PAM: Welcome! I’m Pam Laracchia from livingjoyfully.ca, and today I’m here with Tara Soto-Regester. Hi Tara!
TARA: Hi, how are you?
PAM: I am very good. Thank you. Just to let you guys know, I connected with Tara recently when she asked me to be a guest on her podcast, A Mother’s Intuition. I really enjoyed answering your questions and our conversation, and I’m really excited this time around to actually hear more about your unschooling story.
So, to get us started, can you share with us a bit about you and your family?
TARA: Sure! It’s so interesting to be on the other side now. Now I get to feel what everybody else gets to feel. We are a family of four. It’s me, Tara, my husband Mark, which his nickname is Turf, and he pretty much doesn’t go by anything else.
TARA: Yes Turf, like Astroturf. And then we have our son Dominic who is eight, and our daughter Eve, who is five, about to be six. My husband and I will have been married ten years tomorrow, and together fifteen…
PAM: Congratulations! Sweet!
TARA: We live in Pennsylvania, in Chester County, and what else would you like to know?
PAM: Well, that leads very nicely into the next question.
How did you discover unschooling, and how did you decide that that was a place that you would like to go?
TARA: Oh, ok. Well, unschooling for us…I had talked to Pam about this ahead of time. We did not find unschooling in the way that I feel like a lot of people may have. Unschooling kind of came to us in a traumatic way. So, with unschooling, I’d actually never heard of it. I mean, sure, we’d heard of homeschooling. I knew one other homeschooler. I actually worked in the education field and worked with children with cerebral palsy and was really comfortable in the school world and then fast forward to when I got pregnant with my own children. When I got pregnant with my son Dominic, it was almost immediate that I became depressed. And the pregnancy was hard, I was sick from beginning to the end. So, that was already a mental thing, and I swore that once I got un-pregnant, that I wouldn’t be depressed anymore. Well, that didn’t happen. And I was actually detached from Dominic. I was really good at covering it up. Super good, actually. Somehow nobody even noticed. I didn’t even really hold him in the delivery room. I was just that good at being, “Oh, you hold him” or whatnot…
PAM: Yeah, yeah.
TARA: And then, so then, I know this is like major history, so it wasn’t until two and a half years later that I had Eve. But pretty much for the majority of that time, I was depressed. I kept a good Stepford Wife face on the whole time. My husband could see it because you know, we’re best friends, so he could figure that out. But I still went on and wanted to have another child, close in age so they wouldn’t be alone.
So, two and a half years later, I had Eve. It was a completely different pregnancy. It was like I wasn’t even pregnant. I never even felt her move. But this baby, when she was born, I touched her.
So, we move into the preschool years with Dominic, and he screamed almost every day going into preschool. I mean, we were the people who were dragging in and then distracting and then they would tell me, “He made through 50 percent of the day.” Of half a day. He was just…He was a live wire, and you couldn’t know where his moods were coming from, they were very- you’d think that you’d be in a great position, because there’s cupcakes and kids, and out of nowhere, he would fall apart, or throw a chair, or somebody would walk in the room and he would tell me that, “We have to evacuate. We have to leave right now.”
But the preschool, the people who worked at the preschool, it was super small, and they were always so super supportive. They were over the moon supportive, and you know, there’s only like eight of them. And so, we get to kindergarten, and we didn’t make it two weeks in kindergarten. Not two weeks. He started trying to jump out the window. He escaped almost every day, several times, and just book it for the road. I mean he was skipping out.
And it got, on my end. I was ticking off the days until he could go to kindergarten because I was exhausted and I was sad and I was depressed, and even though I was playing mom and, you know, crying in the shower, I wasn’t keeping it away. I noticed that he started to take my thoughts out of my brain. If I was sitting there talking to him and I was falling apart mentally, he started repeating the exact words that were going on in my head, which concerned me.
