PAM: Welcome. I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca. And today I’m here with Martha Delmore. Hi Martha.
MARTHA: Hi. Thanks so much for having me.
PAM: Thanks so much for saying yes. And just a little introduction for people. Jen Keefe was on the podcast a few episodes ago and she mentioned how much she enjoys watching you in action with your young kids. So, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to connect with you and I was thrilled when you said yes!
To get us started Martha, can you share a little bit about you and your family?
MARTHA: I have a four and a seven-year-old. We co-own a home with my parents, which is kind of a weird thing. So, I live in my home. We’ve got my parents and then my two young kids and my husband. My four-year-old is the spiciest, fieriest—she’s just a firecracker and she was born that way. She’s been that way since she was born.
She spends all her time—well as much as she can—riding our horses. She gets on that eleven hundred pound horse and bosses her around like it’s nobody’s business. It’s amazing.
And my seven-year-old, he is incredible. He is kind and funny and he moves through life with his body all the time. He is the most kinesthetic person, maybe just aside from my husband, that I’ve ever met. He’s always climbing and bouncing and running and skating and he’s just moving. He experiences life through his body which is so fun to watch.
And then my husband owns his own business. So, he’s home a fair amount and it allows us a little bit of time to play as a family—more than we would if he was working a more traditional job. So, we just spent a lot of time, the kids and I and Joey, just playing outside. We live in Colorado, so we’ve got lots of fun outdoor stuff. We live about a mile from a lake and so we spend lots of time catching tadpoles and frogs. All that kind of stuff, that’s who we are I suppose.
PAM: That sounds spectacular. I love the connections too because as you described your son, he sounds a lot like my son Michael. When you talk about always moving and very kinesthetic with his learning and touching. As I’ve watched Michael over the years, he’s always been drawn to physical things. For example, karate and the performance martial arts and then into the stunt work. I remember I when he was a younger teen and we were going to pick up a friend and I was taking them to the Monkey Vault, the parkour gym. He and a friend were waiting for their third friend and his one friend was sitting on the chair on the porch and Michael was just bouncing up and down the stairs, jumping up and down, up and down, up and down. He wasn’t even still for a minute. He was still having conversations, doing everything, but he’s always moving.
MARTHA: Yeah, yeah. Sometimes when he is the most engaged, he’s also the most the most physical.
MARTHA: I would say he’s definitely the most distracted when he’s in somewhere that he needs to sit still. So, it’s been really fun to watch. It’s so different than how I work. And so, it’s just interesting to see the way we’re all wired a little bit differently.
PAM: Yeah. I find it really fascinating too and it’s so interesting to see how different people love to engage with the world. And just seeing them and all the different situations and seeing that their essence is always there.
I would love to hear how you discovered your passion for treating children as whole people so early in your parenting journey.
PAM: I think that’s awesome.
MARTHA: Yeah. It was a journey for me. I have always loved kids and I nannied, gosh I think I was eleven years old when I started nannying and so I’ve always been around kids. I liked them even when I was a kid, I like the little ones. And so, I have some older siblings and my husband also has older siblings and so most of them had babies before us and most of them followed fairly traditional path of just kind of mainstream parenting. They let them cry it out and did the sleep training and all of that. And it just felt agitating to me watching it. But I also was like, ‘This is just what you do.’ It is what you do in this culture with babies.
And then my sister in law, Lisa, had her first baby. She is also a fabulous firecracker of a woman and she just threw all of that out the window and she was like, ‘When my baby cries, I’m going to pick him up and I’m going to wear him and I’m going to feed on demand.’ And she did all of these things that I’ve not seen done before. And it was years before I had kids but I remember watching her and just being so curious and so in awe of what she was doing and people were giving her a fair amount of pushback. The family members were like, “What are you doing you need to let them cry it out. Don’t let him sleep in your bed.” And she just kind of did her thing and she ended up finding some research. She found Dr. Sears and stuff. But in general, she was just said, “I’m going to do what I feel is right.” And that was the first time I’d seen it done and it felt so liberating.
