Restaurants will be packed, with lines out the door. Flower shops have been swamped with orders all week. It’s Mother’s Day, when we celebrate all our moms have done for us, especially today’s modern mom who often juggles kids and a career.
We feature three such moms — an artist, a cyclist and an ice cream maker — as a tribute to mother’s everywhere. These women share their thoughts on raising and working with the children, continuing to pursue their passion and making it all work.
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Occupation: Artist and Tinkertopia co-owner.
Family: Husband Ryan (R.R.) Anderson; Max, age 7.
Darcy Anderson’s life can look a bit like a 1950s mom’s dream: A garden full of berries and herbs, making sculptures out of cardboard rolls or fabric scraps with her son Max, and making it possible for other parents to do the same thing at Tinkertopia, the downtown reuse store she co-owns with her husband Ryan (R.R.). She even made all the masks for Max’s recent school production of “The Lion King.”
Step inside Anderson’s world, though, and you’ll see she has the same juggling act as any parent, plus the inherent conflict between artistic questioning and parental responsibility. But the Tacoma artist handles the juggling creatively.
“A lot of my art practice has turned into things that can bridge both worlds,” says Anderson. “I used to do painting, drawing, portraiture. Now that’s transitioned into three dimensional work, crafting beautiful things for children to enjoy.”
After dropping Max at school in the morning, Anderson takes the first shift at Tinkertopia, teaching Mommy and Me workshops on how to make stuff out of other stuff. She sometimes takes the workshops on the road to schools or libraries, and on school breaks Max comes to the shop with her — a kid’s paradise with shelves and bins full of fascinating items and free range with the glue gun.
Then it’s school pick-up, and unstructured time for homework, art or playing in the garden. Weekends are much the same.
“We started the shop when Max was 5,” says Anderson, who grew up in Juneau, Alaska, at the same high school as R.R. and went to art school in Canada before they moved to Tacoma nine years ago.
“(Max has) grown up understanding what it takes to run a business. And it shows him … that your passion can cross over into your career. Artists have that a bit easier.”
Max also gets the benefit of professional-quality paints and pens, and brings a sketchbook along to restaurants.
Like any mom, though, finding time just for yourself is tricky. Anderson recently gave up yoga to have more time in her studio: a tiny room in the garden filled to the brim with fabric, paints, easels and Max’s sculptures.
“I don’t know when was the last time I set up my easel and painted a body of work,” she says. “(When) you get going, and realize it’s been five hours. When you’re in your creative mind, that’s bliss. ... You love your family, but that’s your being that you’ve always had. I need that time.”
Two things help, though. One is that Anderson’s personal art has always taken inspiration from the joy and imagination of childhood, and how it intersects with adulthood.
“It’s a natural fit for me to work with kids, because I’m always taking ideas from them,” she says.
The other is that as a parent, she wants to be a good model for Max.
“If I want him to be a creative thinker, don’t I need to exhibit that?” Anderson asks.
The answer comes from Max.
“She does awesome stuff,” he sums up.
Occupation: Downtown on the Go, assistant coordinator.
Family: Husband, Andrew, 28; and son, Filbert, 1.
At noon on Mother’s Day, Teri Stopoulos and her 1-year-old son plan to ride their bike along the Tacoma waterfront as part of CycloFemme, a worldwide cycling celebration of moms and women.
It will be like most days for Teri and Filbert.
Teri is a bicycle advocate who along with her husband, Andrew, choose to live without a car. Andrew doesn’t even have a driver’s license.
Last spring, Teri rode her bike up until the day before Filbert was born. In the weeks leading up to the birth, Teri and Andrew discussed whether they should pedal home from the hospital after the delivery.
They ordered a Cetma Cargo bike that would allow one of the parents to pedal while Filbert was harnessed safely into a large cargo box in front of them.
The bike didn’t arrive in time for the birth, so Filbert came in a car Teri borrowed from her mom.