TARA: And so, everything just came to a head, and we couldn’t keep him in school and we took him out, and at this point, right before we took him out of school, he became suicidal, at five. We didn’t have any traumatic, that I knew of, situation that happened within the family with him. We couldn’t pinpoint it. We started taking him to therapies and this that and the other thing. But we kept getting, “This is too severe for us and we don’t know what’s going on.” We went in for an IEP meeting, or where they go and look at them before they go to the IEP meeting. We drove up to the school, and he said, “Why are we here?” And I said “Oh, I just gotta meet a friend.” “You’re a liar.” He tells adults all the time that they are liars when they are lying. And I said “It’s ok, it’ll be fine. It’s just for a minute. We just have to go play for a little bit.”
Somehow, I convinced him to go in, and when we walked into this middle school, I noticed he kept touching the walls, and when he touched them, he would pull his hand back like he was being burned. He said, “This is not- we have to get out of here! We have to get out of here!” And that testing that he ended up doing with the psychologist, when I went in, I said, “They have to understand the magnitude of what they are getting into here.” So, I’m going to pull back and not do anything, so they can see.
TARA: I mean, he destroyed an office. He ran out, and I mean, the doors in the school are locked and so he’s ripping at the doors and he’s just falling apart, and he’s laying the hallway going, “You have to kill me, you have to kill me.” And so, this is what was going on with us every day. That’s the history, so now, the unschooling part….
PAM: That’s so hard. Thank you so much for sharing that because I’m sure, I know I can feel some connections too. We were also having a very hard time with our eldest in school, etcetera, but I mean, I loved that you could see how he was picking up your energies as well, you know what I mean? And you were taking him seriously. You were trying to help him in the ways that you knew at the time. So, now I’m excited to see how unschooling came into the picture.
TARA: So, unschooling– I pretty much hit the bottom. Tara was at the bottom of the barrel, and I had to leave. I had to- that’s kind of my natural instinct that I’m trying to change. I’m a runner, there we go, why my son’s a runner. So, I said, “I have to go. I have to go somewhere.” So, I get in the car, three am and I’m going to New York, and just, I’m going.
And at this point, I’ve told nobody. I’ve told nobody, because I couldn’t…I’ve realized that whatever I was feeling or people were feeling, and part of me was thinking I was going crazy too. And he could pick up on, so I didn’t want to tell people, and them expect it when we walked into social situations and then it gets blown out of proportion. So, I was like really in the box! Plus, I didn’t want people thinking I was nuts. So, I call my friend, and it’s 3 am, and I tell her as much as I can tell her, but it’s very little, and I tell her were going to homeschool, and she goes “Whatever you do, don’t unschool.” and I was like “No, no, no, I’d never do that.” In my head, you know it’s like three am so you’re thinking, ‘I don’t feel like talking about it, but I have no idea what that…’
PAM: Just being agreeable.
TARA: Why would I ever do that? So, in February, I realized that when Dominic was in the woods, all his outbursts and stuff, it just wouldn’t happen. I mean, he could be hurt, he could get stuck in the face with a thorn. None of the outbursts would happen. He’d just pull it out and keep going, he wasn’t falling apart anymore! He was just out in the woods. So, I typed “kids in forest” in Amazon and Ben Hewitt’s book, Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World came up. I picked that up, and I took it with us on a trip to Puerto Rico, and I was sobbing on the plane ride home when I finished it because I said, “These are the words! This is the thing! This is the thing I need to be doing!” But it still took time. It took me a lot of time and evolution to admit that I was unschooling.
PAM: Well yeah, I guess especially after that comment from your friend.
TARA: Well it took time also too, because when we took Dominic out of school, he laid on the couch for nine months! And I was trying to figure it out. I called CHOP, we are near all the big children’s hospitals, and I’d get on the phone and I’d say, “Um…”, and I’m trying not to sob, but I am, and I’m like, “I need help! My five year old is suicidal.” And this is September. “I’m sorry ma’am. We don’t have an opening until July.” And I’m sitting there and I go, “How many children need to be in this psychological situation, and you have no one until July!?” And these are several hospitals!
