Single moms have too few choices? Bullshit!

Last week my dishwasher stopped working. Yesterday a $99 visit from the Whirlpool people confirmed that the motor died. A repair would cost $327 — the price of a low-end new dishwasher.

“What would you do? Get it fixed or just buy a new one?” I asked Bret, the repair guy who seemed like an honest dude.

“It’s a tough call,” Bret said. “I could go either way.”

Thanks for nothing, I thought.

I appreciated his frankness, but what I really wanted was a verdict. I wanted someone to make the decision for me.

One of the upsides of being a single mom is that I get things just how I want them. No arguing about whether the kids get dessert even if they don’t eat dinner (nope), how much to spend on Christmas (not that much), or whether to hang the painting from Brazil at the top of the salon-style cluster of art in the dining room or at the bottom (bottom, obviously). It’s my show, all the time. Which can be exactly the problem.

Life and parenting are all about decisions. Where do you go to go to college? What city do you live in? Which job to take? Rent or own? Who do you marry? Stay or divorce?

So when questions come up — big or small — it can be a giant help to have another level head to help make the call. Of course, if you’re in a contentious relationship, two decision-makers in the same house becomes the problem. Even worse is being in a perfectly stable relationship with someone who just doesn’t care, leaves all the deciding up to you, and you become really, really resentful.

And so yesterday the kids and I went to the local purveyor of appliances, P.C. Richards, where I faced three dozen dishwashers that all did the exact same thing but ranged in price from $159 to $3,000. Apparently you need to pay more for stainless steel inside the machine, yet the very nice salesman named Gilbert couldn’t explain why. The choices were overwhelming.

In the end Gilbert relived me of nearly $1,000 I really don’t have, including some hose I already own, a 10-year warranty and the pleasure of getting rid of that crappy Whirlpool that didn’t even last eight years. Now, less than 24 hours later I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a great decision, even if I haggled 15 percent off the sales price and wrangled some kind of rebate. But it was at the end of a very long day and maybe I was feeling a little overwhelmed and sorry for myself. Because, boo hoo, I might have to wash dishes another day, and, boo hoo, no one was there to help pick out the appliance.

So tomorrow the new dishwasher will be delivered. And I will own the decisions that lead to it’s making a home in my kitchen. Because even if there were some really savvy and reasonable guy there in the store with me, Gilbert may have upsold the two of us the same spendy machine.



Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour,, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

9 thoughts on “Single moms have too few choices? Bullshit!

  1. After visiting five different stores in person and at least a dozen online, I just dropped $1k on a dresser last night after realizing that none of my black bras can be located in the pile of crap on the chair that used to be my clothing. The upside: this is the exact dresser that I want. The downside: there is no one to blame but myself when I decide that this f*%King dresser sucks.

  2. For the record, don’t ever go for an extended warranty. Ever. Not sure if the 10 years was extra, but…don’t.

    Well, except for Apple’s iCare. That? That was worth it…but that is the ONLY warranty I’ve ever purchased.

    Research is with me on this one.

    1. Oh my gosh, thanks for this. I am a single working professional with 4 kids and I completely understand what you mean about making all the decisions and having nobody to blame but yourself for a bad decision and delighting in the freedom and joy of a good decision. I have learned to do more in the last year than I ever thought I would have to deal with. My struggle of late is trying to get my kids to not fight in the hour before I get home from work.

  3. >>I have learned to do more in the last year than I ever thought I would have to deal with.

    This is really the key – none of us know what we are really capable of. And we are capable of a lot. Way more than we will ever contend with.

  4. I will never forget staring for quite some time at hedge trimmers – deciding which one would do the job and which one I had the strength to handle. After some time I spotted a lady out the corner of my eye appearing to do the same thing. Funny thing was I knew this other single mum and together we decided on a hedge trimmer and both bought the same. Ten years later mine is still perfect – thanks to Jilly for being there!

  5. Girl I’m trying to pick a paint color for my kitchen and it’s giving me anxiety attacks. It’s just paint!!! I’m pulling the trigger tomorrow all the while saying the mantra “it’s just paint, it’s just paint!”
    love you.

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