My heart began to race as I pulled into the carpark. I turned the rear view mirror slightly so that I could see my eyes looking into it.
“You can do this Jenny, pull it together. Just get through the day in one piece.” Uttered without mentioning a word.
I stepped out of the car, removed my bag and locked the door before walking into the building. “Shining Stars” written in a child friendly font on the main sign out front as I made my way inside. I was immediately greeted by a swarm of children, and that anxious, frazzled demeanour immediately cracked and washed away as I felt their welcoming embrace. A smile found its way to my lips for the first time that morning as I suddenly remembered what I did this for.
“You’re late.” came the shrill tone of my superior, immediately forcing those shaky barriers to encase my happiness once more, ‘it couldn’t have lasted forever’ I thought to myself.
“Our policy states that you have to be here at least 10 minutes earlier than your shift so you have time to put your things away and be on the floor and ready to go at exactly 7.30. It is now 7.32” I could sense in the tone of her voice and the spite accentuating her words that today was not going to be a good day.
And it wasn’t…..
Thoughout the day I was under siege. Whether it was sitting down far too long with a group of children or talking with a parent a little too long, I felt her wrath shortly after. Little by little, my shoulders began to get heavier and heavier as the day went on until I could barely lift my head to look at my colleagues. I felt embarrassed and defeated, not just for the fact that she had berated me intentionally in front of everyone but because I couldn’t muster the courage to snap back, to defend myself.
I spent at least half an hour at the end of the day crying in my car, staining my steering wheel with my desperate tears. The drive home seemed to be the longest 45 minutes I had ever driven. I went straight to bed, again missing time I could have been spending with my children, instead feeling as though I had lost part of myself through the day. I lifted the blankets over my head and cried myself to sleep knowing……tomorrow was only a sleep away.