When I had my own, I felt like she kind of paved the way and took some of the heat off. So, yeah, I think she was the main reason that I was at least exposed early to this way of parenting and ultimately it just came down to seeing her kids as people, to recognizing their needs as needs and not something they needed to be trained out of.
MARTHA: And then as I had my own babies and I started researching more I found a fair amount of literature out there and available about childhood development and how our brains work and books like “The Whole Brain Child” and “No Drama Discipline” that talk about, childhood development but also that our kids are not manipulating us. That when our kids are crying or when they’re melting, there is an underlying need that is not being met. And so, I loved having first Lisa and then there’s just a lot of science that backs it up. Which for me didn’t really matter, I would have done it regardless I think but it helped with the naysayers to be able to point them in a direction of some science.
PAM: It’s true. That’s the more conventional proof right that people are more comfortable with, when some expert has said that it’s OK. That’s the really interesting thing that I play around with when it comes to experts because the information they are sharing is interesting. On one hand, it’s interesting to know more detail about child development and all that kind of stuff, that’s really fascinating. Just like with unschooling it’s really interesting to learn about learning and to see why unschooling creates such an amazing environment for learning to happen. But then there’s that piece about the expertise, as in really it is about our experiences because that’s our life. This is our reality. This is how we are. It’s great to see the connections with the expertise. But you can always find experts that are going to be telling you the whole range of things. There are tons of experts out there with conventional parenting advice.
PAM: So, that’s why I love to bring it back to our experiences. How is it working in our relationships with our own children? Using that as our starting place.
MARTHA: Absolutely. And the reality is when I think about my kids as babies and certainly now, there was just no way that I could have kept the connection between me and my kids and also done a more mainstream style of parenting. At least it wouldn’t have been as beautiful as it is. The times that I tried to, it never worked. They were both kids who needed to be in bed with me as babies, they slept the best, I slept the best. But they would just scream and scream and scream when I laid them down. And once I got to the point where I was like, I’m just going to wear them in a wrap or I’m just going to let them sleep here, there was just peace back in our relationship. So, for me more than any of the books, it just became like Lisa, a lesson in seeing my kids.
PAM: That’s great. So, I take it from what you’re talking about, that’s really kind of in the wheelhouse of attachment parenting. Yes?
MARTHA: Yes. Oh, for sure.
I was curious to know which aspects of the attachment parenting philosophy that you found to be most valuable for your relationships with your kids? Just curious about which pieces you found really helpful and how they play out in your days. How do you see it in action?
MARTHA:Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s interesting even thinking about it. I feel like to think about the main aspects, I have to tease it apart more than I normally would. But I think the connection or the empathy piece is probably the biggest factor that comes out of that.
And really just in seeing them. And so, my 7-year-old, for instance, is definitely old enough to get his own shoes or make himself a snack but he feels super loved and super cared for when I do those things for him. And so, I don’t do that because I have to but I know that it’s a way that I can love him and I know this because I spend enough time with him and I just work really hard to see them.
And there are times, and I guess that sounds so cliché, but when they’re melting on the floor which does happen in our home despite the amount of peace we have there’s still big melts. When I can step back from myself and recognize that there’s zero manipulation they’re just needing something, whether that’s a little bit of extra love by me getting their shoes or they’ve missed a snack or being able to enter those places with empathy. It’s been a game changer.
It takes out the power struggle dynamic from our relationship. And that is just such a gift for all of us. When I’m not feeling like they’re constantly trying to manipulate me and I’m not looking at them as something that I need to control in life.
PAM: Yeah. That’s a huge piece. For me in my journey, that was one of the big shifts as well. To realize that they’re not trying to control us and that their reactions, what felt like power struggle is a great way to describe it. Because you’re trying to get them to do something and then their reaction you think is trying to manipulate you but it is a totally logical reaction to the control that you’re trying to put on top of them.
Once you start to see that you can’t unsee it. When you start seeing things from their perspective and they are just trying to communicate, they’re not trying to manipulate. You’re totally right, that is a game changer piece. And to be able to meet them with that empathy wherever they are. That’s amazing isn’t it?
