Adnan Zai, a specialty Advisor-In-Residence to private equity firms, has lived on three continents. But no matter where he has moved or what his job has entailed, he has always kept his mother close in his heart. Although she died in a tragic accident when he was very young, she has profoundly impacted his life and his beliefs. We sat down with him recently to discuss the impact that mothers have on the world, and the effect of Mother’s Day on the economy, as well as life in general.

Kraven: Mother’s Day in the United States has a unique history. Anna Jarvis sought to honor mothers after her own mother died, and it was first celebrated in West Virginia in 1908. President Woodrow Wilson officially established the holiday on the second Sunday in May in the year 1914. How did you celebrate your mother when you were young?

Adnan Zai: In the 1970’s when I was growing up in London, Mother’s Day was not what it is today. There was very little fanfare about it. Unfortunately, I lost my mom at a very young age due to a tragic accident, and so I was only able to celebrate her as a memory handed down by my siblings and her friends. Later when I came to the United States as a college student and saw how much deference is given to mothers and the Mother’s Day holiday, I incorporated the same respect for moms, and it helped for me to celebrate her value to me and her children as a memory.

Kraven: I’m sorry to hear about your loss. How else do you carry on her traditions and the impact she made on you?

Adnan Zai: With the early loss of my mother, Mother’s Day is even more important to me. Considering this, I have made it a point since my children were very young to value and appreciate all that their mother has sacrificed for them. Her sacrifices have come from a place of love and not just obligation. The hope is that one day when they have families of their own, they will carry the same values to the next generation.

Kraven: One interesting note about Mother’s Day is that Jarvis, who founded Mother’s Day, quickly became disheartened by the commercialization of the holiday. Although she started this special day to commemorate her own beautiful mother, the holiday quickly became extremely commercialized. She then spent nearly all her savings trying to remove the holiday from the national calendar. What is your view of the commercialization aspect of Mother’s Day?

Adnan Zai: There will always be people who get carried away in any situation and have the money to spend. But honestly, mothers are so self-sacrificing and give all of what they have each day, so there really should be no limit to what they are worth. A gift could never replace the love, time, sacrifice, and kindness that mothers have shown their children, but sons and daughters are right to try to honor these selfless women that have given their all.

Kraven: Experts estimate that there are 2.2 billion mothers in the world, with approximately 77 million mothers living in the United States. That being said, Mother’s Day is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and this year consumers spent an unprecedented $35.7B to show their appreciation for their mothers. Flowers, candy, and meals top the list. Have you instilled these gift-giving ideas with your own children?

Adnan Zai: I have encouraged my children to spend time with their mother and to show their appreciation in big and small ways. As they have gotten older, they have more means to show their gratitude with a gift. I am happy that they understand her value and realize all that she has done for them.

Kraven: When we think about the value that mothers have, beyond the sentimental, the Mother’s Day Index really gives us a sense of what moms do on a daily basis. Even without working outside the  home, the Mother’s Day Index 2023 reports that a mother’s work would justify an annual salary of nearly $135,000, (an increase of 5% over last year) based on the occupational wages from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, and calculated on a list of typical household chores.

“Mothers aren’t given enough credit for all the work they do,” says Managing Editor Nupur Gambhir, who oversaw this year’s Mother’s Day Index. “Our hope is that the index gives people a better appreciation for just how valuable they are.”

According to the numbers, salaries for cooks are up 10%, maids and housekeeping cleaners up 8%, judges and magistrates up 8%, and nurses up 8%. Do these wages sound reasonable to you?

Adnan Zai: Considering the impact that mothers have on their children, their worth is immeasurable. No one job title fits all that they do in a day, and no amount of money could make up for the sacrifice and love that they show to their children.

Kraven: This is especially true of single mothers. Eighty-four percent of single parents in the United States are women. To do all of the tasks that mothers are responsible for and also support a family outside the home is a Herculean feat. Sadly, around one third of single-parent households live in poverty. How do you reconcile this with the Mother’s Day extravagance that is being reported this week?

Adnan Zai: We need to work harder as a country to give all workers a livable wage, especially mothers. For some, there is extra money to pamper their mothers on this special holiday, but others are barely scraping by trying to make ends meet. Running a household alone is an extremely arduous task, and these women need our help. Now is the time to make wages more equitable for mothers and all workers. For those who are running a household by themselves, we need some scaffolding to hold them up in this difficult task.

Kraven: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us about mothers and their importance, Adnan Zai. Mothers are truly valuable members of society and should be celebrated not only on Mother’s Day, but throughout the year as well.