A mother is torn apart when she comes home and realizes her son doesn’t recognize her anymore. But there’s more to it than meets the eye, and reality hits her hard when the truth is revealed.
Do you believe in fairy tales? Emily didn’t until she met John at the Brooklyn cafe she worked at. She’d been her usual self that day: her hair tied in a messy bun, a coffee-stained apron around her waist, ringing up orders and serving coffee and croissants.
Then he walked up to the counter and requested a caramel latte, and as she placed the cup in front of him, he slipped a tissue toward her. There was a message on it that said:
“I’ve been coming here every day just to see you. I think you’re gorgeous, and I’d love to take you out for dinner, Emily. Pick you up after your shift at 8 tonight?”
Emily knew he was a regular there, and her cheeks grew pink as she read the note. She smiled as she nodded and slipped the tissue inside her jeans’ back pocket. The next morning, she awoke in his arms in his apartment, and the rest was history.
Emily and John were poles apart when it came to their background. John was a businessman, carrying forward the legacy of his grandfather and father, and Emily’s world was so naive and simple and, in a way, sad and lonely.
Her father had died, her mother was ill, and she was a college dropout saving up for her dream destination—Los Angeles.
A person who loves you will appreciate you for who you are and not only for your appearance.
Emily came from a humble background but had always dreamed big. She was waiting to reach LA and try her hands at modeling. If it didn’t work out, she’d pack her bags and return to Brooklyn and tell everyone she had been away for a holiday. But everything changed after John came into her life.
After meeting him, Emily’s dreams lost their significance. John was rich and showered her with the best of everything. She visited the spas and salons every week, and the Emily with the messy bun and ripped sneakers were long gone. She now donned branded outfits, carried expensive purses, and sported fancy stilettos.
Soon, he went down on one knee and proposed to her with an 18-carat diamond ring, and she gasped and said, “Yes! Yes! I will marry you!”
They had a barefoot beach wedding in Emily’s once-dreamed vacation spot in LA, followed by a honeymoon at one of the most luxurious resorts. When they returned to Brooklyn after the honeymoon, Emily realized she was pregnant.
“Honey,” she said anxiously to John. “I… I’m pregnant, and I have no idea what to do!”
“You are?” John asked excitedly. “OMG, babe, I’m so happy! We’re gonna be parents! Oh, Emily, I can’t wait to hold that baby!”
Emily was nervous. “I don’t know if I’m ready, John,” she said quietly. “What if I don’t have maternal instincts? What if I can’t be a good mother?”
“Hey, hey, don’t say that!” John hugged her and assured her that she would become the best mother in the world, even joking that she would enjoy the nine months of motherhood so much that they would end up with a little tribe of children in the near future.
Emily smiled because John was happy and decided to keep the pregnancy. Nine months later, when she held the little life in her arms and felt his heartbeat, she cried and realized John was right.
“He’s lovely, babe,” she said, tears running down her cheeks. “He’s just perfect!”
“Like his mother,” John had said. “We’re finally parents, Emily, and you’re the most beautiful mother our son could ever have. Joel,” he then said. “John + Emily. We’ll call him Joel!”
As John had said, Emily did become a wonderful mother. She loved Joel more than anything, and when John suggested he wasn’t in favor of hiring a nanny, she gladly left everything behind to become a stay-at-home mom.
But when Joel was three, things started changing. Emily was missing her old life. Not the Brooklyn cafe with the aroma of croissants, coffee, and baked goods. She was missing the social life she had become accustomed to since marrying John.
When she first married him, Emily was a modest girl who aspired for big things in life. Then John let her into an unknown world where she dined at fancy restaurants, wore designer dresses, drank only the most premium wine, and socialized with billionaire wives.
After becoming a mother, she no longer did any of that. And she no longer looked pretty either. Her belly was sagging, and she had stretch marks from the pregnancy. She gorged herself on cheeseburgers and cold drinks, and she and John rarely made love.
At that point, Emily imagined everything she shouldn’t have. She imagined John bringing a gorgeous woman home, brazenly confessing their affair, losing Joel, and returning to her old life at the Brooklyn cafe.