MARTHA: I don’t know how to have that authentic empathy if my posture towards them is one in which I’m certain that they’re trying to control me. Which is why for me it was so vital in being able to reach them or engage with them in that empathy, to let go of that belief that they are like trying to control me or that there needed to be a control aspect in that situation.
PAM: Yeah, when you think about kids and how they’re expressing their needs. They really, really aren’t trying to piss you off. They’re not trying to frustrate you. They’re not. Not at all.
Once you start looking at things through their eyes, you remember. It’s important to be spending time with them because you know the three things that have already gone wrong today. And now getting their shoes on, which maybe they’ve done all sorts of times, now is that last straw. To understand each other at that level, to be able to meet them, understanding where they are in this particular moment it’s so valuable, isn’t it?
MARTHA: Yeah, yeah. Just one other thought on that, part of it is stepping outside of the childism discussion but if my husband, for instance, was just having a hard day and was like “Can you grab my shoes or can you grab my water?” There’s no part of me that would be like, “Grab it yourself. You’re totally capable.” But I don’t know how many times I’ve watched that kind of struggle and even at times been like, “Just get it yourself kiddo.” But that’s a different way than I would ever respond to any of the adults in my life. And so just recognizing that difference too has been part of my journey.
PAM: Yeah, I think that is a shift too. My impression is people are thinking, ‘I want them to learn. I want them to learn to take care of themselves. They have to learn how to get these things for themselves and do these things for themselves.’
But as your coming to this style of parenting and into unschooling, you realize that the person they are now is more important than whatever lesson it is that you are wanting to impart. And you come to see that there’s always time for those moments.
There will be the time when they go and grab the thing. But that’s the key, right? It’s taking it back to their timetable. And that’s why when you talk to people coming to unschooling, I say to give it six months, give it a year so that you see all those moments between when they want help. And, like you said, it’s an expression of love for them. Time helps us see when we’re there to help them and the times when they’re really gung-ho and they’re taking it on themselves. You have to see the whole gamut to realize that it’s all there.
MARTHA: And I think there’s such a big difference between kids too. My four-year-old is probably more organized than me. She’s constantly folding and organizing and picking up dishes and it’s just how she’s wired. She loves it. I find it very helpful. (laughing)
But my seven-year-old isn’t. We haven’t done “chores.” We just kind of contribute to the house. We’ve not done forced chores at all. And I remember so many discussions with my husband and with my parents they’re like, “How is Max going to learn to clean up and how is he going to learn to bring his dishes in and put them in the dishwasher, if you’re not making him do it?” And I just read a lot and listened a lot and I was like, “I’m pretty sure it’s going to happened. I’m pretty sure he’s going to.” And within the last six months or so, he’ll get really excited and he’ll run in and he’ll rinse his dish and put it in the dishwasher and dance back to wherever he was going. But there’s never been a struggle over it. And at the same time my daughter who’s three years younger has been doing it for two years because she just loves to do it. So, that’s been an interesting thing to watch as well and see that if I would have been more impatient there could have been years of struggle with my son. I’m glad I didn’t engage in it because now he’s there on his own, without years of struggle.
But just the idea of giving our kids time and knowing that some of our kids need a different amount of time to arrive at a similar place to others.
PAM: Yeah and that time varies depending on what it is too. Right? Obviously. I think one of the hard shifts is going from our timeline and what our expectations are at various ages. So, it’s so funny, taking your daughter for an example, she’s really early with wanting to tidy things up and that kind of stuff but I imagine there’s other things that she doesn’t do on the more typical timeline. Yet, as parents we’re like, “Oh great!” for all the things they’re doing ahead and pushing for all the things they’re behind. So they can’t win, can they, when you approach it that way?
MARTHA: Absolutely. Yeah.
PAM: You mentioned that your parents are living with you guys and my dad’s living here too. I really enjoy the various generations all together but I know it can be challenging when our parents or extended family aren’t familiar with our style of parenting, as you were seeing with your sister in law when she first started.
I was wondering if you could share some of the ways that you’ve handled those kinds of comments or questions from extended family?
