The Diary of Maria, A Young Mother Who Immigrated to Iowa

Apr 4, 2019

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“Maria” is a story based on the true experiences of a young Mexican mother living in Northwest Iowa. It describes the hardships that forced Maria to leave her family, and the daily struggles she endures. Julie Blythe, the story’s author, frames Maria’s own journal entries within a stirring and heart-wrenching narrative. We present adapted excerpts of Maria’s journal entries.

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March 26, 2005: It is decided. My father is making the preparations for our departure to the United States this May. Sergio and I will go with my father and younger brothers to try to find a good place to live and jobs to earn a living. There is never enough money here—we are constantly struggling, even with all of us working. My father knows a good, safe place in rural Iowa, near where he stayed the last time he came to the United States. He thinks we will be able to find work there and send money back to my mother to keep our little shops going. Sergio and I may have to leave behind our baby, Armando. I can’t bear the thought of leaving him, but how else can we build a future for him and the expected baby?

May 24, 2005:  In a few more days we will begin the journey north. My father insists that the trip will be too dangerous for a one-year old, so Armando will stay behind. When we get established we will send for him. I wonder how will I ever leave my baby behind.

June 7, 2005: We have arrived safely to Iowa. Now I understand fully why my father insisted on leaving Armando with my mother. Traveling for days in the intense heat of the Sonora desert would have been too dangerous with a small child. My father and brothers have an apartment nearby, while Sergio and I will stay here in this clean but small apartment. I feel safe now. Sergio and I must begin preparing for the arrival of our second child in September. I pray that the grueling days of travel have not harmed our baby.

July 12, 2005: Sergio has found a job working in the hog butchering facility for a local company! This is a blessing. 

September 26, 2005: Our baby is several days old but we are still at the hospital. He has a condition called “failure to thrive.” We have named him Carlos.

October 3, 2005: Sergio and I were able to leave the hospital with Carlos yesterday. We are finally home in our little apartment with our precious baby.

June 15, 2006:  We are settled into our new house and it seems so homey. I especially like the front porch with windows on three sides. It is a cool place to sit to escape the summer heat in the late evening. Living all together with my brothers and father has been a financial boost to Sergio and me. We want to bring Armando here as soon as we can.

March 5, 2007: Tomorrow, my brother Rogelio will load our belongings in his red Chevy truck and drive us south towards Laredo, Texas, where we will cross the border into Mexico and leave the United States. It is tearing me apart to think of leaving my husband behind. The future seems so uncertain and there is no way to know if we will ever be able to be reunited for good. Staying here or returning to Mexico – either choice is full of uncertainty. I long to hold both my sons in my arms again, but why must I leave my husband to do that?

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"Maria" was originally written for and published by the Hispanic Story Project. This broadcast was edited from the original text by Lorenzo Sandoval with permission from the Iowa Writing Project and is one of a four part series made in collaboration with One Book One Siouxland.