Last June, as in 2013, a woman named Lisa Heffernan published a blog post that immediately sparked controversy among women with children. The piece can be found now, in July 2014, on multiple sites—e.g., Huff Post Parents and Scary Mommy—as well as on the author’s original website where it runs under the title: Nine Reasons I Regret Being a Stay at Home Mom.
Somehow I managed to avoid the entire kerfuffle until a week ago, when the post got passed around my Facebook newsfeed. Maybe it went viral a second time, or maybe it never stopped. For all I know, there’s another hyperbolic post that people are going ape about instead. If so, I probably won’t discover it until 2015.
Either way, I’m so over it. I’m over the power of one blog post to encourage such negativity among its intended audience, and specifically over Heffernan’s specific instance of this less-than-appealing genre.
Whether or not you have read or heard of this particular piece, I invite you to be over it too.
9 Reasons You Can Be Over It Too
1. Spoiler Alert: She doesn’t really regret it. Fourth paragraph, second sentence: “It would be far too strong a word to say I have regrets.” Um, what? She kinda already did, which means that she is either a) being insincere, b) covering her ass, or c) using her headline as a cheap form of clickbait. In the literary world, she would be considered an unreliable narrator.
2. Duh! Tell Me Something I didn’t Know. Or at least present it in a new or provocative way. Instead, Heffernan itemizes a list of complaints that come off as cliché: having to drive a lot, not using her expensive education, volunteering a lot, and getting into the polar vortex of helicopter parenting. This doesn’t negate universal truths of her feelings—I feel several of them myself keenly—but she presents them in a way that lacks original thought and can be easily misinterpreted as whiny. Staying home is hard? Who knew.
3. There were no .gifs. How does she expect us to understand her point when there are no animated .gifs like the one above to punctuate the tone and emotion of each itemized reason? It’s almost as if she expects us to read it for ourselves. If I wanted a think piece, I wouldn’t have been trawling Facebook or reading blog posts in the first place.
4. Least-Satisfying Listicle Ever. I think I’ll stick to listicles that aim to entertain, provide a distraction from my daily minutiae, or inspire, like 3 Bananas That Look Like Celebrities, The 21 Best Lines from Joey Tribbiani on ‘Friends,’ or 23 Life-Changing Ways To Eat Chocolate Chip Cookies.
5. It’s ‘9’, not ‘Nine.’ Most listicles unabashedly use numbers the way they were intended: in numeral form! By choosing to spell out the number ‘nine’ instead, as is the trusted convention in more formal journalism, of which listicles and blogs are not, Heffernan pegged herself as the type to sleep with a style guide under her pillow lest she break a rule in her sleep. Her next piece will probably be “Five Reasons I Regret Ever Using Oxford Commas.”
6. Passive(-Aggressive) Lately? I’m running the risk of looking like a hypocrite on this one because I’m about to call her out for breaking another rule of writing: using passive voice. Had she used active voice, the headline would have read, “Nine Reasons I Regret Staying Home.” Why do I care, you ask? Because one clearly communicates that this piece is about one, singular experience, while the other passive-aggressively implicates any and all women who have ever gone jobless, voluntarily or not, to help raise their children.
7. She’s clearly not thinking straight. She used to work on Wall Street, and it’s stay-at-home moms she has a problem with? Now there’s a group that has done less for society than us moms over the last two decades. Besides, this is as circular an argument as you can get: it didn’t work out the way I planned; therefore, it’s bad.
8. Who made her queen? Oh yeah, we did. Heffernan had every right to write whatever she wanted to write; the bigger question is why we chose to give her words so much power. I personally ruminated for days, not because anyone made me but because it preyed on my own doubts. I know enough not to watch certain shows before bed, so why do I insist on reading crap I know will only make me feel badly?
9. Epic Fail. In short, the last thing we need is another off-putting, divisive referendum on motherhood. Regardless of what she set out to say, she said it in a way that betrayed her intent and my trust.
And you know what? I’m so over it.