MARTHA: Yeah, a couple different ways, depending on how it’s being presented to me. As the unschooling goes, my parents thought I was crazy and we were living together. We co-own a home, so it was important that, at the very least, they understand it a little bit because in order for my kids to thrive, I felt like that was really important.
So, we actually went to an unschooling conference and they came with us. My mom is willing to read quite a bit so she’d also read and listen to your podcast and some other podcasts and was learning about it that way. But my dad was kind of like, “I don’t know. None of this makes sense.” And he wasn’t super interested in reading. But he went to a dad’s group at the unschooling conference for whatever reason the communication, the dialogue that happened there was transformative for him. And he came back to the hotel room that night and was like “I wish we could have done this with you guys. What a gift.”
That was big shift related to unschooling, although still even today before this we were having a conversation and he’s like “I just don’t know how Max is going to learn to read.” And I said, “Well, I have yet to hear of an unschooled child who doesn’t eventually learn to read. And if you want some other resources, I can point you in that direction.” So, there’s still some curiosity maybe about how some of it works.
As far as the parenting style goes, that was a little bit more challenging even. I think people do the best they can with what they know and so our parents, my parents did the best they could with what they knew and primarily what they knew was what the doctors were telling them at that time, which was pretty authoritarian.
So, I actually think that watching the style of parenting might have been a bit triggering even in that it maybe triggered some grief. For my mom, specifically, I think she experienced that more than my dad, thinking about the way that they parented. And so, there’s that and both some grief but also healing in watching the way that I parent. We’ve had those conversations. But early on when I would get pushback or maybe unsolicited advice, I’d say “Thank you so much for your opinion. What we’re doing is working well for us right now. But I’ll take into consideration what you’re saying if it stops working.” And after about the fourth time I said that I received a little bit less unsolicited advice or it came in a more gentle fashion and a little bit less judgmental.
So, we joke about that now because if I pull that line out my mom says, “Okay I’ll chill out.” So, that’s kind of how we’ve navigated that stuff.
PAM: Yeah that’s great. That was quite similar to my experience as well. I mean for me it was important to have that level of confidence, because if I went into those situations and I was questioning things myself or I was asking for advice, of course they are going to give me the advice that they know. And they’re trying to be helpful.
So, to be able to just say you know “We’re happy.” That was one of the first things I would say, “Things are working well,” but the “for now.” Right? Because number one, you’re not drawing a hard line because we too have no idea what’s going to happen in the future. And people become so much more defensive when it’s presented like ‘this is the way we’re doing it and we’re doing it forever and screw you.’ That kind of attitude, of course, is not conducive to connection and an ongoing relationship with them, which is what you’re developing or maintaining with family.
PAM: I just took that and said, “We’re happy with the way things are going now.” And the kids would be running around playing and they look like they’re happy, they were happy.
PAM: That piece was the most important piece. And just acknowledging their interest, that they care. And that we’ll take that into consideration if things start looking different or whatever. But that seemed to be one of the best ways to totally get across that I don’t need, I’m not looking for advice. That’s probably the best way to put it. I’m not looking for advice. “Things are going really well right now we’re happy and thanks.” And then it’s like “Pass the bean dip kind of thing” or you know “What movie did you see lately?” Or something like that. Any kind of switch in the conversation so that it doesn’t become personal about them, it’s just the topic.
MARTHA: Yeah. And that’s what I was going to say, I don’t feel upset when I think about the way I was raised, there’s no animosity. Sometimes my mom has had such a big shift in the way that she parents, even us as adult kids. But there was never any ill will in the advice that she was giving me. I think it helps to remember so that it didn’t become a conflict between us. And, like you said, we could keep the connection there as well while still raising my kids in a way that, for now, was working really well for us.
PAM: For me, it was just that little switch like we talked about doing with our kids, seeing things from their perspective. I can acknowledge this looks really weird for you. I can take that piece and realize that if they’re grumpy or snarky about it that has to do with them. That doesn’t have to do with me.
MARTHA: Yeah totally.
PAM: Also, I don’t have to take it personally. And I’d remember the times my cousins have thought I was weird. From the time I was a teenager, I just remember, “You’re weird, you’re weird.” So, it’s just nothing new.
