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Tales From the Motherhood: The adventures of refrigerator shopping

Note to readers: this is part one of a two part series. Part two will run next week.

We knew a new fridge was on the horizon when we bought this house. But I’m not a fan of waste, of throwing usable stuff into overcrowded landfills.

“Unless it’s got smoke pouring out of its ears,” I sang whenever the kids lobbied for a new one, “it stays.” I know it’s not pretty. The plastic parts inside have either broken off or run away from home, and that plastic grill thingy on the bottom? That dusty, grimy thing that serves no apparent purpose but to break one’s back whenever company threatens to come and it must be cleaned? Gah! I’m so over it. Last, but certainly not least, though, the appliance paint applied by the previous owners has worn completely off. Yeah. And those are just the cosmetic issues. Replacement was imminent. That was nearly 10 years ago, though. Suffice it to say, I’ve stuck to my guns on the whole smoke-pouring-out-of-its-ears thing. 

Last week, my 19-year-old texted me at work.

“So it seems a wrapper got caught above a light bulb in the fridge and caused the light to be magnified, thus melting the ceiling of the fridge surrounding the bulb.” Oh, my. “I’m gonna remove the bulb after it cools, and I already removed the wrapper and some of the melted material.” 

Whoa. So there was a fire in my fridge?

“I did not engineer this,” Noah texted a moment later, apparently anticipating my response. Haha! Well played, Noah (aka leader of the movement to buy a new refrigerator), well played. For the record, I believe him – more or less. In any case, the time had finally come. (I do not suffer the wonders where possible electrical wonkiness is concerned.) So I stopped by a store on my way home from work to have a look-see at our options, hit up another one a few days later and researched refrigerators online. I hate shopping. I consulted my Consumer Reports appliance guide (thanks, Mom!). By 11 p.m. Friday, six days before Thanksgiving and a mere one day before I was to clean the fridge (so we could then fill it to the gills in anticipation of hosting Mom, my brother and his family for the holiday – gah!) I’d whimpered and practically slid right off my kitchen stool onto the floor after hours of surfing the web for reviews and specs (the doorways of this little yellow house are quite little, too). Giddy with exhaustion, (hey, did anyone even eat dinner?) I was drowning in a veritable puddle of first-world details. Holly headed up to bed and Noah turned off the lights.

“Come on, Mom, it’s time for bed,” Noah said, as I scrolled through yet one more review and drooled over the Black Friday sales already begun. I had to get it together. The timing was perfect. I could save hundreds of dollars! And what if I could get a new fridge delivered and completely avoid cleaning this one?! Yes! Yes!! Y E S!!! (You get the picture. Duh. Cue Meg Ryan.) I’m not sure what thrilled me more: the potential of saving hundreds, or the possibility my days of toiling over this icky fridge were over. The stores’ prices were practically identical, so it was a race to see who could deliver one first. We just had to pick one.

“Company’s coming and I don’t have to clean the fridge?! Let’s DO this!” I shouted the next morning, as Holly and I headed into the wild with a spring in our step, determined to buy a new fridge before noon. 

“Nope, can’t do side-by side,” I said, waving a big fat NO to an entire aisle of refrigerators as Holly and the salesman hurried to keep up. The one we were unloading is a side-by-side. Try sticking a pizza in the freezer. No-can-do, no dice, no deal. I need a freezer drawer, one with adjustable dividers. You know, for the pizza.

“Mom, it’s not like we buy that much pizza,” Holly said, embarrassed I kept perseverating in public about pizza. True, that. But, silly girl, who hates having stuff fall out and onto her feet every time she opens the freezer, you’ve already sold me on the merits of the new-fangled freezer drawer (Who knew? What a concept!), and I want it to work. But not a noisy one, no thanks.

“That’ll wake the kids up,” I said, as I closed the door on another one. Who am I kidding? These days, I’m in bed before they are. Finally, we found a fridge we liked, at a price I could stomach, and watched as the salesman measured it from stem to stern and promised the doors could be taken off during delivery. A fridge that my doorways, albeit narrow, would accommodate.

And what about color? “White or stainless?” Our other appliances are white. And besides, “stainless refrigerators don’t hold magnets, right?” I asked. I’d read that online. 

“No,” the salesman said.

“No magnets? No bueno. That right there is a deal-breaker,” I said, as Holly winced and the salesman laughed. We all have our priorities, I said, and being able to post my kids artwork is one of them. Oh, well, sure, so they’re 16 and 19. YES, I got the memo. But yes, we’ve still got fun stuff to hang on the fridge, right? So there. White it is.

But would they, could they, deliver it before my brother arrived three days later (two days before Thanksgiving), so I didn’t have to scrub the old one? And would it, could it, fit through the door?

Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at

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