Remember Your Why


Heather O'Shea

10th December 2020

Why this career? What draws us to a job that churns out defeated, tired educators every year. Was my ego really so grandiose that I believed I would be the exception to the rule - that I could weather the storm of surviving as broke, tired "childcare worker" cliche.

I didn't enter childcare to boost the economy during tough times. Government policies facilitated my tentative first steps into our world. I chose to take the leap.

We don't show up every day to bolster the governments books. Our paltry income is rarely a justifiable exchange for our efforts. Whilst the exchequer saves millions avoiding any long term investments, I mind my pennies so the pounds mind themselves.

Under no uncertain terms did I envisage working with children through a global pandemic. Yet, isn't that exactly what we signed up for? The temperatures, the snotty noses, the tear filled eyes after a scary tumble. To be a safe place to dry those eyes and a warm lap to weather any storms being a child entails. To be the lighthouse keeper of the hugs and stories.

So why?

Why do we pour our heart and soul into little ones who aren't our own? We won't see them graduate from college, nor will we tuck them into bed at night. We won't be buying them their first suit or waving them off on their debs. Yet in spite of our heartache at waving goodbye each year, we invest our energy and our hearts into a whole new cohort of little ones.


I firmly believe, and have known this to be true long before I ever read or learned about the importance of early years; that a childhood has an enormous impact on adulthood. I felt this in my bones far before I accepted it as a validated cannon from a more qualified, well read, professional.

I am in the process of learning to trust my instincts. It is a long, arduous journey. I forgive my previous self for not believing sooner. Its known that the invisible scars have lasting impact but the happy imprints have a stronger hold. We can inspire growth, laughter, trust and playfulness. We encourage expressions through the hundreds of languages children unleash throughout many of their 1000 days with us. The light always banishes the darkness. We are the safe harbours to weather the storms. We help to pave the way for the happily ever afters.

Of course we know now that children are affected by everything. A change in the environment or the wrong colour cup given to them can cause heartache. Children have faced toxicity in utero, adverse childhood experiences, neglect, abuse and bereavement and many have survived to tell the tales... Those tales make or break us. Regardless of whether we are brave enough to cast light on our shadows, they are there. Festering in background, being triggered by cries, by separation, by conflicts or by the smell of a Rusk that brings us right back to being in that space. There are shadows that come back to haunt our dreams and yet we answer those cries, wipe the tears, regulate the deregulated and march on.

Alas, why??

There they are now. Can you hear them? With their half smiles or their shy smiles, their hugs, their incessant neediness, their unwavering adoration. They are my why. My goal - to be the adult who accepts them as they are. Who remembers that Every. Single. Interaction. Is. An. Intervention. Every single interaction matters. I strive to be the adult who connects before I correct. Who uses attachment informed approaches. I am trauma sensitive - we all have shadows.

Each day we show up. The bags under our eyes are a constant accessory now. We are ready to face another day. Some days are so much harder than others. The good days with the sparkle moments, those moments where we connect or share a smile or play together energises us just enough to make it to tomorrow.

I was raised with the old adage, child are resilient! They adapt! They will be fine! Well, with their Educators by their sides, maybe they will be. We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams, we are the keepers of childhood. We are the good enough adults who preserve play, and all that it entails. That's enough for me.

Heather O'Shea has worked in Early Childhood Education and Care since 2013. She holds numerous qualifications in Early Childhood Education and Care including, but not limited to, a level 6 qualification in Early Years Education , Montessori certification, Special Needs Assisting certification and Therapeutic Play Skills certification. Heather is currently studying her BA in Early Years Education. She is passionate about Trauma and Psychology of Childhood and plans to branch out as a specialist in Informed Trauma Care in the future. Heather is also passionate about affordable childcare, particularly provision of quality care and education for parents returning to college. She currently works in a Not-For-Profit Early Childhood Education and Care in Co. Kerry.


10.12.2020 20:21

Margaret Dunne

Wonderful read. I would love to see holistic therapies such as Life Activation (crystal healing) Meditation, Sacred Geometry, Reflexology & more bn introduced to enhance kindness & compassion.

10.12.2020 19:15

Jackie Ryan

Wonderfully worded and fantastically explained.... well done Heather. A refreshingly honest insight into the often overseen occupation that is so certainly important in raising our future generations.