Grit & Grace: Charae D'Ambra

“I was born into an Italian family. Both my dad and maternal grandfather were pastors. Comforting people with food and affection was a way of life. In kindergarten, I wanted to be a doctor. I discovered what a nurse practitioner was in high school and decided the nursing route was a better fit for me because I wanted to focus on the whole person. I practiced pediatrics for 12 years before having my daughter.

Work was a big focus of my life before motherhood. I inherited the hustle mentality from my grandparents who came from immigrant families and The Great Depression. My husband visited Italy to ski annually before we got married. When we met, he encouraged me to consider the more European-esque appreciation for rest, play, beauty and simple pleasures.

I don’t think I ever imagined or dreamed about owning an indoor playground, until she was 12 months old. One Saturday I just needed my home to be toddler free to get some work done. My husband took her to meet a friend at an indoor playground that felt worn, dirty and unsafe to him, I quickly became obsessed and passionate about creating a space that parents could feel good about taking their little ones to because I saw the need.

I hope what we were able to do here was combine what I know about caring for the needs of others and an appreciation for the value of play along with the aesthetics of pleasant colors and music and the smell of coffee that just makes us feel better. Parenting young children is so physically and mentally exhausting, and isolating. Our secret mission here is actually reducing stress in families with young children. In a way, I think I have a greater impact on community health by creating The Piazza than I did in primary care pediatrics.

I’ve met so many incredible people as a result of this place, too. The connections tend to lead to more connections and the collaborations and networking we have been able to do here reminds me that this is bigger than me. There’s a greater purpose.

As women, we are the midwives and doulas of life; we bring things to life whether we have children or not. We can support each other by taking the time to really see each other, nurture potential in one another, and truly value each other. “

Charae is the Founder of The Children’s Piazza and also a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

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