We did finally find a therapy that required me to really observe my children, and be a part- and, it was play. It was just play. But just letting him sit there for nine months really helped me see, even though he was on the couch, he was still learning. And I was able to research and get the back stories and listen to podcasts and find a more solid feeling that I, that we, could do this.
PAM: So yeah, I’d be interested in learning more about that time, right? Because that was a big part of your transition into it, and Dominic’s transition out of school, right? So, when you say he spent most of his time on the couch for those first, what, nine months you said? What was he doing there? Was he playing there? Was he watching TV? What did you see when you were observing him? Like you said, you saw that he was learning. What kinds of ways did you see that?
TARA: Well, so, what I really started to realize at this time is that I had to clean up my stuff, me, because if this wasn’t in line, it was flowing right over into him. And you know, it was word for word! I mean, the night terrors alone. He’d wake up, I’d be having a nightmare, he’d wake up and say “I’m having this nightmare!” And it’s the exact same one!
There was a resentment in that period where I said, “I’ve been going through all this and I can’t even have my own thoughts.” There was! And so, Dominic on the couch, what my husband and I decided was, because the suicide attempts had reached a new high, I mean, jumping out the window, running into the highway, and all the times he was just telling me “It’s too hard here. It’s too hard here. It would be easier if you would let me go.”
Um, I mean, really, if you put my life into cliff notes, I wouldn’t even believe it myself.
But so, when he would lay on the couch, he’d just watch YouTube, he’d watch TV and lay on the couch, but he was the most docile he’s been. And the therapy that we’d been going through at that time told me that this might happen, that the cortisol levels were so high, or so low, one or the other, that they needed to balance, and the no anxiety and the no seeing anybody- like the cocoon happened. But I took advice from podcasts about unschooling, was that I got to sit there with him and I got to really observe his brain, because the fact of the matter was that he wasn’t in school so it’s not like I was getting a report card, right? That’s what I was used to. Somebody else giving me his development markers.
And I’m so desperate at this point to see if he’s getting better. I just have to watch him, and when he would say, “Mom, can we get up and go ride the bike?” I’m like, “Yes, we can get up and go ride the bike!” In my head I’m thinking, ‘This is calming the vestibular system because of this, and…’ and the science part is going on. ‘Dancing is helping him with his internal metronome!’
So, it was so interesting because it actually made me start living again, because I knew the occupational therapy terms for why dancing with your child- like, dancing calms the nervous system which makes you in tune with your body which brings down your anxiety, or why playing on the playground…and then, you know, playgrounds aren’t super difficult anymore? So, we would try to find difficult playgrounds so they could push themselves, because the more they push themselves, and then they get more, that lowers the rate of depression.
So, what ended up happening, was I had to start singing around the house, I had to start dancing and doing dance parties. I really had to jump at any moment. I had to play video games. And I didn’t understand Minecraft and why they kept talking about it and I had to sit down and be like, “Okay, I’m going to play Minecraft on the TV, and I’m going to play, and you guys are going to tell me how to play this, because I don’t understand,” and here I have my three year old and my five/six year old being like, “Oh no, no, that’s not how you make a torch, and don’t you know that gold is a soft metal! That won’t make a very good shield.” And I’m thinking, “Oh my god! How do you know this?!”
Then the other thing was Dominic was afraid of authority. Because when you have adults, you have people who will push you—his sensitivities were just off the charts. So, what we ended up doing was, my husband and I started taking up dance lessons because we wanted to help him with his internal metronome. We would start taking classes and we would set him off to the side. And what was something that was super beautiful was the, my husband was still getting accustomed to dancing with a man at dance class, and Dominic was not having it. He was, “Don’t touch my dad. Get away from my dad”. So, this dance teacher was amazing, they were like the top ballroom dancers in the world, no joke, they were in the top ten, and they were there teaching another two people. And my son sits, I’m sitting there with my son trying to calm him down, and he’s watching these people dance, and he said…the man was the student and he said “Why is the student leading the teacher?” and so I was explaining the dance to him, and he said, essentially something like “Doesn’t that happen? Doesn’t that always happen? The teacher and the student always supposed to learn from each other.” and I’m like “Oh my gosh!”