MARTHA: There is something lovely though I feel like doing this kind of parenting which is maybe not mainstream. And then unschooling which is also not mainstream. There’s something lovely about finally being able to float down the river of realizing, “It’s OK.” It looks different than most of mainstream. And I love it. I love the life we’re living. And so just let go of that desire to conform maybe to that mainstream is lovely.
PAM: And that when you dig deep enough that we still have that desire for approval, I think maybe that can be underneath there. You want your parents to approve of your choices and your brothers and sisters. That would be nice if they thought what you were doing was somewhat cool when you know for us it’s super cool. But to be able to release that piece is really, really valuable. And so, you brought that up and I’d love to talk about that transition from attachment parenting to unschooling.
I’m curious how you actually discovered unschooling in there and whether or not you felt that your days changed as your son reach school age?
MARTHA: Yeah, it was kind of a long journey for me. And there was a lot of judgment on my end towards homeschoolers. My background is secondary education.
My plan from an early age, like sixth or seventh grade was to teach high school English. And I went to college and I loved my education classes. I loved my English classes. I could spend days in the books. And I worked at a high school and loved it. And then I had a kid. And even at the high school there was a posture of, ‘Those home schoolers or such, what idiots. Why would they homeschool their kids? I can teach them to write a great essay. Why would they think they could do that better?’ To the point that even my husband who wasn’t really pro or against homeschooling would be like “What is your deal? Chill out.” and I was like, “They’re just… Why would they do that?” And then I had Max and I was suddenly like, “Why would I send him to school? Why would I send him into pre-school? He doesn’t want to leave me, he’s 3 years old. Why would I send him the teachers who don’t even know him for three to six hours a day?” And then he got towards school age and I was like why would we send him away for eight hours a day? Which my husband and I still laugh about.
During that time I also met a homeschool family and I knew the kids before I knew that they were home schooled and I loved the kids. The way they interacted with us as adults was distinctly different than other kids. And so, I was a bit blown away to realize they were homeschooled because it was so different than what I had been picturing. And that was probably a step in my journey as well. And so, when I brought up, I guess my son was about three or four to my husband the possibility of home schooling and he was totally on board with it. He kind of goes with the flow and a lot of ways. Although he was just like “Karma coming back to bite ya.” (Laughing)
So, I started looking at homeschooling and I read about all the different kinds of ways to educate your kids or a lot of them at least. And I was like, “I’m going to home school. But those unschoolers, are super weird. I’m never doing that.”
And so I met with the first family I knew who was doing a classical curriculum, and so I was like, “Well, this sounds fabulous.” And I met with them and I was like, ‘Wow it’s really intense academically. There’s so much memorization, how neat.’ And then when I thought about doing it with my son, I knew this will never work. There will be so much conflict if I try and teach him this way. And so, then I was like well maybe let’s look at the Montessori method. And so, I did a lot of research and I thought, ‘This is perfect.’
And I met with a woman who was homeschooling her kids in the Montessori method and she was talking about her day and the different methods and how they looked and I was like, ‘Woo, I’m not sure this is all going to work.’
So, I went back to the drawing board and I was like “Waldorf. That’s it. It’s outside it’s in nature. This will be perfect.” And then I met with the woman who was doing Waldorf with her family. Actually, a woman and her husband and as we went through what that looks like for them to really keep with the Waldorf methodology, I again was like, ‘There’s going to be struggles, just knowing who Max is.’
Finally, I just kind of tumbled into the unschooling realm. And I was shocked that all the things I learned in my education classes about how human beings learn melded beautifully with the unschooling philosophy. When we are engaged and when we’re interested, that’s where deep learning can take place. And all the things that I would try to make happen in my classroom, in a 50 minute time period. Trying to get the engagement, trying to get the interest, so that learning could take root and interest could be sparked, was just the life of the unschoolers.
And so that’s how we tumbled into unschooling. And once I started reading, I read your books and I found Sandra Dodd. I read some Peter Grey and it just all made so much sense to me and was the thing that most aligned with what I had learned about learning in college. So, that’s how we ended up unschooling.