There have been few car rides since. “He hates car seats,” Teri said.
Teri mostly walked with Filbert in his first few weeks, but during a trip to Portland they rented a cargo bike like the one they’d order and took their first family bike ride.
Teri rides regularly with the VeloFemmes, a Tacoma-based riding group geared for women. And when she rides, Filbert is almost always right there in front of her. They also take part in the monthly Kidical Mass rides, short trips (often between parks) designed for families with young children.
Filbert seems to love every ride. “He always has this look of adventure in his eyes,” Teri said.
Cold and rainy days don’t slow them down. They bundle up and their bike has a protective bubble that can be attached to the cargo box to keep Filbert dry.
The cover might also help with a developing issue. “He’s just learned that he can throw things out of the box,” Teri said.
Teri works part time for Downtown on the Go promoting alternative transportation in Tacoma. Her time pedaling around the south end with Filbert helps spread the word, she says. People notice her distinctive bike and often stop to talk.
“It’s a great way to advocate for cycling,” she said. “It shows people that it can be for everybody. People who might not stop cyclists talk to us. I guess we look like we’re having a good time.”
Occupation: Owner and founder of Ice Cream Social.
Family: Husband Nick; son Jonah, 18; daughters Sayge, 22; Lily, 16; Iris, 11; Anise, 9; Dahlia, 7.
Layla Isaac’s startup business making ice cream was ideal for a stay-at-home mom with six kids.
She sold ice cream at the farmers markets during summer break, putting the business mostly on hiatus during the school year.
And then her little company grew.
Ice Cream Social is now a retail store in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue neighborhood and a bustling ice cream wholesaler with a production kitchen in downtown Tacoma. The company makes all-natural ice cream from scratch in fanciful flavors using as many ingredients as possible that are local to the South Sound.
So how does a busy working mom tasked with growing a company get to see more of her kids?
She sees them at work.
Because of the kid-friendly nature of her product, she anticipated her kids might want to be involved.
“It’s a fun business. I do know that some kids don’t want to get involved with their parents’ accounting or plumbing business, but with ice cream, I just anticipated they would,” said Layla with a laugh.
Employment is optional for all family members, said Sayge and Layla. “I try to be supportive of whatever they decide to do. I presented it as an opportunity, and they’ve embraced it.” However, she said, “when it comes to employment, they make their own decisions.”
Daughter Sayge has worked for her mother since the creation of the company.
Son Jonah, the only boy, works part time at the Sixth Avenue store, as does Lily, who completes office and store tasks.
And now Ice Cream Social is becoming a full-blown, family-run company because husband Nick recently left his job as a game designer to become Ice Cream Social’s production manager.
That’s a position Sayge once held, but more recently she has been acting as co-manager of the Sixth Avenue scoop shop, as well as a flavor developer..
As for the other three girls? They’re too young to work in any kind of official capacity — Iris, Anise and Dahlia are students at Bryant Montessori.
So how do mom and daughter navigate the parent-child relationship on the job? Sayge and Layla, who work together more than any of the other family members, insist “we never fight.”
However, they do grapple with communication, usually when they’re texting one another while working from separate locations.
“Sometimes the communication can be tough if we don’t make an effort to call,” said Layla. “We make it fun. I feel we get along well. I totally enjoy working with Sayge and all my kids.”
Added Sayge, “This is really great experience I’m learning.”
The next step for the family is a natural one.
“We’re definitely looking for our second location, it’s just a matter of the right spot and timing,” said Layla.
When: Noon Sunday (May 8).
Where: Old Town Park, 2350 N. 30th St., Tacoma.
What: CycleFemme is a free day of bicycle riding in honor of women and mothers held each Mother’s Day at numerous locations worldwide. The South Sound’s ride is organized by VeloFemmes, a local riding group for women. The ride is planned to take 1 1/2 -3 hours and visit the Tacoma waterfront with an option of pedaling around Point Defiance’s Five Mile Drive.