PAM: Wow, yeah.
TARA: So, that’s really what it looked like, but for the most part, we were hunkered down at home, and it was just a lot of me watching him. And also, at this point too, Eve had decided that she wanted to be home, because this is ridiculous, that two years I was with him and she had to go to preschool, and she wanted to be home with her mom! So, that’s it in a nutshell. There was a lot of living that happened in the last three or four years.
PAM: Yeah yeah, no. I love the way that you just, because so often when we think of cocooning, you know, you kind of imagine, so much non…you know, nothing’s going on. You know you’re just…you almost see it more as kind of a sleeping quietness. But you’re so right, the way you described it, what a learning period it is, right?
A process, even though we’re not doing much, you know, from the outsider looking in, it doesn’t look like that much going on. But when you’re in there, there’s an incredible amount of stuff going on, like internally, for ourselves, and just learning how to engage with each other and learning about each other, and you being able to observe him and see what he was learning and to make the choice to.
I think that’s an important step in the deschooling process, to make the choice to engage and play with our children in the ways that work well for us, because that’s how were helpful for them, that’s how we see them in action, that’s how we come to understand what’s going on. We come to see all the learning that happens outside of a classroom environment, right? Because so often when we start, that’s the only way we see learning, right?
PAM: But when you’re engaging with them, and I loved that student teacher comment, you know, learning from each other all the time. I had a flashback to your little Minecraft, you know, set up where they were showing you how to do the stuff, and yeah, it’s a hard time, it’s such a hard time, because so often you are going to that transition from trauma or challenges, you know, because some things come up that’s had you choose a different lifestyle. Depending on how people came to unschooling, some people have that kind of lifestyle and add the education piece, for others it’s something totally new that you weren’t expecting, right? And so, you’re coming… It’s a big change for everyone, but that’s such a valuable time, priceless months, and that’s my experience, that it takes months at least, right?
TARA: Oh! It took me, for me, years, at least two years. Because it was so wildly different from the formula for life that I was ready to sign up for. I was so ready to get back to my…what I thought was my old self and be successful in the way that I thought was, I was brought up to think success was, and get myself back. Get…that’s literally what I was, ticking off the days, and the children that I signed up with had other plans, and thank god they did. They burned the house down because the foundation was not working. There were bigger plans.
PAM: Yeah yeah, wow, that’s a great…that’s a great metaphor for it, right, because that’s what we are building in that cocoon, in that time, in that transition time is laying a new foundation for our lives, isn’t it? For our lives, for our relationships. For how we see each other, how we engage with each other, That’s really what we’re doing, isn’t it? Laying that foundation.
TARA: Yeah, that’s exactly what we are doing.
Through that transition time and into now, what has surprised you most about this journey?
PAM: Other than having to strip down everything and rebuild from the bottom up!
TARA: Oh my gosh. My poor family, I know that watching me has been like white knuckles on a rollercoaster. You know? But what has surprised me most—this has been super interesting.
I didn’t realize how much I wasn’t living. I wasn’t! I was in no way challenging myself. I was in no way in touch with myself. I was very much going through what somebody else expected. I didn’t challenge the system, not that I needed to challenge it, but I didn’t question it at all.
I would say things in my mind or things aloud like, “Kids need to have more gym class!” and “They need to have more recess time! This is ridiculous!” I was on that train, sure! But this really required me to let go of what was…to jump. To lose baggage. Because when you jump, you lose baggage. So, here’s another step. Jump, lose baggage.
So, what did surprise me most? Unschooling gave me the platform to look at my children without judgement and observe them, and then to flip it back on myself, and what ended up surprising me most was…so my daughter Eve, in this time, and we kind of treated it like a joke, we thought our house was haunted, as of when Eve was born. There would always be steps up the stairs, her door was always opening and closing and she was always talking to somebody. And we just kind of made a joke of it. We would call them “Eve’s friends are here” and make a joke about it.
