"Mom For Rent" Is Either Insane Or A Stroke Of Genius

A Brooklyn mom is renting out motherly advice and skills for $40 an hour

The story of a Brooklyn woman who offered motherly advice for $40 an hour went viral a little while ago. People seemed bewildered at the arrangement. The arrangement, as it were, is this: Nina Keneally, 63 and a mother “with 30+ years of experience” noticed that 20-somethings in the Bushwick area were mom-less. Often having relocated from smaller cities and towns, they were lacking a nearby mom perspective.

She also noted that even those with relationships to their own mothers would often appreciate her advice and talk to her about personal matters they wouldn’t speak to their own mothers about. Keneally saw this as a business opportunity and now offers her services at an hourly rate under the business name Need a Mom.

From a mother’s perspective, I have a few reactions to this whole concept.

If you have the skills, why not market them?

As moms we’re constantly dishing out free advice. Not only is parenting a job without financial reward, but having expertise in parenting is expected regardless of how new or seasoned you are. As soon as you give birth, you have a story people ask about. Friends and strangers with new babies want to know what you did when your baby was teething, what carrier you used, whether you made your own baby food and how. I would gladly accept a fee for any of this wisdom that’s expected of me.

I would cry if my daughter rented a mom.

Switching from thinking about the possibility of being a rent-a-mom, to the reality of being a mom—I would take it so deeply personally if my daughter, later in life, went to a stranger for motherly advice. I’m all for family friends being in the picture as advice-givers, teachers, guidance counsellors, therapists; but there is something about the idea of feeling she needed another mother specifically that would make me feel as if I failed. Was I not open enough, too judging, what did I do wrong?

My daughter would cry if I rented out my mothering.

Ms. Keaneally’s own children are adults now, so presumably this hasn’t been an issue for them. But my daughter doesn’t share me well. At age five she is an only child, and while she’s become used to me holding babies (I’ll hold any baby handed to me, the younger the better), she’s still not great with me interacting with her friends and kids closer to her age. I think that if I became a professional mom, my being her mom would feel less special to her and she’d not deal well.

I would love to rent a mom.

I’ll admit this was my first reaction to this whole ordeal. As someone who has a difficult-at-best relationship with my mother, and very little relationship with her at this point, I’d love a go-to mom figure. I’d love to ask parenting advice. Parenting-life balance advice. Advice on adulthood in general. I’d love the company of someone who was not quite a peer, not likely to be compared to me. I’d love a stand-in grandmother for my daughter, someone I could call on to babysit or appear with the occasional gift, or have us over for a meal. I’d love someone to talk me into returning the ridiculous shoes I bought my daughter, to get my doctor to see me sooner or to fight with my credit card company on my behalf.

I have no idea what a non-judgmental mother would look like, but I’d like to know. 

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