Kimmy in New York City

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I’m standing on a subway platform in the sweltering heat of August. I managed to make it to the platform itself by following my 16-year-old daughter Kimmy. It was the relaxed little teen who effortlessly bought the metro card, found the right train line, and got me unstuck five times from the turnstile.

It was her first morning in New York.

Behind me was her 13-year-old baby sister, Bonnie, who joined us on the trip. Kimmy took us to New York to check out colleges.  Bonnie came just in case she might want to go to college there at some future dates. We called it a “two-for-one” trip.

“I would never live here!” Bonnie informs us, as the three of us waited, sweating off our lip-gloss. Finally, a train rumbled to a stop and we boarded along with 1, 548 other complete strangers. We smooshed together and held onto a pole while the train lurched out of the station.

“Kimmy, do you know where we are going?”

“Relax, Mom. I got this. I planned the day to see three colleges. I have a couple of appointments set up and a couple more I just want to feel out.”

And off we went. I followed Kimmy and Boon followed me. I was proud, astonished, and grateful. My fearless pup. We went to Pace College and that felt too closed, Marymount felt too expensive, NYU felt too big, but Hunter felt just right.

So back home we went and her senior year flew by and she applied to the college. On the morning of her high school graduation she still had not heard of her college acceptance. We were trying to act nonchalant but we were very anxious. I called the college and found out they had misplaced her application and they would let her start in the winter semester.

How would I tell this wonderful, dream-filled child this news? She was the salutatorian of her class and was giving the class an inspirational speech that night ending with Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! .

We sat down. I broke the news. She took it in.

“Can I still move to New York and have a gap semester?”

“Sure”, I said. “That’s sounds like even more fun!”

She researched apartments online and found a studio with a young girl for $400/month. She Googled a furniture store across the street to buy a mattress and a dresser she could carry across. She booked a one-way ticket. She made her resume with my help including her vast experience at the local video store. She packed her boxes and took them to UPS. She saved up fifteen hundred dollars and I matched her dollar for dollar.

I told her I couldn’t support her living in New York and she would have to find a way. I gave her thirty days to find a job. The last day before she left she sat in my lap (she calls herself my pup still curls up and cuddles). She told me not to worry. “I can do this mom. You’ve given me a good foundation. I’m not scared and I just know it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

She settled in and started daily walks with eighty copies of her resume. She went door to door to anywhere that looked inviting; restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops. She ran out and made another fifty copies. She called on Day 28 very discouraged and crying. I was sitting in my car. I had just pulled up outside my office. She had tried so hard and I didn’t want to make her come home.  Was I crazy? Did I follow her into some crazy unattainable dream? My little girl was alone in New York City and on the verge of thinking that dreaming big was a Bad Idea.

“Kimmy, let’s take a breath here. It’s a treasure hunt okay?  Your job is waiting for you. You are very close.”

“Mom, I only have 2 more days till the 30 day deadline.”

“Well, then make it happen. What’s your strategy?”

“I think I’ll walk Times Square one more time.”

“Okay, call me when you find your job.”

The next day she called. “I found it!!! I have a job at the Cosi Café as a barista in Times Square.”

My pup, my cub. As a mom I look back and feel like it was a close call. Was it right for me to set her up to dream like that? What if she didn’t find a job? What if the cash dried up with her dreams?

What if?

What if?

What if she had never tried?

I’ll tell you what.

If she had never tried she would have graduated magna cum laude with a degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Art History.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art would not feel like her backyard.

And she would not have learned how to open a business, hire, and manage all the employees, build a website, manage social media, manage corporate deliveries, be on television, frost a cupcake with panache, or quantum leap to become a one of the most followed senior reporters at Insider, a new division of Business Insider on 5th Avenue in New York City.

All at the ripe old age of 26.

Maureen McElroy
Mo has secret parent diaries and stashing away thousands of lessons and experiences raising three daughters. Since they are college graduates, married with great guys, and are superb human beings she felt it was safe to call herself an expert, a successful mother or someone who may be worth listening to. Mo says, “If I can save one night’s sleep, one argument, one sneak out, or moment of insecurity, or increase the number of hugs in a family, my mission will be accomplished.”
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