We live in an old farmhouse so it made sense. So, for my sister’s birthday, she had wanted to have a meeting with a psychic, and I said “Ooh me! Fun! Me too! I want to find out about Eve!” Or not about Eve. About the house. And when I asked the psychic about the house, I said “I want to know who’s in my house.” and she was like “Oh, it’s not your house, it’s your daughter”. And I was like “excuse me?” And I said, and so she had to explain more about… She said you know, children have a certain energy that, and by the way also, she’s wired. She has these mediumship skills, whatnot. And I walk away from it and laugh and ha ha, this is funny, cute. Years come down and everything happens with Dominic and I go back to this psychic, and I said, “Is this a thing?” And she said, “It most definitely is a thing.”
You know, there’s different ways for them to perceive energy and what not. And I later on start losing it and I said “Why!? I just wish I knew I could do this!” Because I was at my wits end. I said “I wish I knew I could do this!” And she looked at me almost kind of like confused, “What do you mean you can’t do this?” And I was like “I don’t know if I can get through this! She said, “You always knew you could do this!” And I said “I don’t get…I never ever once felt like I would be able to do this.” And she said “Tara, you made a contract with your children, long before you were here. This was always supposed to happen. And it would be nice of you to stop, um, stop putting your own stuff into this and really look at it for what it is. Like, children are more sensitive than what we give them credit for, and they know so much more.” And so, I literally walked away with that and go every day, every moment, was thinking, “Why would I sign up for this?”
Realizing later that it’s like an evolution of self, I have to evolve as a person. So, looking at all this and just being open and just being able to observe the world without measurement. I could look at my own family, I could look at homeless people on the street, I could look at real…you know, hollywood stars. It was such a freedom to be let go, to be just watching. And so that, coming to terms with that, that my own children had these abilities that I didn’t know existed because I didn’t grow up…We grew up to NOT go near that stuff. It really just opened me up to be more perceptive.
PAM: Yeah no, it is amazing, isn’t it? As soon as you start asking that one question, that first question, and then you realize that you can question things. Like you said before, you never questioned the system, or never question what we’re told, what we are taught, what the expectations are. You know, it is, it’s like opening up a whole new world. And at first, you don’t realize it, do you? It’s just like, “School is not working for him. We need to figure out something else.” But then once you’ve opened that can, that little bit of light, then all of the sudden it’s amazing what opens up. Just what you can question, what you can decide. And you know what I wanted to bring up that, that little, you said when you left, you said, what was it you said you were asking yourself? “Why would I invite this?”
TARA: Yeah, why would I choose to do this hard thing? Why would I…
PAM: Yeah! And that’s something, that’s a question I’ve found to be very helpful to ask. That’s a great question and tool to help me dive in and see different aspects of whatever. You know, if I chose this, why might I choose this, whatever it is. Beliefs of not, it’s such a valuable question just to turn something around and see it in different ways. And you know, they always talk about the silver lining, etcetera, but no, like you said, it’s our personal growth, right? We can find, by diving into something, instead of just taking fear and trying to fix it really fast and get away from it, like you said, running away, running away being the first reaction to challenges…Instead, sitting with it, like we talk on the podcast a lot about sitting with discomfort and trying to…
TARA: It is not comfortable!
PAM: Yeah no, it’s not comfortable!
TARA: It’s not comfortable
PAM: No, no, no. But then, twisting that, and like “If I chose this, what might be going on here? How might I see this in a different way? How might this be valuable?” And inside there is where I’ve found so much of my personal growth, and also getting to that point where you realize how much is involved in any situation. Right? Like you said, and I think that was part, that helped me lose judgement on other people, on other situations, on thinking that I know how they should solve the situation, thinking that I know better for someone, all that stuff kind of eventually melted away through coming up on these types of challenges, and really sitting with them for a while rather than trying to fix and run, or just run.
TARA: Or just run. Because that’s what we were doing.
PAM: Does that kind of make sense, because that’s what came up for me when you were talking about that?
