A woman was left heartbroken after her son banned her from his 16th birthday celebration for not giving him the gift he wanted. His grandfather decides to teach him a valuable lesson that forever changes his outlook on life.
Michael was the only son of his mother, Helen. She raised him alone ever since her husband died when Michael was only three years old.
Although they lived in a relatively wealthy neighborhood, Helen was not rich. She often changed jobs and spent most of her money on Michael and their daily expenses. He went to school in their neighborhood’s local public school, where the children who studied had wealthy parents.
Michael’s worst fear is being seen as an outsider by his peers. So instead of telling the truth about his humble upbringing, he boasted that his father was a photographer in Africa while his mother was a designer.
The truth was, Helen worked as a cleaning lady at a bar. Michael was so ashamed knowing this because he didn’t think of it as a job to be proud of.
On the day before his 16th birthday, Helen excitedly asked him if there was anything he wanted in particular as a gift.
“All my friends at school ride motorcycles. I want one too,” he said quickly.
Helen sighed. She knew she wouldn’t be able to get him a motorcycle, as she was struggling to get by. Instead, she decided to buy him a mug with his portrait riding a motorbike. It was all she could afford.
Helen excitedly entered her son’s room to give him her present the next day, and Michael grimaced at the sight of the small box.
“What is this? A motorcycle obviously can’t fit in it,” he said coldly as he untied the ribbon. He opened the box and tossed it on the bed as soon as he saw the mug inside.
“I’m sorry, Michael. I don’t have enough money to buy you a motorcycle right now. Look at this beautiful mug, though. It’s you riding a motorcycle! I thought it might serve as inspiration until you get your own,” she said, picking it up from the bed as she held it towards her son.
Helen embraced him and tried to kiss his cheek. “Happy birthday, son,” she told him. Michael pushed her away and stormed out of his room.
“This is the worst birthday ever! Don’t expect me to be home today. I’m having my party at grandpa’s, and you’re not invited!” he yelled, slamming the door behind him.
Michael initially wanted to invite his friends to his home, but since he was upset with his mother, he biked to his grandfather’s house. Michael’s grandfather lived nearby and was a photographer in the past.
“Happy birthday, Michael!” his grandfather, Graham, greeted him. “Why the long face?” he added after seeing him upset.
“I fought with mom. She dared to ask me what I wanted for my birthday, and she didn’t get me what I asked for anyway! She got me a MUG! What’s a 16-year-old going to do with a mug? So I banned her from celebrating with me and came here,” he complained.
His grandfather fell silent. He felt terrible that this was how Michael saw his mother, who loved him and cared for him all these years. “You can invite your friends over here. We can order food for all of you,” he said.
When Michael’s friends started to arrive, they were in awe at the walls lined with beautiful photographs from around the world. “Being a photographer runs in your family!” one of his friends said, remembering how Michael said his dad was a photographer in Africa.
He nervously nodded and gestured for them to move towards the garden where his grandfather set up an outdoor table for them to stay. Once they were settled down, Graham invited everyone to eat.
“Is everyone here? I hope you guys enjoy the party! I have a small gift for my boy Michael over here while you’re enjoying your food. I hope you like it,” he said, turning on the projector.
Michael and his friends’ eyes were glued to the projector screen, where pictures of Michael growing up started to flash. After showing solo photos of Michael as a baby, it slowly transitioned to pictures with his mother.
Graham had subtitles on each slide, showing what was happening in each photo – Mom reading a book to Michael, Mom holding a crying Michael in her arms at the hospital, Mom comforting Michael after a bad football game, etc.
Michael couldn’t hold back the tears. He ran to his grandfather and hugged him. Once he did, Graham said:
“Michael, your mother may not be wealthy and you might think she hasn’t given you anything, but the truth is, she gave you a lot of love, food, support, and hugs through the years.”
Michael nodded. “I know, grandpa. I’m sorry I didn’t see that. I was too blinded by what others had that I didn’t notice what I had – a loving mom who wiped my tears when I cried, took care of me every day, and comforted me whenever I was sick or upset,” he reflected.
Graham nodded and patted Michael on the back. “You know what to do. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.”
Michael turned to his friends and said he’d be right back. Graham turned on a movie for Michael’s friends through his projector while the birthday boy ran home to find his mom.
The 16-year-old felt ashamed for mistreating his mother and disrespecting her. Finding her alone on the kitchen counter drinking a cup of tea broke his heart even more, as he knew she was upset because of him.
“I’m so sorry, mom. I shouldn’t have walked out on you today,” he started. “Other children might have a lot of gifts, but I am very happy to have a present and supportive mom who showers me with lots of care, love, and kisses.”
Helen couldn’t help but cry. She pulled her son in for a hug, and they cried together. “I’m sorry I can’t give you a life of luxury, son, but mom tries her best. I hope you know that,” she said.
Michael nodded. “I live a life of luxury because you are my mom. I love you,” he said, tightening his grip before pulling away from their hug. “Now come on, we have a party to go to!”
That year, Michael was the happiest on his birthday. He was surrounded by the two people he loved the most – his mom and grandfather. To him, it was the best birthday ever.
What can we learn from this story?
Anyone who puts money over love will always live a poor life. Anyone who puts love over money will always be rich. Those who prioritize money over love will always search for more, thus living a poor life. Meanwhile, those who put love over money live content lives that allow them to be happy with what they have.
A mother’s love is priceless. Michael was fortunate enough to have a mother that cared for him deeply despite not having a lot in life. Helen’s love was a priceless gift that Michael eventually learned to treasure.
Share this story with your loved ones. It might inspire them and make their day.