Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Mom
I heard this interview in the car on the Friday of Mother’s Day weekend, and it’s delightful. Please take 13 minutes to listen.
Here’s my big takeaway from Toni Tyson: Be vigilant.
She said it was a full time, 24/7 job to help her kids navigate through life as a black family in the city. There were many instances when Neil was discouraged from pursuing opportunities, either because he was black or because someone didn’t think he was smart enough.
She said when things came up, they had to “get on it immediately,” and that it was a constant vigilance to keep her kids focused so they didn’t grow bitter.
As a parent, I don’t deal with race issues, but I deal with tween girl drama, raging hormones, gossip, insecurities, identity issues, and the like.
I immediately connected with Toni Tyson’s description of being a vigilant parent and “getting on” that stuff as it happens. It’s emotionally exhausting and time consuming, and sometimes I wonder if other parents think I’m a little too involved, but it’s an investment in their character I trust will pay off as my kids get older.
So often when I hear or read interviews like this about amazing people, I feel inspired for a moment, but then I feel discouraged because my life doesn’t come close to measuring up, and there’s little about their story that I can connect and apply to my own situation.
I felt differently about this interview.
Toni doesn’t come off as some kind of superhero with superhuman character strengths or qualities that I can look up to and appreciate but never attain. Rather, she comes off as intentional and vigilant with a side of discernment about people.
And that’s something I can relate to and act upon.