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Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda opened up to TODAY's Sheinelle Jones about what it was like raising composer, performer and all-around superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of "Hamilton" and "In the Heights."
Towns-Miranda said that when her son was growing up, both she and her husband Luis worked, which meant they "tag-teamed" caring for Lin-Manuel and his older sister Luzacita.
"I think we kept our finger on the pulse of everything that was going on," Towns-Miranda said. "We never missed a parent-teacher meeting. We never missed a play or activity that they were in, a graduation, a show. That was first and foremost on our schedules."
Towns-Miranda, a psychologist, said that she also helped manage her son's childhood struggle with anxiety.
"Every night I would tuck him into bed, and I would ask him, what was the best thing that happened in school? What was the worst thing that happened in school? And depending on how he was feeling and if he was having any difficulty falling asleep, I would talk him through some relaxation exercises and breathing exercises to get him to sleep," Towns-Miranda said. "So I basically tucked him into bed every night. Despite having worked all those jobs, that was one thing I never missed with either of my children."
Miranda has often spoken of his relationship with his parents, but Towns-Miranda said that his older sister was also a major influence on him as a child. While it took Luzacita "a while to adjust to him" after he was born, they eventually grew close.
"Eventually Luzacita started sharing her music," Towns-Miranda said. "She grew up with the original rap stars ... And so he's very grateful to her for having introduced him to that genre."
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While Luzacita shared the rap music that would influence some of Miranda's most iconic works, like "In the Heights" and "Hamilton," Towns-Miranda and her husband frequently played musical soundtracks, like the soundtrack to "Camelot." Dance and music were an essential part of their household.
"Since we were busy often, he basically was free to create whatever he wanted," Towns-Miranda said. "And he was constantly using a video machine or a tape recorder. One of the earliest recordings we have is a little Fisher-Price recorder when the Cabbage Patch Kids were very popular. And he made up a Cabbage Patch song to it ... and I forget the lyrics, but he basically started composing, you know, off the top of his head from the time he was very tiny."
By the time Miranda was in elementary school, it was clear to his parents that he had a future on the stage.
"He must have been in fourth or fifth grade ... There was a performance in a church from his school and all the kids were performing up on the church's alter," Towns-Miranda recalled. "And from the time he started singing, I swore there was like, this aura about him, because he embodied every single song. And I remember leaving that church thinking to myself 'Did anybody else just see the show I saw? Oh my God. To me, that was it. That was the moment where I knew he was amazing."
Towns-Miranda said that she was in awe as she watched Miranda's career grow. When she first saw the off-Broadway production of "In the Heights," she was "just blown away," and the first time she saw "Hamilton," she was "so bereft" by the show that she "couldn't speak for half an hour."
"He had done such an amazing job that he had broken my heart that Alexander Hamilton had died young," Towns-Miranda recalled.
Now, Miranda has accumulated a pile of awards, including Tony Awards, Grammy Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize. "Hamilton" has become a cultural icon and broken records; "In the Heights" recently hit the big screen as a major motion picture. Towns-Miranda said that she still has moments of awe at what her son has achieved.
"My first huge moment of awe was when he got the MacArthur Genius Award," Towns-Miranda said. "I was like, 'Oh my God.' And they've only continued since then, but that was my first one where there was this acknowledgement of how amazing he was."
Towns-Miranda said she hopes her experience raising Miranda will inspire other parents, guardians or caretakers who are balancing childcare and other responsibilities.
"I often told families struggling with children's issues, since I'm a psychologist, 'You gotta do the best you can now, because if you don't, they won't grow up and leave you, they'll stay with you,'" she said, laughing. "You have to support them, because the goal is to get them to be able to be independent, fulfilled adults."