I set out to conduct this interview with my middle kid, MJ, who always seems to get lost in the shuffle. And I stumbled through what I would ask her: in my head, on paper, up at night when I couldn’t sleep–you name it. I realized I was missing the point of her speaking about strong girls because I was so caught up in the message and worried she wouldn’t have anything to say about it. Or worse, would show my camera, me and the entire world that she wasn’t strong (gasp). Or that she hadn’t thought about it. Because, ehhh, well she is a pretty quiet kid.
I mean, god forbid I have a member of the family, let alone a girl, who doesn’t know how to kick the doors in on life.
But she showed me otherwise. And it wasn’t until she was paddling around, waiting for the others to swim away, that she just outright came to me with who she was and what she was after. I spent several days floundering over how to even bring the subject up–and here she was dishing it out, exactly her way. Soft spoken. Tiny. And super sure of herself. All I had to do was listen. And learn to be there for her more. And quit trying to put a name to who or what she is. She is MJ, and that’s that.
Back when I used to attempt corporate career momlife (haha), I went to a team building event. It was all about how extroverts (like me) and introverts (like MJ) can work together. Extroverts stereotypically like to talk and talk and talk and overshare even if you didn’t ask. Introverts stereotypically like to keep to themselves, are shy and have nothing to say or contribute.
But if the extroverts would just stop sucking all the air out of the room (i.e. shut up and listen), the introverts would have a moment to process and draw in enough breath to respond without their 30 seconds of fame being up.
MJ is a good exercise in the art of me shutting up. And of not worrying about her anymore–because I shouldn’t, she’s got this. She is the exact opposite of what you’d assume strength to be–stereotypically: She’s like 10 lbs soaking wet. She’s long and lean like a string bean. She keeps a detailed journal jammed under her mattress and she reads books that are thousands of pages long. She has an obsession with mechanical pencils. Quiet indeed–UNTIL she opens her mouth and her brain starts showing me up. Which is exactly what I love about her.
Because there’s nothing better than finding strength and tenacity in the unexpected.