Sonia Vasquez raised her daughter, Tina, just outside New York City. And when money was tight, Sonia would take on multiple jobs to pay the bills.
"I was a day care provider. I work at the gym in the deli. I take care of the elderly," Sonia, now 63, told her daughter, now 29, during a recent visit with StoryCorps.
One night, while going home, she was so exhausted that she fell asleep at the wheel. Luckily, it was at a red light.
At times, she says, she feared it was taking a toll on her ability to be a good mom.
"Because I was so stressed and I was overworked, I used to be very aggressive at times with you," she said. "Once, you were about 3 or 4 and you were playing with your dolls. And you were shouting at them, and I said, 'Oh, my gosh, is that the way I act towards you?' "
"I remember one day you said to me, 'Mommy, I don't like the way you speak to me. If you tell me the good things first and then the bad things, I will listen to you. But when you don't I just tune you out.' And I said, 'If you ever see me do that again, please tell me.' And from that day on we were like two peas in a pod."
On Friday nights, Sonia would often take her daughter to Denny's, where they'd share a meal. Sometimes, the servers, who were used to seeing them and knew that Sonia was struggling, would bring them extra food.
Sonia says her daughter adjusted her expectations, asking only for inexpensive gifts for the holidays, even when her friends had fancier things.
"But you gave me so much more than that," Tina said. "You know, you don't have the Ph.D. this or the master's that, but your experience, I feel like, is worth 10 times those things."
"You make it sound like if I wanted to in this moment I could go walk on the moon," she told her mom.
Produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher Morris.
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It is Friday morning, which is when we hear from StoryCorps - people telling loved one stories about their lives. And today we have a conversation about growing up broke in the 1990s. Sonia Vasquez raised her daughter, Tina, just outside New York City. And when money was tight, Sonja would take on multiple jobs to pay the bills. The two of them recently sat together for StoryCorps.
SONIA VASQUEZ: I was a day care provider. I work at a gym and the deli. I take care of the elderly.
TINA VASQUEZ: You had all those jobs at once?
S. VASQUEZ: Yep.
T. VASQUEZ: I remember you were coming home one night, and you told me you were so tired you had fallen asleep at a red light and didn't realize it until a car came behind you and honked the horn.
S. VASQUEZ: Because I was so stressed and I was overworked, I used to be very aggressive at times with you. Once, you were about three or four, and you were playing with your dolls and you were shouting at them I said, oh, my, gosh, is that the way I act towards you? I remember one day you said to me, mommy, I don't like the way you speak to me. If you tell me the good things first and then the bad things, I will listen to you, but when you don't, I just tune you out. And I said, if you ever see me do that again, please tell me. And from that day on, we were like two peas in a pod. Our time together was really - Friday nights we would go to Denny's.
T. VASQUEZ: They knew you only could afford one meal but they'd bring us, like, a meal and a half in one plate.
S. VASQUEZ: Yep, and we'd share it. And also I remember when I would take you shopping to get stuff for Christmas, and I say, pick a pair of sneakers that you want. You went and you picked a $5 sneaker when all your friends wearing these expensive sneakers.
T. VASQUEZ: But you gave me so much more than that. You know, you don't have the PhD-this or the master's-that, but your experience, I feel like, is worth 10 times those things. You make it sound like, if I wanted to in this moment, I could go walk on the moon.
S. VASQUEZ: No matter what you want, if you want the shirt off my back, it's yours.
INSKEEP: Sonia Vasquez with her daughter, Tina - StorysCorps in New York. You can find more conversations like this in StoryCorp's latest book "Ties That Bind," which is out on paperback this week. And you can get the StoryCorps podcast on iTunes or at NPR.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.