the schmooze
WORTH $59,862.30?

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Q. “What was it like growing up in the 80s?”
A. Reaganomics.  Yuppies,  E.T.  The Cosby Show.  We rented movies to watch on our new VCRs.  No Internet.  No Twitter accounts.  No Tivo.  No smartphones or granny phone--the flip-phone with the big numbers that does nothing but make calls.  No Dr. Phil.  No two men on top of a “khasene” (wedding) cake.

Yes, we heard advice like “Kleyne kinder, kleyne freydn; groyse kinder, groyse zorgn.”
(Little children, little joys; big children, big worries).  And Jewish mothers called their wild children a “vilde khaye.”

“The Goldbergs” is a 2013 American “komedye” (comedy) TV series on ABC.  The series was created by Adam F. Goldberg and stars 43-year-old, Wendi McLenon-Covey as mom, Jeff Garlin,as dad, George Segal, as the “zayde”, and 3 children.  The show is set in the 1980s and follows the Goldberg family. 

Mom walks around in a jumpsuit, and is an overprotective matriarch.  She’s the CEO of the house and takes her job seriously.  Today she would be described as a “helicopter mom.”  She’s always hovering over her kids.  Some say that she’s a homemaker AND a ball-breaker.  I use this term to mean someone whose character and behavior may be regarded as threatening a man’s sense of power.

Maggie Furlong ( says, “No matter how normal you think you are, everyone’s got a little crazy in them.  The family in ‘The Goldbergs’ just doesn’t care about hiding it.  It’s cringe-inducing at times, but mostly just because it’s familiar on some level.”  The relationship between husband and wife reminds me of the Yiddish expression, “Bay tog tsum get, bay nakht tsum bet.”  (By day they’re ready to divorce, by night they’re ready for bed.)

Wendi McLenon-Covey (“Beverly”) says that TV viewers will see a lot of cringe-worthy family situations.  She barges in on all her kids at some point or other.  She’s having a difficult time because her “kinder” are growing up and don’t necessarily need her in the same way they did  before.

As yet, I haven’t heard Mom say to her daughter, Erica,  “Don’t be any man’s schmatta!”   or “No chuppah, no shtuppa!”  She hasn’t told any of the children, “Don’t keep it in, it will fester.”  And she hasn’t told dad, Murray, “It’s back-to-school night, can’t you put on a suit and stop being such a ‘shmatelatnik’ (slob) for once?”

It was a “Kodak moment” when Mom told her son, Barry, age 16, “Don’t forget to wash your bottom.”  And then she told Adam, “Why go shopping when your sister’s jeans fit your perfectly?...One day I won’t be here to dress you.  Look you need to be grateful.”

Mom says to her “yingst” (youngest) son, Adam, “Date?  You still play with robots!” He informs mom that today they’re “GoBots,”  the Rodney Dangerfields of ‘80s toy.  They get no respect.  GoBots don’t have a tenth of the nostalgic appeal of Transformers.

Mom talks about her dad:  “My father thinks he’s Burt Reynolds”--the sexiest man alive.

“Tateh”,  Murray, is always yelling.  When his daughter comes in very late from a date he  shouts, “It’s 2 a.m.   I thought you were dead.  I could kill you.”

And “zayde”(AKA “Pops Solomon”) takes his grandson to the “House of Waffles,” where he helps the 13-year-old organize “Operation Waffle Girl.”  He also shleps the boy to Hooters!  George Segal says that the program is like “Where’s Poppa?” for 2013

Dr. Paula Hyman (“Battling Stereotypes of the Jewish Mother,”, says that “In Eastern Europe and in the immigrant centers of America, she [mom] was celebrated by her children in song and story.  The precipitous decline of her image reflects first and foremost a shift in the criteria for evaluating what makes a good mother.”

Can we put a value of mom’s worth? commissioned a survey in 2013 to determine the value of a stay-at-home mother.  Mothers rank child care as their most time-consuming task, with 38% of women saying that’s how they spend most of their time.  Cooking (27%) and cleaning (12%) were also ranked among the most time-consuming tasks.

Taking care of the “der kinder” (the children) ranked as a favorite “khoyv” (duty/ obligation), with 30% of moms saying it was the motherhood job they enjoy the most.

So,  what is Beverly’s economic value?

Mother’s task Hours per week Weeks per year Mean hourly wage Annual earning
Cooking   14 52 9.03 6,570.20
Driving 9 52 13.85 6,481.80
Helping with homework 10 40 18.23 7,290.00
Taking care of kids 40 52 9.65 20,072.00
Nursing wounds 2 12 18.25 438.00
Cleaning up (such a “bale-boste”) 10 52 9.88  5,185.00
Planning parties  8 8 20.60 1,318.40
Summer activity planner  40 12 16.05 7,704.00
Haircuts 0.5 52 11.70 304.20
Shopping for family 3 52 10.30 1,606.80
Family finances 0.5 52 24.90 647.40
Yard work  1 52 11.38 591.50
Fixing up house 5 8 21.38 855.00
Finding out what the kids are up to 5 8 21.20 848.00
GRAND TOTAL:       $59,862.30

And so, the Goldbergs may be a loud and abrasive family, but Jewish mama, Beverly, is worth about $58,862.30!  In future episodes, she’ll, no doubt, convince us that    “Nakhes fun kinder iz tayere fun gelt”--Joy from children is more precious than money.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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