TARA: That’s totally what came up. That was interesting to me, and even now I really work hard on it. When I run up against something that is difficult, right? Now that I’ve gone through all this, I’m like, ok, there’s obviously a reason that I’ve been given this difficult…it’s given me an opportunity to work on my reactivity, my thought process, observe myself.
It has allowed me also to, now from playing video games all the time, like, there’s no leveling up, right? I can’t get to the next level until all of these things are in order, the door will not open, and it’s probably best if it doesn’t. For instance, even starting the podcast, I had to do all of that work as a parent, and go through that, before I was even given that feeling that I should be able to, that I should do that podcast. I needed all that foundation. And even before that, I needed to work with those children with cerebral palsy, that helped me in my parenting.
You know, childhood is a level, and when you don’t have all the…when you don’t get to sit and be in that moment, if you go push yourself onto other levels without really embracing that, the levels below, it’s more than a struggle. You’ll get pushed right back. You’ll just keep learning the same lesson. I’ve learned that with reactivity.
So, this is a little bit interesting. When we went to Puerto Rico the time that I had found Ben Huett’s book. I come from a Puerto Rican family, I’m half. And to be honest, it was the very…very impoverished, very impovrished. And a lot of trauma, a lot of abuse, every generation. And where the family had said the abuse started was with my great grandmother, who was a single mother of eight. And I had asked a simple question. I said “Well, did anybody know her mother? Did my grandmother meet her mother?” And they said, “Oh no, they died when she was little. And then my great grandmother and her sister were given away, and then the brothers were kept with the father. And in that impoverished nature, you don’t know what happened to those children, but I know that she escaped. The family that she was adopted by, went and found her sister, and lived close to her father who would not let her live back with them. And then after I knew that little tidbit, I could trace it down the line. So, that’s been like a puzzle for me. And so that’s, ok, that’s why we do this, and that’s why everything is so reactive. It kept us safe for so long. She was terrified that somebody. She may have been abusing her children, and this is not right, but it was because she was terrified that they would be put in a position that they would be abused by, like sexually abused by other people. And
one other beautiful thing about my family, though, is that, well there are lots of beautiful things, but they are storytellers. So, we did get the stories, even if they were framed in a different way, we did get the stories, and I think the stories help a lot. Did I go off on a tangent?
PAM: No, no, that’s fine! That’s so interesting. Yeah, you know, and story. I started out talking about that, hearing your story, because for me, that’s one of the things that I love about this podcast is I love sharing people’s unschooling stories, their family’s experiences. And I think sharing our families’ stories and history really helps bring some context to not only ourselves, but some groundedness, some understanding of that foundation, you know, where it may be rotting, where there may be challenges, all that kind of stuff. Stories are so human. There’s a quote I read once that, “Stories are to humans what water is to fish”.
PAM: It just, it’s just part of our essence. So yes, I think stories are a very valuable part of the whole thing. And ok, so you mentioned your podcast, and how you were building that foundation, that level until you leveled into choosing to start that, and I love your tagline: “Openly exploring the intuitive connection of children.” Now, it’s not an unschooling focused podcast, but I was on talking about unschooling and intuition.
I’d just love to hear a little bit about that story, how that podcast evolved for you.
TARA: Ok, so my podcast. Your podcast came to me at a time that I needed it. I needed…I had met an unschooling group here, but I think I was listening to the podcast before I had even begun to look for an unschooling group here. I just needed to hear what other people were going through, even if it didn’t really align with what was going on at my house, that wasn’t a problem. Because with each episode and the way that they were framed, there may have been a nugget of what somebody else was doing, or just the way they were looking at things that helped.
Let’s say video games would be a good one, I mean I know that one’s easily to go to. Or, I dunno, cursing. It could really be anything. It gave me like a little nugget to take back, even if I was just thinking about it or to try a little something. I’d think, ‘Well, they did it, and they’re alive, and it’s OK.’ Then also to be able to listen to the older kids.
