“I lost my dream job. After years of building up to it, I thought I’d paid my dues.” Jasmine has worked in childcare for over ten years. Landing a job in a newly opened preschool represented so much for her.
She learned of the job in 2019, before the preschool opened. At the time she was Director of a Long Day Care Centre in another part of Sydney, but was finding the commute exhausting. She made lots of inquiries, spoke with people associated with the preschool, attended their open day, making contact with the incoming Director and prospective parents. “I had this massive build-up before it was even opened.” All the pointers looked positive and when recruitment was formalised, she was offered the role of an educator at the beginning of the year.
But, Covid-19 struck. “This has been one of the most challenging years of my life. Everything that I worried could happen, has. And even things I wasn’t worried about have happened.” It was only a matter of weeks into her new role when the signs were not looking good. Even though assurances were given that jobs would be preserved, it was only after three months that she was given the news that her role would be made redundant. “They didn’t look at alternatives such as splitting shifts or cutting hours. I don’t even think they really looked properly into accessing government subsidies.”
The job represented a future Jasmine had constructed. For her, 2020 represented a year of beginnings. New job. Moving to a new part of the city. Also, getting married to Curtis. Hopes were high. “We moved into the community so I could walk to work. We wanted to build our lives there and I wanted to stay in the same job for the next 30 odd years” It was a bonus that the neighbourhood had a significant portion of people from Curtis’ ethnicity.
“It was losing a community, not just a job… all of these plans that we made. And it felt doubly painful, because we still plan on living and raising our children here but I dread going to the shopping centre, which is next to the preschool and meeting someone I worked with because it just hurts too much. It’s also embarrassing knowing that I was the one who was made redundant.” She says this, even though she was assured the reasons for her job cut weren’t personal. “Even though I was assured it wasn’t anything to do with my skills, I think it came down to personalities.”
Since then Jasmine landed another job. But, something unexpected happened. “I got pregnant a few weeks into the job. It was an unexpected pregnancy. I had a complicated first trimester and combined with the stress I had through the year, I just wasn’t coping. So, I quit that job.”
Jasmine tries to cope with the conflicting feelings. “I feel really sad all the time but at the same time I console myself with the fact that I’m having a baby and that is better than anything I could work for.” She was invested in being part of the preschool, not simply as a great job, but in the ideas that were represented by the job. She liked the philosophy that underpinned their education. She loved being part of a high-quality team, “It was such a change working with people who knew what they were doing and who were really passionate about quality education.”
Yet, there is a genuine streak of resilience. “I cope by trying to draw things back logically. 2020 has resulted in billions of peoples’ lives being affected personally and I was one of those people. So, it’s not personal. I take my ego out of it. Whatever’s happened has just happened incidentally. It’s as personal as a gust of wind. So, I can’t take it too seriously.”
Learning about herself has also been important. “I’m not the centre of the universe. I’ve also learned that life is much harder and much better than I ever thought it could be…I don’t need a lot to get by, as long as I have the core people in my life.” It’s the “little things” she consoles herself with as she looks to the future: meeting her baby, seeing her baby greet her parents for the first time, hoping that Curtis gets his permanent residency.
There is a lot to keep her positive and tuned into the future.
(Real names changed to protect Jasmine and Curtis’ privacy)