Millennials are often accused of living in a state of arrested development. They claim that “adulting is hard” — adulting meaning the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, having to do grown-up tasks such as laundry, grocery shopping and taxes all by themselves. But the stress of adulting has created an interesting business opportunity for one mother in Brooklyn.
Mother for hire
Nina Keneally, 65, has become a “mother for hire,” an idea she developed after attending a yoga class and noticing that young people were coming to her after class for motherly advice.
For $40 an hour, young adults can hire Nina to lend an ear over “a cup of joe, hot chocolate or wine.” According to her website, she will also “review your resume and edit documents, iron your shirt for that big interview, watch a movie with you when you just don’t want to be alone (and bring the popcorn), make that pecan pie that you really really love, buy your real mom’s birthday present, wrap and ship it.” She also goes on to say, “Don’t expect me to clean your closet or do your laundry,” adding in true mom fashion, “I’m not your maid!”
It occurred to Nina that sometimes younger people need a motherly figure, but just not their own mother. Or their families are far away, or they’ve lost their mom.
“There is a need out there to talk to someone, obviously older, hopefully a little wiser, with hard earned wisdom and someone who has gone through what they are going through,” she explained. “I can say, “well you know what, when I was your age I had a problem and some of things I did to solve it or to deal with it were XYZ.”
But it’s not only younger people who are benefitting from her services. Nina herself is finding gratification in her new pursuit.
“I think a lot of people of my generation are reinventing retirement. It doesn’t necessarily mean playing golf or playing cards. It means pursuing things you’re passionate about, be it art, be it activism, be it involvement in your community, be it starting another job that you’ve always wanted to try. Someone in the park said to me, ‘Well you’re retired aren’t you?’ and it sent a shockwave through my soul, because I can’t imagine it.”
Nina said it’s about understanding the challenges younger people can face today. When she was living in New York in the 1970s, she was able to live comfortably in an apartment right near the Plaza. She acknowledges that those days are long gone, and living in big cities can be very hard for today’s young people. “New York is such a competitive place and I think sometimes it’s hard for families to understand what it takes.”
Nina aims to be a judgement-free zone for her clients, describing herself as “a mother without the baggage your own mother brings to the table. I am able to discuss things with a different level of empathy and involvement than a traditional therapist can.”
Nina has recently moved from Bushwick to Massachusetts and said “Interestingly, the bulk of my client work is now done online, via texting, emailing and the phone. Although I still very much enjoy the occasional “real” contact.” She also has a new job to add to her ever-expanding resume, she works in the Art and Adventure Team at TOURISTS in North Adams, MA.