In the market to rent a mom?

Published 11:54 am Friday, November 13, 2015

by Danny Tyree

“Rent-a-Mom The Real Deal For Adults Needing Mother,” blared a recent ABC News story.

According to the network, Nina Keneally, a 63-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y. mother, has been bombarded with inquiries about her startup company Need a Mom.

Keneally charges $40 an hour (plus expenses) to dispense motherly advice and encouragement, help write résumés, watch movies with clients, supervise closet-cleaning and offer support in myriad ways.

Yes, this could be a flash-in-the-pan News of the Weird item; but if Keneally franchises her idea or if copycats jump on the bandwagon, this could be the Mother of All Marketing Trends, and the birth of the new demographic MILCs (Mothers I’d Love to Consult).

Imagine the merchandise, including fancy jugs of saliva for wiping smudges off of faces.

Critics wonder if the services Keneally offers should really be labeled as “mothering,” since Keneally is upfront about the things that she does NOT do. She is not a babysitter or housecleaner. She doesn’t act judgmental or share long stories or embarrass you in front of your friends.

Not embarrass you in front of your friends? Hah! Any mother worth her salt would dutifully show up in curlers and frazzled bathrobe even if she was taking chemo in a nudist camp.

Such a business model would be like Hertz launching its rental operation by announcing, “We’ll rent you a car, but it doesn’t have an engine, transmission, seats, exhaust…”

Some people welcome a rent-a-mother opportunity because they never had a very close relationship with their real mother. Others have good mothers; but once you leave the nest, mom can’t always be handy when you need a pie baked or a button sewn on. Sons and daughters in this situation can feel guilty about using a rental service, thinking of it as a kind of betrayal.

“My mother would just die if she knew,” a reluctant rent-a-mom customer might say.

Of course a quick-witted service provider would counter with, “Ahem…for $40 an hour, I also do eulogies, act as the executor of estates and practice taxidermy.”

Currently Keneally is targeting 20-to-35-year-olds trying to make their way in the big city. Yes these people need help keeping their dreams and aspirations alive; but they can be a real challenge, because they get way too many of their ideas about urban life from sophisticated sitcoms. (“I need your help! Money is no object. I still haven’t found a zany best friend or a clueless boss or a cantankerous landlord. And where are the montages and flashbacks and celebrity cameos? There ought to be montages and flashbacks and celebrity cameos!”)

Some skeptics, pointing out the many selfless acts of real mothers, are questioning the mercenary nature of Need a Mom. If such services go over to the Dark Side, we could well see Rent A Mother Against Drunk Driving. (“Pay up, or I’m switching sides and giving a random bozo a fifth of Jack Daniel’s and the keys to a Lamborghini!”)

According to my faithful spies, Keneally’s weirdest request came from an anonymous source. (“I need you to remember that I threatened you with a hammer during my wayward youth. And could you pick me up a loaf of Pyramid Mills sandwich bread? Don’t get caught shoplifting it, because you’d turn gay in jail. Oh, and I need you to sew ‘Dump Trump’ slogans on 50 dozen sweatshirts…”)

DANNY TYREE welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page.