I read about Nina Keneally’s services on a few sites, and I didn’t know how I felt about it. She rents herself out as a mum. You need a good hug? You need help figuring out what to wear? You need relationship advice? You can rent Keneally and have her serve as your temporary mother.
On one hand, what a necessary service. She cannot replace a missing or estranged or never-known mother, but she can fulfill the needs that stem from being motherless. Think of her like a painkiller; she can’t cure the illness causing the pain, but she can alleviate the symptoms for a short period of time.
On the other hand, it feels wrong. It feels wrong for money to change hands in exchange for kindness and comfort. It’s different from paying for a therapist who goes through years of training in order to help people with emotional situations. This is someone who has simply lived life.
I guess you are paying for her time. Which, I know, isn’t a small thing. Every moment she gives up to a stranger is a moment she takes away from spending on herself.
But… you know what I mean? Shouldn’t we just reach out to the people around us when we know they are struggling and need a parental-like figure? Can’t we just send up the bat signal when we’re in need and have our friends and family step in and fulfill the role? Are we really so starved as a society that we need to pay a stranger to do what any loving, caring person could step in and do?
Perhaps it is all my years as a teacher, for filling in for parents when parents aren’t there from 8 am to 3 pm, for holding hands as kids cried over lost friendships or failing grade, for giving life advice, for offering protection. I had to act like a mother on 9/11 and act like a mother for girls who got their first period in school and act like a mother by attending their school plays and basketball games and looking at the sculptures they made in art.
It was not hard to act like a mother, which was not in my job description. My job was to teach English. The rest of that stuff? It was just because it was the right thing to do.
It’s Thanksgiving today, and maybe it’s a good time to sit back and reflect on ways we can reach out to one another. Keneally’s services lay bare the fact that the need is out there. It’s a matter of figuring out how we can all fill it, not by charging vulnerable people in need of some comfort and advice, but by taking the time to continuously look around you and see where you can give care. Just because.
Happy Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating today, and if you’re not, you get a head start on thinking up one way you can reach out to another person and offer care by this time next week. That would make the best Cyber Monday, simply being a listening ear online, offering a comment, virtually holding a hand.