A Mother’s Work

by Tori Richmand
May 2018

Lupe Sosa has worked on the kitchen staff at a sorority house at the University of South Carolina for 2 years. Lupe is from Mexico and has been in America for 8 years. She works the lunch and dinner shifts Monday through Thursday, breakfast Friday and dinner Sunday. Lupe came to America in August 2010 to be with her now husband and to work.

She works many hours to provide for her family. She is thankful for the work she has, but after this job, she leaves to go to her second and full-time job — being a mother.

Lupe enjoys cooking and has been cooking since her mother taught her how to cook at 10 years old. Lupe prefers baking over cooking and her favorite thing to bake is flan. Cooking at the sorority house is very different than the cooking she is used to making. The food at the sorority house is made for hundreds of girls, the ingredients are different and the type of food is different. Lupe likes to cook carne asada or other family recipes when she is home and likes that style of cooking better.

When Lupe works the dinner shifts, her nights usually end around 9 p.m. Lupe cooks during the day and then at the end of the night must clean the kitchen and prepare it for tomorrow. Lupe works with Shauna, Maria and Jane to finish the kitchen so she can head home for the night. Lupe enjoys working at the house because she likes the people she works with, the work isn’t too bad and she has Saturdays off. “I love my coworkers, we laugh together and joke around, and they make it fun.”

Lupe commutes 30 minutes every day to and from work. While she is at work, her two boys, Ricardo (5) and Dominic (4) go to elementary school and preschool and are then picked up by a babysitter. Lupe says it’s hard being away from her boys but she works to support them. Cooking all day for college aged students and then going home to cook for her sons and husband is something that she says comes with her other job of being a mother and wife.

Lupe spends her free Saturdays running errands, cleaning the house and playing with her sons. Lupe gets groceries from her local “mercado” that sells a wider range of Hispanic and Latino ingredients than normal groceries stores do. Food is very important in the Hispanic culture, and she likes to bring the food from her home country to her home in South Carolina. Cooking at work and cooking at home is very different because the chicken lacks the same seasoning that Mexican food does and they don’t use a lot of the condiments that American food does.

Lupe came to the America alone when she was 21 years old to be with her now husband, Laureano. They met at school when they were 13 and began dating at 14 in Mexico. They broke up and after 7 years, he got back in touch with her and they began dating. They have been married for 7 years now. Lupe is happy with her family but she often misses her home and her sister and parents. “I miss it all the time, I miss my parents. I have them speak on the phone with my kids so that they get to know them and can’t talk to them.” Lupe said.

Lupe’s home is filled with religious icons and photos, because she is a religious Catholic. Her family attends Our Lady of the Hills Catholic Church on Sundays and Fridays. Lupe’s husband, Laureano, goes to church a lot, and he goes every Sunday with the kids. Lupe can’t attend church on Sundays with her family because of work. “I like my work, but I don’t like working on Sundays because I can’t go to church but I thank God that I do have work.” Lupe said.

Lupe hugs a screaming Ricardo in the boys’ room. She spends her Saturdays with the boys, spending as much time as she can with them and letting them play outside. When asked about her favorite part of being a mother is, she said that, “my favorite part of being a mother is that I get to hug them and hold them.”

Lupe’s sons Dominic (left) and Ricardo (right) ride bikes together out front of the house on Saturday evening. Lupe describes the boys are both being very different in personalities but they love spending time together. “The two have different qualities. One is very loving and the other only lets me hug him sometimes. They both love to dance, sing, but one loves to sing the songs from church but the other loves the songs on the radio,” Lupe said of her boys.

Lupe yells at Ricardo to get out of the sprinkler. “Those are for the plants not for you,” she said to him as she follows Dominic on his bike. She describes Ricardo, 5, as a “little clown” who always has to be making people laugh, showing off, or just being silly. Dominic is always near Lupe and is more reserved.

Lupe inspects Ricardo’s wet t-shirt as Dominic asks for the feed for the chickens. Ricardo is the only one in the family who speaks English, because he is learning it in his elementary school. Dominic is beginning to pick it up from Ricardo, and the two of them speak with each other in English. Lupe tries to keep them speaking only in Spanish at home, not only because she and Laureano only speak Spanish but because she wants them to learn Spanish. If there’s one thing she hopes her sons learn from her as a mother it is to speak Spanish. “I don’t want my kids to lose their customs and their Spanish like many kids who are raised in America” she said.

Lupe talks to Dominc while Laureano looks on. Becoming a mother changed Lupe’s life because she no longer had only herself to think of. Being a mother is getting dinner ready earlier, helping the boys with homework when they come home, doing laundry, cooking and cleaning, and balancing her job. Balancing her job and motherhood is, as she describes it, lot of running back and forth. But for Lupe, “being a mother is something beautiful. “I didn’t think I could have kids and now I have been gifted with 2.” Lupe came to America to be with Laureano and to work. Her life has changed because she no longer works for herself, but she works for her sons. She wants to provide for them, and in turn must sacrifice time with them to work to provide.