’s input and devote her entire time to her job.
But she was starting to miss her family. “Well,” Linda concluded after a brief pause. “Let the court decide; I’ll fight for Max’s custody, but you, Hollie—you can just go to your Dad’s because you hate me!” Linda craved Darren’s warm hugs on nights when she was overwhelmed, and she missed her daughter’s tantrums on weekends. Linda couldn’t tell Max much about her life because he was too young. But with Darren and Hollie, she could share so much that it put her heart at ease.
As time passed with only Max and Joyce in the house, Linda began to dislike everything. She was bored with her routine of going to work in the mornings and returning home late to work more. Weekends were also spent working. She simply wasn’t enjoying or living her life! Linda had hoped that hiring Joyce would cover for Darren’s absence by having him handle the housework while she was away. But it didn’t hide her ex-husband’s presence.
Linda felt so empty and lonely that she wondered if she’d made the right decision by abandoning her husband and daughter. Linda arrived home late from work one day. She sank onto the couch after dropping the car keys on the living room table. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath when she heard frantic footsteps on the stairs leading to Max’s room. Max’s voice appeared seconds later. “Mommy! Mommy, I’ve got to show you something!”
Max jumped onto the couch beside Linda, startling her awake. “Oh, darling!” exclaimed she. “You scared the hell out of me!” “Mommy, see!” Max exclaimed, widening his smile and revealing his missing tooth. Linda burst out laughing when he lost his front tooth. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “You look… I mean, Max! Your tooth…” “Mommy, I’ll keep it under my pillow because the tooth fairy will give me money!” he said, holding out his tiny palms to show her the tooth.
“But aren’t you supposed to be in your bed for that? Where is Joyce?” “I was going to sleep, Mommy, but I promised Joyce I’d show you the teeth and return.” “OK!” Linda exclaimed. “Now that you’ve shown it to me, how about you hurry up and get back to bed? Mommy’s a little tired, too.” “OK, Mommy! Good night!” Max exclaimed as he dashed upstairs to his room. Linda sank back into the couch and closed her eyes once more. She even laughed at Max’s belief that the tooth fairy would leave him money.
“Well, I guess I’ll have to become the tooth fairy tonight,” she thought to herself. “At least Max is content to stay with me; I can’t break his heart…” Linda decided to leave some money under her son’s pillow that night. She ate dinner, then worked on her laptop until Max fell asleep so she could leave the money in his room. Linda, on the other hand, was so tired that night that she dozed off on the couch. When she awoke, it was after midnight.
Linda reasoned that it wasn’t too late to leave the money and went to Max’s room. Linda was surprised to discover money under his pillow as she approached his bed. “Is my mind playing tricks on me?” she wondered, kneeling beside Max. She carefully counted the bills protruding from his pillow. “Who would keep so much money here? Was it Joyce? Oh, this woman!” Linda deduced that the money had been hidden under Max’s pillow by the nanny.
She didn’t want the poor old lady to give Max so much money, so she went to Joyce’s room to return it, only to find the old lady awake. “Joyce, you should take it back; it’s fine,” she advised. “I know Max told you about the tooth fairy and money, but it’s okay; I’ll handle it.” Joyce was perplexed. “I…I didn’t keep any money there, Mrs. Winterbottom!”
“You didn’t?” Linda inquired. “Oh, Joyce, tell me you’re lying because I found $200!” “Oh, Joyce, tell me you’re lying because I found $200!” Joyce assured Linda that she had not kept the money. Linda returned to Max’s room and roused him. Then she looked beneath his pillow and discovered his missing tooth!”Max?” she inquired. “Did anyone enter your room, or did you tell anyone about your tooth, other than Joyce and me?”
The little boy shook his head, rubbing his eyes. “No, Mommy, but,” he explained, “I told Daddy. Did the tooth fairy come?” Max excitedly lifted his pillow and frowned when he didn’t find any money there. “Did she not give me money, Mommy?” he wondered, noticing no money under his pillow. “Well, um,” Linda mumbled. “She—she did come with the money, and I dropped it in your piggy bank!”