No, Emily’s mind protested. She wasn’t going to let that happen. She had to go out and be the rich, attractive, and beautiful Emily again. So she called her mother and begged her to move in with them and care for Joel.
“Mum, please,” Emily begged. “I don’t trust a stranger with Joel, and John would hate it too.”
“But hun,” her mother, Rosaline, argued. “You know my health isn’t in the best shape, and it would be a great responsibility, Emily. I really won’t be able to do this.”
But Emily talked Rosaline into moving in with them, saying she would have the house helpers for assistance and that Joel would love her company.
Rosaline couldn’t argue much. She gave in and moved in with her daughter. John didn’t mind it. He never minded anything, after all. He was too preoccupied even to notice what was brewing in Emily’s mind.
Once Rosaline was well settled, Emily returned to her frivolous life. She was partying, drinking, and hanging out with the rich wives once again. She was also going to the gym and working out to get back into shape.
She’d gotten rid of the sweatpants she’d been wearing all day at home and was back to wearing fancy dresses and expensive perfumes. “You smell great, babe!” John complimented her as he held her in his arms one night. That night, they made love.
Emily was beaming after just a few days of the new changes in her life, and her friends, Cassandra and Alice, were quick to notice that. “You are glowing, hun! What’s the matter?” they eagerly asked as they gathered for lunch one day.
Emily was delighted. “Oh, it’s this life I’m living right now!” she chirped, leaning back into her chair. “Motherhood was really taking a toll on me, guys. Can you imagine being in a jumper all day long and doing the house chores?”
“No way!” Cassandra cried, rolling her eyes. “You know, I’d made it very clear to my husband that I’m returning to the gym as soon as I could after popping our baby out. And, well, he couldn’t argue with that…”
“Christ, let’s not go there,” Alice chimed in. “I was depressed for weeks after giving birth! I missed my friends and these experiences… Going out, having fun, and now my husband and I use protection every time so that we don’t end up with another child! Motherhood is not for me.”
Cassandra smirked. “By the way, Alice, haven’t you been too busy booking your cosmetic treatments?”
Alice waved her hand dismissively. “Oh, come on! It’s nothing!”
“What are you guys talking about?” Emily asked. “Is there anything I’m missing?”
“Come on, Cassandra! Babe, it’s really nothing,” Alice told Emily. “There’s this doctor one of my friends introduced me to, and he’s amazing! I’m getting some procedures done… Getting my breasts bigger, and I really want thin lips. I just don’t like how I look, so yeah, that’s that.”
“WOW!” Emily gasped. “Really?”
“Yep,” Alice said with a wink. “It’s going to be a surprise for my hubby.”
Emily was sure she would never get those procedures done because she loved the way she looked, but months later, when she saw how different and amazing Alice looked, she had an insane idea of trying it.
She booked an appointment with the doctor Alice’s friend had suggested and decided to go for breast augmentation. Emily considered herself pretty, but she also considered herself flat-chested, hence the cosmetic treatment.
However, when Rosaline discovered the doctor’s brochure in Emily’s room and learned what Emily was up to, she was shocked. “It’ll look fake!” she admitted bluntly. “You’re beautiful just the way you are, Emily!”
But Emily rolled her eyes and dismissed her mother. “Come on, Mum! When was the last time a man looked at you? You practically stopped dating after Dad died! I don’t want my husband to cheat on me because he thinks I’m not pretty enough! I’m just going to be a better version of myself!”
“I brought you into this world, Emily, and as a mother, I’d still advise you to think this through. Anyhow, honey, those things would require constant injections, and Lord knows what else.”
“I think I might just get my cheekbones and nose done, too!” Emily answered, looking at herself in the mirror. She flatly ignored a pale white Rosaline, shocked at her suggestion of getting cosmetic surgeries done.
Rosaline also tried telling John about it in the hope he would convince Emily otherwise, but he was too preoccupied with his work to care. “Ah, it’s alright, Mom,” he said. “Emily is not a child. I can’t tell her what to do and what not to do. It’s going to be fine. I’m OK with it.”
