May 6, 2011 -- What's mom worth? On the one hand, you could say that she's "priceless." On the other? "$61,436 a year."
That's according to Amy Danise, senior managing editor of Insure.com, a website that supplies insurance information. Danise and her colleagues divided up mom's function into 14 different jobs (cook, driver, nurse, etc.), then used Bureau of Labor Statistics on hourly wages to see how much you'd have to pay if mom were outsourced.
If you didn't have her, for example, you might have to spend $6,285 a year on transportation (taxi driver or chauffeur, priced at $13.43 an hour). For cleaning, you'd have to pay a maid or housekeeper $9.40 an hour, or $7,104 a year.
You'd pay $300 a year for haircuts.
And therein lies one problem with this argument: Do you really want mom to cut your hair?
How many people, if they had a choice of using mom or a professional hairstylist or cosmetologist would use, well, mom? I mean, she's nice and all. She made your lunch for all those years. But do you really want her giving you a permanent?
Might not other things done by mom be done better by professionals? "Nursing wounds" is listed by Insure as one mom-function. If mom nurses you, you get, "Let me kiss it and make it better." If you hire a professional nurse, though, it might actually heal. Either way, the tab is $17.90 an hour, using BLS data. Would you rather mom decorate the house--or an interior decorator, at a cost of $24.99 an hour?
Does Danise agree there might be some advantages to outsourcing some of mom's job? "Absolutely," she says. But she also notes there are situations where mom will do a job no one else would want. As for haircuts, she asks, what barber will take you when you've somehow gotten gum wadded in your hair? It would damage their shears. Mom, though, will take you right away--no waiting.
"There are lots of ways one could calculate mom's value," says Danise. In pricing some of mom's functions, such as camp counselor, "we had to select from among several hourly figures." She also had to make some estimates of the number of hours a week a mom might spend on a certain job. "All moms are different," says Danise, "and all will spend a different amount of time on a given job, depending on her family's needs."
In the 14 jobs attributed to mom, there seems to be a glaring omission: Things she does for dad. Can you put a price on that? People, of course, do but we won't get into that.
Danise acknowledges this deficiency: "That's the function we can't put a dollar value on: love and support."
After all, there's no job category for somebody loving and kind who looks under your bed to assure you there aren't monsters, or who consoles you when you drop what would have been the winning fly ball; nobody who suffers through your piano recital or rides the carousel when she'd really rather not. And no mortician is going to help you bury your pet rabbit.
So, thank you, mom. For all that and for so much more, there really is no value. It's worth all the gold that probably isn't in Ft. Knox.
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