Why I Left My Corporate Job to Work with Children

My best childhood memories did not come from home. They came from Cape May, New Jersey when I’d visit my grandparents at their beach home every summer. Every morning, my grandfather woke me up gently, told me I was beautiful, and then cooked me breakfast. I can still hear his pots and pans when he asked me, “What do you want for breakfast? Do you want French toast? Pancakes? Eggs? Oatmeal? What sounds good to you?”

That was my grandfather. He always asked me what I wanted and I got whatever I asked for. He treated me like a princess. I didn’t realize how much he spoiled me; all I felt was love. And it was a stark contrast from how I felt when I was with my parents for the remainder of the year.

Stacy Heard-SmithWe had a routine. My grandfather had my bike ready to ride to the beach in the mornings after breakfast and I spent hours at the ocean playing. I remember the smell of the sandy beach, the feeling of the ocean winds, the calming waves and the seagull friends that always accompanied me.

As I grew up, my grandfather took me for long car rides or walks along the beach, telling me funny stories of his childhood. He took me and my friends out to dinner at the lobster restaurant, where we ordered food and enjoyed each other’s company. I remember sitting outside of the patio waiting while my grandfather cooked, watching rabbits and squirrels in the yard. He fed me three meals a day like clockwork. Did I mention he was an amazing cook?

It was my fairy tale and it was real. Those were the best times of my childhood. But for the longest time, the only things I remembered were the sad memories.

My childhood was filled with adults arguing and fighting, apathy, indifference…it was dysfunctional and painful. It wasn’t a home like my grandparents and I didn’t feel loved. Eventually, my parents lost custody of me, and I was raised by my aunt and other family members.

So when asked, “What’s your inspiration?” my answer is two-fold. First, it’s my grandfather. When someone treats you as special as he did, you realize what it means to be loved. He was a living example of love, and he showed me not only how to love someone, but how to enjoy life. Second, it’s children.

Children inspire me. They are the most beautiful gifts to the earth. When I’m with them, I feel like my life is intensified because it’s so pure and innocent interacting with them. It's uplifting because it reminds me of the days I spent with my grandfather. I remember his unconditional love and I find myself wanting to nurture children the way he nurtured me.

I know the pain of feeling unloved. I know what it feels like when there is no hope, those around you have failed you, and you have nobody to turn to. So when I have the opportunity to be with children, I make sure I show them the same love my grandfather freely gave to me. They need to feel love and know how special they are. This is why I left my corporate position to work with children, and what drives me to pursue my dreams of opening a childcare center.

Stacy H – Las Vegas, NV

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