• Kate Smith

I shouldn't complain, _____________ has it so much worse.

Could you fill in the blank?

It's a sentence I've heard a lot during the past 18 months. It's not only when I've been chatting with friends and family, but it sometimes echoes around my own head when things are feeling tough.

The thing is, it's been really very easy to compare our own situation with that of other peoples as we have all been trying to navigate our way through a pandemic. For example, both my husband and I have had the good fortune of being able to continuously working throughout it. He without much choice (a key worker) and myself because I have a workshop I could escape to when the home schooling got too much. Our children have remained healthy and only one out of the four of us have had Covid, and that wasn't too serious. All that means I have no cause for complaint, right?

Erm, well actually, it has been hard in other respects now you mention it. The aforementioned home schooling, of two primary school age boys, is an experience I sincerely hope I never have to repeat. Ever. Again.

As parents, we found it both stressful and soul destroying. Not one of us wanted to be in that situation and the pressure put on us by their school added to the headache. To hear the phrase 'PE with Joe Wicks' almost brings me out in hives (if you know you know!) and I look back on photographs of my eldest from that time and he looks tired, depressed...with bad hair thrown in for good measure.

After the initial shock that the world went into in late March 2020, my business experienced an unexpected increase in bespoke commissions, leaving me feeling very fortunate indeed. So who was I to complain, when I knew of so many businesses suffering heavy losses as a result of Covid 19? But we struggled in other ways. My team had to work reduced hours and being self employed, financial pressure lay on them. When they were working, we would go for months without physically seeing each other in person. We communicated through email and notes left on each others benches as we tag teamed because only one of us could be in the workshop at any one time. Despite the fact that I was busy flitting between home schooling and the workshop, it left me feeling disconnected from those that I was used to working so closely with.

So it seems a skewed reasoning that because we have a roof over our heads, a steady income, good health or we are fortunate to have someone to share the roller-coaster of emotions that the pandemic has thrown at us somehow how should negate any sadness, loss, anxiety, pain or worry that we might be feeling.

But it doesn't and it shouldn't.