PAM: That is super interesting. So, from your attachment parenting days into now your unschooling days with Max. Have you seen a difference in your focus or in how the days roll? What do you think?
MARTHA: You know, I don’t think there was ever much of a change. I think what probably shifted the most was my perspective. I think as he got to be school age, I was a little bit more… At the beginning of each school year, I can feel myself getting a little bit more anxious. I can feel myself comparing a little bit more, like X year olds are doing this or Max is doing this instead of that. But as soon as I start reading more and remembering why we’re doing what we’re doing, I can release that a little bit. But our days never much changed because our days started out as, I mean from the time he was little, being connected and living a life where we just followed what was exciting to us. And that includes, whatever interests us and kind of staying there for as long as it’s interesting and then dabbling in something else. So, I don’t think our actual day looked a lot different. It’s probably more of an internal landscape as far as what looks different.
PAM: That’s such a great point. And that doesn’t surprise me because from attachment parenting where you’re already looking at staying connected and trust and empathy and all those things in the relationship, the focus is on the relationship. And it’s interesting, that changed internally for us when they kind of hit school age because I imagine maybe it’s the actual action of the days doesn’t change but now you’re looking more at the learning. And that processing, you’re talking about that process of remembering how important the relationship is and that the learning happens. But each time it’s that realization. ‘Oh, I can see the learning happening. I can see that he’s learning this, learning that.’ The comparison thing and then working through and following the interests, keeping the relationship strong and connected. All those things are what lie underneath the learning happening.
MARTHA: Yeah. You know it was really interesting because last year was the first year where we live that we had to do any kind of reporting and at the end of the year, I had to write a summary of what he had done academically during the year. And I went back, I got a little twitchy, and went back to the state standards and was looking at them. I didn’t necessarily need to because technically we don’t have to follow those and we just have to show growth. But as I’m looking at them, I realized that just living a life together, an intentional life together, we had met or exceeded so many of them. A trip to Target, we’re covering maths and we’re covering economics and civics and geography and all kinds of stuff. I think I’m always looking for the learning but just pausing and looking really intentionally at that was startling to me in a great way. As far as how much we learn by just doing life intentionally.
PAM: And I think that’s an important step too because that’s how we build trust in unschooling in this lifestyle. It’s not about ignoring learning. We want to cultivate that learning lifestyle, because it’s fun. And that’s the other piece too, we realize this is fun for human beings. Human beings like to learn. We get to learn. All of a sudden, I was rekindling all my excitement and interest in doing things and living and learning in the world alongside them. That was another revelation that was really helpful.
MARTHA: Absolutely. Just remembering that innate desire to be curious that we all have. It’s been so fun.
PAM: That’s really cool. And speaking of fun:
What is your favourite thing about your unschooling days right now?
MARTHA: I can’t even think of a favourite. It’s summertime right now so we’re playing a lot. It’s been so fun. It’s just so fun to play. I feel like our days are filled with play and I felt like I spent so many years not having that. And so, I think my favourite part of our days is that we get to wake up and play. We play with the horses. We play with the tadpoles. We play at the trampoline park or the parkour park. I think both of my kids have a really fun sense of humour and so there’s banter that way. I love not having pressure to be places that we don’t want to be or struggle in the mornings to get somewhere that we don’t want to get. And so, I think just the gift of living a life that is filled with joy is so much fun. And I don’t know how we could have done it with a different path, for us. So yeah, I think just the freedom to play.
PAM: I love that. I love that. And you mentioned your kids’ humour and stuff. That is the cool piece, isn’t it? There’s the whole, ‘kids are people too,’ but kids are fun to hang out with.
MARTHA: Yes. I enjoy them. I really enjoy them as people. We go on vacation together. We’re lucky to get to do that. And I don’t wish that they could be somewhere else. I think my life is enriched by being with them. And that’s a relief. I’m glad because they’re with me for at least 18 years and maybe longer, we’ll see. So, I’m glad that I enjoy them. I’m not wishing the time away, maybe a few specific moments but in general no. (laughing) I love being with them.