“Really?” Max exclaimed. “Thank you, Mommy!” Max fell asleep again, and Linda stormed into the living room, furious. She assumed Darren had crept in through Max’s bedroom window, leaving the money and pretending to be a better parent than she was! She called him right away, but he said he was at work and had just returned home an hour before. “Don’t you dare tell a lie, Darren!” she exclaimed. “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 correct. He had visitation rights, so he could pay Max a visit. Linda was now concerned that a stranger had broken into their home. So she started reading blogs online about what to do in such situations. Some websites suggested installing CCTV cameras everywhere, but this would take a long time.
So when Linda saw an alarm that sounded like a siren when an intruder broke in through the house’s doors and windows, she purchased it right away. She installed it in all rooms the next day and waited for the intruder to be caught red-handed. But everything was calm for a few days. She didn’t notice anything unusual going on around her house. Then, a few weeks later, Max informed her that he’d lost another tooth! Linda had a feeling it was Darren who had left the money the previous time.
Perhaps he was awakened by her phone call. So she requested that Max contact her regarding the broken tooth. And Max did. Linda was prepared to catch Darren in the act. She tried everything she could not to fall asleep that night, and at one point, the alarm went off! Linda heard the siren from Max’s room and dashed upstairs, only to be surprised! Her ex-husband had not broken into their son’s room. Hollie was the one.
“What a creepy thing!” she yelled above the din. “Turn it off, Mom!” “What are you doing here?” Linda inquired as she turned off the alarm. The noise startled Max awake, and he sat perplexed on his bed. “Hollie? What are you doing here?” “Mom, come on out to the living room! We need to talk!” Linda followed Hollie outside after she left Max’s room. “Go to sleep, baby,” Linda said as she walked away.
“So it was you who left the money for Max?” Linda inquired. “Yeah,” Hollie confirmed. “And why wouldn’t I, Mom? I love him and miss him! Mom, I know you don’t care about his happiness! When I was Max’s age, you constantly made me read all those science and math books because you said I’d grow up smart and everything.”But Mom, I grew up unhappy, depressed, and never had a happy childhood! Why? Because you and your father were always arguing or working! And I’d have to read those dull books! I didn’t want Max to go through the same thing, so I read him fairy tales like any other child his age!
“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, and he would be if he didn’t find any money, so I left that money for him. “Where did you get so much, though? “I saved up. My pocket money.” Linda was both hurt and embarrassed by her daughter’s words. She was working hard to give her children the best of everything. She’d never intended to drive her children apart, but she’d done so in her haste to advance her career.
Linda had been a bad mother who had given her children money but not love. Max was standing on the stairs, listening to everything, Linda noticed. “So Santa Claus and the fairies aren’t real?” he sobbed. Hollie approached Max and scooped him up. “Oh, no, little champ, they are! I told Mom that I left Max money because I wanted the tooth fairy to know that I love my brother just as much as the fairy loves children with broken teeth!” “Really? I thought they were not real!”
Max sobbed as he hugged his sister, and witnessing that moment made Linda realize that nothing was more important than her children’s happiness. Linda threw Hollie a birthday party and promised to do her best to become a better mother. “I can’t go back in time and fix your childhood, Hollie,” she admitted. “But I can try to make things better for us in the future.” Darren was relieved to see Linda soften for the sake of their children, while Hollie said she’d need some time to accept her. Linda sank onto the couch beside Darren as everyone left the party, her eyes heavy.
Linda was so tired by the end of the day that she fell asleep on Darren’s shoulder. The sun was up in the sky when she awoke. Linda felt like she was falling in love with her ex-husband all over again when she noticed the sun’s rays gently caressing his face. Linda softly kissed Darren on the cheeks and promised herself that she would reunite their family. Linda quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom after Darren announced his big promotion a week later. Not only that, but Linda and Darren decided to remarry, this time with special guests—Hollie served as the flower girl, and Max was the cutest best man.