John was in a rush that day and left for the business trip without noting the horror in Rosaline’s eyes. Days later, Emily underwent the first part of the treatment and looked horrible. Blue bruises and bandages marked her eyes, her face was scarlet and swollen, and her skin bore scars, making her look terrible.
But after being discharged, when Emily returned home, she was really happy. Just a little more time and I’ll look perfect, she thought. She parked her car in the driveway, grabbed her things, and got out of the car. When she entered her house, she saw Joel playing with his toys and realized how much she had missed him.
“Hi, baby!” she squealed, dropping the keys in the bowl by the front door shelf. “I missed you!”
But as she approached Joel, he ran away from her. “You, not Mommy!” he cried. “Granny!”
Emily didn’t understand what was going on.
“Oh, dear!” Rosaline gasped as she came to the living room. “I advised you against those procedures, Emily! No wonder Joel is scared!”
“Mom!” Emily snapped. “How can he not recognize me!? I don’t look that different!”
Joel, who was hiding behind Rosaline, peered at Emily and said, “You… not Mommy! Mommy was beautiful!”
Emily’s heart was broken when Joel said that. “Oh! Well, maybe it’s the after-effects of the surgeries,” she said, holding back her tears. “It’ll be fine. I’m your mommy, Joel. And I’ll become more beautiful. Just some more time…”
But nothing changed. Time passed, and Emily’s bruises disappeared, but Joel didn’t recognize her.
Emily was crushed. She sang him lullabies she used to sing to him as a child, bribed him with his favorite pancakes and cookies, and told him about the times they had spent together, but it was all for naught. Joel just didn’t recognize her anymore.
Emily now regretted the procedures she had undergone. She wanted to get them done so she wouldn’t lose John and Joel, but Joel had already pushed her away. But there was something Emily wasn’t aware of.
One day, she was sitting in her armchair on the back porch and reading a book when Joel dashed up to her with a flower from their garden. “Mommy! This for you!” he chirped, and Emily was overjoyed. “Oh! Thank you, darling—” she began, then paused.
“Wait! You called me Mommy! Joel! Do you remember who I am now?”
“Oops!” Joel pressed his palms on his lips. “Granny… she said we were playing a game!”
“What game, Joel?” Emily asked angrily. Joel then revealed the truth, which shocked Emily to the core.
He said Rosaline had asked him to pretend he didn’t know Emily from the minute she got home from the doctor’s clinic. Every day Joel did that, Rosaline bought him a new toy. Joel said the game was fun and that he wanted to continue playing it, so he stopped calling her Mommy.
Emily was furious and confronted Rosaline. “Really, Mom?” she snarled. “You made my son lie to me? Joel told me everything about your ridiculous game!”
“Well, honey,” Rosaline said. “I did that! Yes, I did… so you don’t go for any other ridiculous procedures! Those things are dangerous, and I didn’t want you to lose your natural beauty. You’re already beautiful, honey!”
Emily lashed out at Rosaline, defending herself by saying that she wanted to look more beautiful for John until a voice from behind said, “I agree with Mom, Emily!”
John was home from the business trip, and he couldn’t believe Emily had undergone plastic surgery. He said he loved her and would always do so because of her honesty, kindness, and humility, and for the woman she was. Not for some ridiculous cosmetic procedures!
“You’re beautiful the way you are, Emily!” he said. “And I never want you to change.”
That day, Emily realized she had over-thought things and gone too far. She decided to cancel all her further appointments and stopped blindly following what her other friends did. Rosaline admitted she was wrong to involve Joel in this, but in the end, it all worked out for the best.
What can we learn from this story?
A person who loves you will appreciate you for who you are and not only for your appearance. John was always in love with Emily’s personality, and his feelings for her never changed.
Sometimes it takes a loss to appreciate what you have. Please appreciate your body the way it is. Emily understood how pointless the cosmetic surgeries were when John explained he loved her for her heart and not just her appearance, and she almost lost Joel.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.