This Mom's Creative Zoom Set Up Perfectly Shows Working Parents' Pandemic Struggle

Working from home with kids? It's not easy—and one mom is showing the messy reality so many parents are facing.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it's like to be a work-from-home parent—trust me, as a freelance writer and mom, I've heard them all. There's one word that comes up time and time again: Perfect. People have praised the perfection of a setup that allows us to work and parent simultaneously...until the pandemic hit, and parents everywhere quickly realized that working from home when you're a parent is...well, messy. And definitely not perfect.

kitchen table filled with used plates, cups, and an open laptop
Getty Images

That's why we're applauding Gretchen Goldman, Ph.D., a scientist and mom who recently conducted a virtual interview with CNN—and pulled the curtain back to reveal what was actually going down behind the scenes in a subsequent tweet.

Goldman shared a link to the interview itself on her Twitter account. At first glance, all the viewer sees is a totally composed professional, but Goldman also shared a side-by-side image. One one side, you see a screenshot of Goldman on television; the other photo shows a wider look, which reveals what really went down in the background while she was working.

The latter will look familiar to most parents out there, particularly the ones who are attempting to juggle careers alongside caring for kids right now: There are toys scattered everywhere, and while the mom is in a professional blouse, she's wearing bike shorts and sandals on the bottom. "Just so I'm being honest," Goldman writes alongside the photo.

Fellow parents know there's more to the image than just the physical mess: Instead, this photo (and the way it is juxtaposed against the more professional image) is a perfect representation of what we're all dealing with right now. The mental load of parenthood is massive...and, if we're being honest, it almost always falls heavier on the mother (as we recently covered in our digital spotlight Project Mental Unload). Making the appointments, ensuring the house is stocked, keeping tabs on what the kids are eating and learning and playing with and interested in and afraid's exhausting. And doing it without the compartmentalization of actually leaving your home to go to work? It's a lot to deal with, that's for sure.

As a result of all that, sometimes the inside of a parent's mind feels very much like the photo Goldman shared, with a messy background and a mom just trying to hold it all together. Yes, even (or maybe especially) when the outside world only sees a totally composed exterior.

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