Tired to Triumphant

Maria's Story

It’s Thursday morning, and Maria, a young Hispanic mother of two who’s eight months pregnant, is getting ready for her first Baby University class. She rushes to make breakfast for her husband, who complains about her delay. A cry from the other room of their tiny apartment announces the rise of their one-year-old daughter, who toddles out and clings to her mommy.

After the chaos of getting out the door, Maria arrives at Baby University, and she strolls her daughter while her three-year-old son drops to the sidewalk, kicking and screaming. Maria breaks down and starts crying herself. Here she is falling apart with two children. How will she deal with a third?

At her first class, the parent educator asks Maria how things are at home. She responds, “There’s no time to sleep, much less to polish my nails or put a bit of color on my face. I don’t have time for myself. My kids cry and fight all the time, and I usually end up crying with them.”

During the class, as she listens to everyone talk about children’s behavior and the unconditional love that every parent should have for their kids, she cries and doesn’t understand why she can’t do that herself. She wishes she could just go home.

But something brings her back. After four weeks, she finally interrupts the class. “My baby will be born in a week,” she says, “and my sadness is huge. I don’t have time for anything and I’m exhausted. My husband leaves early and comes home late from work. I don’t talk to anybody. My kids don’t listen to me. My sister doesn’t understand.” The group quietly listens to Maria.

“I can’t do it anymore,” she continues. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle one more child. I don’t know why I can’t read to my kids. They don’t pay any attention to me, and they only ignore me and fight.” Maria cries and cries. Everyone else cries along with her.

How many women like Maria attend the class? Nearly all of them. Many Marias come each week, each with a similar story, each one trying to understand her role as a mother, wife and woman. At Baby University they have hope. They know they will find support and guidance.

Maria’s story didn’t end that day. Exactly one week after having her baby, she came to Baby University and said to me, “Teacher, I came to introduce my new daughter to you. I came to class, because here I feel understood. I feel alive, like a mother, like a woman. I can cry and laugh, and not be afraid because I am included. I feel like I’m safe here, and all these other moms help me understand my own feelings. Even now, I know that I better understand my kids, and I can see them changing as well. All I know is that I wanted to come back, and my daughter is ready to learn too.”

That new attitude and hope in Maria is only the beginning of a new life for her and her family. With that changed perspective and the parenting tools from AVANCE, Maria will give her children a vision of achievement from day one. They will start school on target for success, outperform their peers, and graduate high school. Baby University gives children the educational tools and vision they need to go on to the big university. And it gives them the best educational partner – their parents – to guide them on that exhilarating journey.