“The most pure love” – Angelica’s Story
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As a 16-year-old mother in 1992, Angelica put unrealistic expectations on herself—and on her new baby, Vanessa.
“I expected to have a perfect daughter. A robot daughter. But this program taught me kids are just kids. They have to run, jump and cry,” Angelica said. “They showed me that patience is good.”
That program—Parents as Teachers—is now part of Promise 1000, which connects this region’s low-income families to supports that optimize the beginning years of life for young children prenatal to three years old – the first 1,000 days of life. Promise 1000 includes home visiting provider agencies like Parents as Teachers through a collective impact system.
The resources provided by the program, including bilingual 1-on-1 parenting coaching, were critical for a mother still adjusting to new societal norms. Born in Mexico, Angelica graduated from high school in Kansas City, and has since built her life here. That life now includes a loving family, and a unique experience: she is a mom again, now with a 3-year-old (Alyssa) and a 1-year-old (Leonardo). Her eldest daughter, Vanessa, is now 26 and going through the program herself as a new mom.
Angelica is an Administrative Assistant at Catholic Charities, and says she loves to help others. Now as she participates in Parents as Teachers for a second time, this time alongside her daughter, she is reminded of her life as a young mother.
“I know what she’s living through, and what her daughter is developing through,” Angelica said. “Parents as Teachers gives us the comfort to know we’re doing our best.”
One of the earliest struggles for Angelica was understanding what it was to be a parent in American culture—very different from the one she grew up in.
“With my culture, you expect kids to smile all the time,” Angelica said. “If they have sadness or you have sadness, there’s something wrong. Especially now that I have two young kids, the program has shown me it’s OK not to be happy all the time, and OK for kids to not be happy all the time.”
That experience shaped her relationship not only with Vanessa, but with all of her children.
“It helped me engage more in quality time with my kids. Our communication has been better, and I have learned a lot from my kids,” Angelica said. “Being a mother shows you the most pure love. I love my husband, and my mother. But with your kids, you don’t expect anything back. It’s unconditional.”
It’s difficult for Angelica to envision her life today without the support provided to her by donors who make Promise 1000 programming possible.
“Please keep helping. A lot of us can benefit from it,” she said. “I would ask you to keep giving your time and your money, because everybody benefits from it, especially kids.”
* For more information about home visitation programs supported by United Way of Greater Kansas City, visit Promise1000.org.