Thanks Mom
with Anja Tyson

Friends & Family

May 1st, 2020

Photography Courtesy of Anja Tyson

We asked some women we love to reflect on what Mother’s Day means to them. Today, we present Anja Tyson, Brooklyn NY (in the Mara Hoffman Aliz Dress above), mom to Matilda (age 6), Bird customer since 2004.

Do you have any Mother's Day traditions? How do you plan to spend mother's day this year?

What a crazy time to celebrate anything, right? Mother’s Day is one of the most important holidays of the year to me, and it’s usually a week or so after my birthday, so May has always been Celebration Season. I have a small child and I’m a single parent, so most of my Mother’s Days have been more about me celebrating myself and my beloved mom friends than expecting to be celebrated by my small family. I’m very lucky though in that my daughter is extremely loving every day, and constantly praises me for working so hard and being such a good mother.

We usually try to stay outside all day, I usually ask for good behavior, and I get to eat what I want.

This year, we’ll probably have a little movie marathon at home, I will spend the day lavishing praise on my amazing mom friends, and thanking the community that helps support my motherhood every day, and obviously drinking wine.

Are there other motherly figures in your life that you will be celebrating on Mother's Day?

I always celebrate my own mom, but I especially try to specifically shower my other single mom friends with attention and love on this holiday. I know so many amazing moms who make everything look so easy despite such adverse circumstances. It inspires me every day and also keeps me going when things are not easy.

Who is your favorite/inspirational fictional/tv mom?

Ugh this is such a hard question always! I think a lot of the reason that women are so hard on themselves about parenting — but really more broadly about womanhood — is that the depictions of those lives in media are never honest, and more so than not being honest, women’s roles in media are so narrow in their range.

A really good example is the way labor and birthing are depicted on television. Every 90s sitcom informed me that when I eventually went into labor as an adult, my water would break and then I would have about 20-30 minutes to get to the hospital (usually sitting in rush hour traffic in a yellow cab) before the baby just pops out. I was already pregnant before I learned what labor is really like, and the whole ordeal took a little more than 24 hours. The only truth was that I did in fact go to the hospital in a taxi. But up til that moment I worked the whole day, had conference calls, and walked around the neighborhood groaning in pain.

This kind of misdirection is a form of oppression, and it factors into what keeps us from addressing the major failures of our society to protect mothers. Mother’s Day is a really great day to initiate repeating donations to maternal health organizations that protect underserved communities and especially black mothers, who face an exponentially higher birth-related mortality rate than any other demographic.

My favorite charities to make your first regular donation to on Mother’s Day are; Baby2Baby, Good+, The Center for Reproductive Rights, WIN, and Planned Parenthood.

I wish women and women’s stories were allowed to have more range... we are getting there, but only slightly. I think a lot of women who are going through the whole gamut of emotions and experiences related to motherhood — parenting, birthing, being pregnant, losing pregnancies, ending pregnancies, trying without success to get pregnant, women who really just don’t ever want to be pregnant at all — are looking into the world and not often seeing stories like their own, and that feels very othering. Othering can be very emotionally destructive, and that’s sort of what most media and film feels like.

Anyway the short answer to this question is: Clair Huxtable.

What is your favorite recipe or baked goods that you have been making recently?

I haven’t had a ton of time for leisure cooking during lockdown, which is awful because I truly love cooking and baking and never have enough time for it. However, we are coming up on zucchini season now so I am super excited to make my world famous zucchini bread. Spoiler alert: it is also coincidentally Martha Stewart’s world famous zucchini bread.

Zucchini Nut Bread

2 cups finely grated zucchini (about 2 zucchini)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray paper. Combine zucchini, sugars, oil, and eggs in a large bowl and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in nuts and extract. Divide batter between loaf pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Invert, and remove parchment paper. Cool completely on rack.

What is your favorite mother's day gift?

My favorite Mother’s Day gift was actually a Father’s Day gift! When Matilda was little her preschool used to have these really gender stereotypical Mother’s and Father’s Day events, and always really dreaded the Father’s Day one — so much so that I used to keep her home from school on that day. Her dad passed away when she was 2, and even though she’s really well-adjusted about it, it can still be stressful for a little kid to see everyone around them hanging out with their dads except them. So I used to keep her home that day to spare her the stress.

Anyway one year they spent all week at school making like ties and baseball hats and briefcases and that sort of thing, and the nicest thing was Matilda spent all week making me a baseball hat and a tie with all this crazy paint and crap all over it, and brought them home the night before she was to have the day off and gave it to me for Father’s Day and wasn’t really phased by the oddity of it all.

So I guess the gift was the tie but also the gift was also her inadvertently letting me know that she wasn’t a kid walking around feeling like she has a big hole in her life.

Eventually I would also like something from Cartier though.

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Ulla Johnson Ellyn Dress

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