Mará Rose Williams: I am so right, but my sons don’t believe me

Mara Williams with Jordan and Trey
Mara Williams with Jordan and Trey The Kansas City Star

My boys think their mama just fell off the cabbage truck.

No matter what I try to tell them, warn them about or advise them on, they look at me as if to say, Duh!

I first noticed that anyone but Mother knows best about the time they each turned 14. And now at 24 and 18 it has only gotten worse.

The latest example:

For the past month my oldest, who, as you know, is working in New York City as a writer, has talked about getting his own apartment in Manhattan. He has been working there full time since December. All this time he has lived with his aunt and uncle FOR FREE.

They have a big and very nice home in Long Island. It’s jogging distance to the water and, even better for my son, walking distance to the Long Island Rail Road. On the LIRR it’s a 35-minute ride to Manhattan.

With all the problems new college graduates are having finding work in their fields, my son is lucky to have landed a great job in NYC, in his field making good money. But as good as the money is, it doesn’t go far in a New York economy.

But as my mother used to say, it’s been burning a hole in his pocket. And he won’t hold on to it. He wants to walk out his door into the Manhattan streets that never sleep. He loves that. I get it. But a teeny-tiny two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, Lower East Side, is $3,000 to $4,000 a month. Crazy. Split with a roomy crammed into that small space it’s $1,500 to $2,000. More than my mortgage on a four-bedroom house and an acre of land.

So, on a visit to New York a few weeks ago I offered this cabbage brain idea: Stay with your aunt for at least a year and save the bulk of your salary. He has very few bills, and I still pay for his phone. Once you’ve easily accumulated somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 you can put it down to buy your own condo or something. Don’t throw away thousands of dollars just because you don’t want to wait a year.

I got that “Duh” look. “Mom, I’m a grown man. I got this,” he says. So what do I say? “OK, live and learn.”

He just had to have it right now. No matter that it’s above his means. No matter that he’ll have to also pay utilities and buy food and household stuff like a bed, furniture, dishes, pots and pans, toilet paper and soap. Being in NYC and young is great for the nightlife, son. But you have to have the money to enjoy it.

He did find a place with the help of a broker — “Mom, that’s how they do it in New York.”

Then called me to co-sign. “No way. You are grown, remember?”

He had first and last months’ rent but then had to sell his car to his brother to get money to put up additional collateral.

I’m just waiting for the call: “Mom, I’m running short this month, can you …” Boy, do I hope I’m wrong this time. My cabbage brain is telling me that’s not likely, but then, what do I know?

To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to