When I finally came to admit to myself that my children were highly intuitive, and that’s not really something you go out and wave on a banner, because not everybody believes in it, that’s fine, and also too I didn’t want to put them into a position that people are watching or looking or that they had to, that they had to prove to other people…
PAM: Or put expectations on them…
TARA: Put expectations, because we already know how that goes. And just to quickly circle back, with Dominic’s, his strength was feeling other people’s emotions. Eve could see, and Dominic could feel, so that’s clairsentient and Eve is more clairvoyant. That’s how I frame my podcast like yours is that I just needed to see other people doing it.
Well, what was interesting is a lot of people are still in the closet, and that’s ok. When I was looking, before I had even started the podcast, I had started talking to people who were in that field. Because I could find so few resources, when I started to talk to them, I’d be thinking, ‘It’s not a waste that it’s just for me, but it would be so much more helpful if it were out in the world and someone could pull from it if they need it.’
I have a very strong belief that if you need something and you ask for it, it will show up. So, my thing is, I put my work out there into the world, and if somebody needs it, it will show up for them. And I may never know and that’s not my business. And so that’s how I made the podcast.
There were two questions that I wanted to kind of answer or address or explore, because I’m not going to take the stance that I know everything. Explore. I wanted to explore what it was like to be in any kind of a relationship with any kind of intuitive child and how they are, what they are going through. And the second question was, as a parent, or anybody, why am I a parent and connected to this child, because there is a question that is deeper, there is a reason I am with them. It’s for me. It’s for them. And like we said, it’s an evolution of self in some way, and so I wanted to explore those reasons or those things and leave it loose and casual.
This was really important when I had you on, for me, because we do live a lifestyle in this unschooling life, where we do give them space to be, any child, to use their intuition, to follow what’s pulling for them, their own purpose. Right? Like, and it can go even as small as this, I’ve always been drawn to interviews. I always said in my head that I would love to interview anybody. I can talk to anybody. I’ve always had a strong interest in people. Or I like to write and when I go into Staples, I can stand in the stationery section and stand there for five hours, like there’s a natural pull for you to be pulled to your purpose.
Unschooling allows for that. I can see it for my own children. What I’m into puts no weight on what they’re into, and they are allowed to openly be pulled to their purpose. So, it’s giving so much more space for them to use their intuition, and what they can do with it is going to be wild! I think the next 20 years, and sure because of unschooling, but just in general, we are more open than ever, like the next twenty years are going to be….I can’t wait to see what comes of this.
PAM: Yeah no, I love that, I love that, you’re absolutely right, Tara, about how unschooling relates and gives that space for them to explore themselves, to see where they’re pulled, to feel a little tug, take a couple steps, and realize, no, I feel something over here, you know what I mean? To be able to learn that about themselves, and like you said, for us, being careful to not put the weight of our expectations or what we think would be good for them on them.
And you know, that, and then I always say that doesn’t mean not being involved with them or engaged with them, right? Because you are actively helping them take that next step toward whatever is pulling on them, so that they can experience it, right? Because the faster they can follow their intuition, just what is interesting to them, the faster they can engage with that and see what comes with it, really, right? They can just see if they want to take this next step or this step! We are actively helping them, rather than trying to direct their next step. Which is basically following their intuition. The other piece that I…go ahead.
TARA: And then also the feeling that “This is not…” For instance, I had a cookie business
And I, to give something like that up, that was going really well, to not attach failure to it. To have used…to now be able to look and use that mindset and be like, “I used this, this and this, I met this this and this person”, but to be able to feel when it’s not right or that’s just not where you need to be right now, and then not be like, “This is a failure.” Because I think so often that I watch with other children, it’s pass or fail, and so much of their self-worth is wrapped up in that. Wrapped up in the fail, and something I was doing it until my thirties, right, so I’m glad to have let it go…
PAM: Exactly. And that’s why I like the exploring concept. I didn’t even realize that when I first started my website, I put a treasure map as the image on the homepage, right? So, I hand-drew a treasure-map, and I had different locations on the map just being, “This is my blog, this is this”, and they were all clickable, and then that evolved into calling my podcast exploring unschooling. I really got to that no judgement piece, but also that we are always exploring, that there’s not a right and wrong answer, there may be…there’s definitely a right and wrong answer for us, but that’s what we’re exploring to find, right? What works well for us? What interests us? What meshes well with us as a person, our demeanor, our personality, our likes and dislikes personally? Alongside, you’re learning about enmeshing all that with the things out there in the world that interest you. And how does all that fit together? It’s all exploring, isn’t it? And it’s for ourselves as individuals. It’s each of our journey to take. There’s no right or wrong from a higher point of view, you know what I mean?