PAM: Yes, I mean there’s always those moments that aren’t fun per se, but can you imagine having to go through those moments with a different kind of relationship? I mean how much harder those could be. I love that. And I love how you’ve talked about the relationship with them and developing that connection and that is just going to take you right through your whole lives together.
And I think that’s one of the most important shifts because conventionally, so often people will say, “I couldn’t hang out with my kids that much.” But when you take that pressure off of having to follow the schedule of things that nobody is particularly interested in doing but we have to do, when you take that layer out, we are all different people, aren’t we? Not just the kids are different, we are different people as parents too.
And that we can live together, feel like we’re all people living together with our different levels of experience and knowledge about the world and everything. It’s not about parents becoming children.
MARTHA: Yes, right.
PAM: We aren’t throwing out who we are. It’s literally all of us living together as human beings. Right?
MARTHA: Yeah. I think that was part of the transition into I guess maybe attachment parenting or peaceful parenting or whatever the terminology would be is that it’s not like anarchy or some crazy circus. Sometimes it feels like it, in the best ways, but it’s not. I think that’s where the relationship piece comes in.
I would say it’s the relationships that contribute to the peace in our home. It’s not the lack of discipline or punishment that contributes to this crazy, wild, anarchist situation that we have. I think the relationships contribute to the peace, and part of that relationship is figuring out how much I have to give and when I need to pull back and refuel for a few minutes or have a breather or do some self-care in the way that I’m talking to myself.
All of that is a dance and I think if I’m only ever pouring out, I will eventually have nothing else to give and then it won’t work. So, part of that relationship with them has also been kind of healing myself and figuring out who I am so that in the house we can all just live a life that’s filled with joy. I just think the idea that we’re all different unique individuals living together and developing this beautiful relationship. has contributed to this style of life working well for us.
PAM: I love that piece you talked about regarding ourselves too. I know that ‘authentic’ is another word that gets bandied around a lot. When we are our authentic, our real selves with our kids, without putting any pressure on them to meet our needs. That’s not what it’s about. Not trying to manipulate them to do things to make us feel better. It is not what we are talking about. But you were talking about self-talk. That level of authentic engagement with our kids means so much more self-awareness for us. We need to understand ourselves so that we can understand where we are. How empty our well is at this moment and not unrealistically say yes to taking on things that would just completely deplete us.
PAM: But having that conversation, “I am way too tired to do that today but can we do that in the morning? I know I’ll be ready for it then.” Just having those kinds of conversations with them. That’s what I mean when I talk about living authentically and that’s where you’re really living together and they’re learning about understanding other people’s feelings, other people and where they are in that moment. So, it’s not about unthinkingly saying yes, that’s where you’re anarchy comes in, when you have to say yes all the time. And you’re depleting yourself and things have just gone crazy because you’ve got nothing left to be engaged enough with them so that they don’t go over the edge. And then you’re over the edge and there’s your anarchy.
MARTHA: And I think living that way, it does give them an awareness of other people’s needs and just where those lines might be. But it also gives them permission, I think, to be able to say, “I can’t do this right now.” And also my kids will, which I love about them, when I get a bit short or I can be a bit snarky when I’m tired or overwhelmed both of my kids will put their hands on their hips and be like, “Mom, I don’t like when you talk to me like that.” And I’m so glad that they know like they can say, “I don’t like to be treated this way.” And typically, it makes me bust out laughing and kind of brings me back to the present moment but I think all of that just models healthy human relationships.
PAM: I love that. When we have the relationship, that openness where they can say, they can point out, “That’s weird.” or “I don’t like the way you’re talking to me.” Or “I feel bad when you say that.” or “Please stop talking.” when you’re feeling the need to keep explaining things.
MARTHA: I have definitely heard that one, “Too many words.” I was just using too many words.
PAM: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me Martha! It was so much fun I really appreciate it.
MARTHA: Thank you.
PAM: And before we go, where can people find you and connect with you online?
MARTHA: Primarily Facebook. I’m on Facebook, Martha Delmore. Yeah that’s probably the main place to find me right now.
PAM: That’s awesome. Thanks, so much Martha. Have a great day.
MARTHA: Thank you, you as well.
PAM: Thank you.