Woman in the Living Room
We spend a lot of time talking about bravery in Brave Writer. The public icon who is putting courage and vulnerability on the map is Brené Brown. She talks about what it means to “dare greatly.” She often cites Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote to remind us that our critics are in the cheap seats. The place of stature is in the act—in the choice to do!
What are some of the questions/judgments/critiques you deal with?
- How will your child ever be socialized?
- How will you teach advanced math and science in high school?
- How will your child get into college?
- Aren’t you bored staying home all day?
- Homeschoolers are backward thinkers
- Stay-at-home moms don’t have real careers
- You are over-protective
- Homeschooled kids are socially awkward
- What qualifies you to teach your own kids?
Sadly we get criticisms in our own community.
- You aren’t a “true” fill in the blank home educator since you are only doing it partially.
- You’re too religious, not religious enough.
- You have too many kids/you don’t have enough kids.
We scroll through social media and wonder if we are doing it right enough.
The other cheap seats are located in our own minds—the non-stop chatter of self-harm. We often level critiques at ourselves and then feel our courage fail us when we get a good idea or have an inspired thought.
The “Man in the Arena” is Brené’s way of helping us value the act, over the opinion; getting on the playing field, over shouting coaching strategies to the players.
Still, whenever I hear it, I feel the masculinity of Roosevelt’s chosen image of a man in an arena. That’s not where I live. It’s not my playing field. It seems like we homeschool mothers (in particular) have to work pretty hard to translate Roosevelt’s arena language into our more mundane home-grown experience.
The original quote:
“Man in the Arena”
By Theodore Roosevelt
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
A great quote. But my person was stained more by snot, breast milk, and tears than blood and sweat.
And so: I rewrote it. I rewrote it for us—for homeschool mothers. I know some dads are reading along, and I trust you to make the translation from female to male the same way we women translated other quote from male to female for ourselves.
I call this:
“Woman in the Living Room”
By Julie Bogart
It is not the critic who counts—not the father-in-law who teaches high school, nor the friend with her children in private school; not the woman who points out how the homeschool mother stumbles, or where the doer of lesson plans could have done them better. The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the living room, whose face is untouched by make-up, whose children’s faces are marred by cookie crumbs, scratches from the cat they provoked, and tear stains from a broken heart; who strives valiantly to bring enchantment to academic progress; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the acts of love and learning every day; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions to her family and her vision of education; who spends herself in this worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of a child’s high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly—holding space for the child who struggles, who didn’t catch on yet—and continuing still. Her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know the joy of learning as a lifestyle nor the terror of not doing enough to meet academic standards.
You are the woman in the living room.
You are the brave learner.
You are here.
Would you like a PDF download of “Woman in the Living Room”
ready to print and display?