TARA: No, no, no, not at all It’s just learning how to navigate yourself. And that was also always interesting too. Now looking back on Dominic with his really hard time, he was always calling me out on things that did not feel right, and if I had kept going on that path, I would totally have entangled him to not trust himself. So, for instance we’d be like, “We have to get up and go to school”. “We don’t have to get up and go to school!” That, you know, he’d be yelling at me. “Well, you have to eat this dinner.” “But WHY do I have to eat this dinner?” And of course, I push it to the degree of this poor child having phobias about it, but when we don’t let them trust that, then it entangles them to not trust themselves later. And then they go into adulthood and they don’t trust themselves and that’s, that’s why intuition is so important to me.
PAM: And you know, even when challenging times come up, you don’t have to create these challenges for your kids in childhood so that they’ll toughen up and learn it. Things will come up and you’ll help them process through that, like sitting through that discomfort, right? It’s discomfort for us because it’s our child, but it’s also, of course, discomfort for them, and we are sitting with them and helping them find ways through that.
For when in life, these challenging moments are going to come up, and they are going to have low moments, etcetera, but they’ve had the experience working through them and coming through the other end, so even when you don’t yet know how it’s going to look, you’ve had some experience working through them.
TARA: Yeah no, it’s the level up! Like the, for the kids: “Look I crawled! And I fell a bunch of times and I attach no emotional turmoil to it.” And you know, “Look! I challenged myself on the monkey bars! OK, that worked!”, and I didn’t attach…at least now in this life with my kids, like, we don’t have to attach any emotional turmoil to it. Sure I had to go back and redo all the damage that it did, but it, and then it just slowly goes into other things, like, making a YouTube channel, or asking somebody out on their first date, or you just answer yes and no or not…they can use it as a navigation, when you’re realizing it, it’s just a navigation tool. That’s it!
PAM: Exactly. It’s all information and even, your feelings. All that stuff, it’s stuff that you can bring together and just wait for yourself and take that next little step and see what happens, you know what I mean? I know you do.
I would love to know what your favorite thing is about your unschooling days right now?
TARA: Snuggling in the morning is my favorite thing in the world.
TARA: Really, I am the world’s best morning snuggler. That, and we just hatched ducklings, and if you want to lose all the memory on your phone, hatch ducklings with kids, because all you do is take pictures of them. And my hope is travel, here at some point. But you know, don’t have expectations about anything.
I think just being present for all the stuff that I wouldn’t have been present for. Like Eve learning to read, and actually Eve and Dominic are both learning to read right now, on their own, and just like watching them spit out words that they see and they’re like, “Look what I did!” And I’m like, “You did do it!” and I was THERE! You know?
PAM: Oh, that’s awesome. I love it. I love it. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, Tara.
TARA: Thanks for having me.
PAM: It was so fun, so fun. So fun to dive into your story. And before we go, where is the best place for people to connect with you online and maybe check out your podcast?
TARA: My podcast “A Mother’s Intuition”, and you can find that on wherever podcasts are found. And then you can find me on Instagram at A Mother’s Intuition. And then I’m on Facebook loosely at A Mother’s Intuition. And then I have a website. You can find me! I’m around!
PAM: Surprise! She’s around. And I’ll be sure to put links to all that in the show notes as well. Thanks very much Tara! Have a great day!
TARA: Thanks, you too. Thanks Pam.