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  • Betsy Singleton Snyder

What My Appliances Mean to Me

A hard rain was falling that night. Our children were in bed, my husband was upstairs, and I was walking into our kitchen, fully swaddled in my pajamas and comfy robe. I was enjoying listening to the rain hitting my roof. It looked to be a peaceful night, a rare and beautiful thing when one is a busy mom.

Suddenly, I heard something buzz, then turned toward the sound, which seemed to be coming from our old, double oven. The time clock was flashing, yet our electricity hadn’t gone out. As I stood in front of my oven, puzzled, it erupted in flames, and the flames did not seem insignificant. I turned and ran up the stairs, calling to my husband to come down immediately.

We turned off the breaker, and the flames died down. We discovered that we’d had a slight roof leak down the brick wall, which entered the top of the oven, near the controls.

By the next day, my husband was thinking we needed a new oven. I was not unhappy. When we bought the home, we redid our kitchen, and the only thing that remained was the small, old oven, only 24 inches wide. My heart leapt: I was getting a new double oven, and this one would be thirty inches across. I texted family and friends that we would actually have room to warm everyone’s casseroles and dishes for gatherings!

Within months, our dishwasher went down. I’d picked out that sweet one, so saying “goodbye” was a more somber affair. I’d done thousands of bottles in that dishwasher, tons of sippy cups, and tiny utensils. It had held in there fourteen years with triplets, plus one. That’s surely twenty-eight years in dishwasher life.

Before I had kids, I wasn’t that interested in appliances. I did like certain amenities and finishes, but I now consider my appliances to be in the category of “besties” as in the kind who have your back. Now I know why my mom hated to say goodbye to her dilapidated Maytag washer that never let her down. As a teenager, I used to pray it would break down because it was so old, the white paint chipping off. I think it finally died in its third decade. That never happens now.

The next sickly appliance of 2019 became a fairly new washing machine. It went down twice in four months. Worse, the repair timeline was an impediment to all six of us changing clothes or sweating: the first available appointment was six days after the drain stopped working. This delay might have been merely disappointing, but it became a crisis since our kids had just started back to school and sweaty activities in--uh--August. Even on the day of the repair, the fact that we had a warranty, which they’d not been aware of, became a problem. The necessary part would take a day to come in, but they couldn’t come back for another week. Do I look like I'm mad?

At that point, my husband and I conferenced by phone. Either he called the manager, or I would tweet up a storm. Cooler heads prevailed, and the manager worked with us. Thankfully, didn't have to use a laundry mat, nor was our babysitter asking us if she could take home some clothes to wash at her house. One of my older friends at church did suggest that I get the boys a wash tub and scrub board, then teach them a thing or two. I asked if she would like to supervise.

If this story were a horror movie, we'd actively do a search for who's knocking off my appliances because there's yet another recent death. The microwave went out. The timer tried to work, numbers lit up, but no sound, just a tiny gasp from somewhere inside: "Woman, I'm done!"

Thankfully, I've got a new microwave in place for Thanksgiving, and it's humming. Good sign.

Not long ago, my oldest child began suggesting we get smart tech to oversee some household requests. He wanted us to get a voice-activated, house hub.

I’m just not ready for a new relationship in my life, not right now, Alexa, Echo, Google “girl,” or whatever your name is. I’ve got too many helpers in my life right now. Don’t call me; I’ll call you.

(Some of this piece was originally published in my Parent-ish, my column for Little Rock Family Magazine.)

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