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Kari Byron, Mythbuster Mom: Affirmations for a Working Mom

Kari-StellaRuby-475x475“You can have it all.”

I can’t express how much I hate that cliché phrase. If I read another article about a celebrity mom who balances an amazing career with the perfect family, all while giving cooking/housekeeping tips, I am going to dig my eyes out with a rusty spoon. (Wait, I guess I can express it.) Maybe you can “have it all” if you don’t include such concepts as sleep, a clean house, and a healthy relationship with coffee.

Maybe my cynicism is due to my 16 month old having all her teeth come in at once and having learned to yell “mommy” when she needs me…repeatedly…all night long. Today I am a zombie; and I am pretty sure that is apple sauce in my hair.

Being a working mom is hard. Anyone that tells you different is lying. Not that I would have it any other way. I never really entertained the idea that I would give up my career. I am on Mythbusters, for Pete’s sake! I would love to stay at home with my Stella Ruby. After all, she is the most beautiful baby ever born. I love her so much I could bring myself to tears just thinking about her. Though hard, this is the most amazing adventure.

I do have dark moments of working-mom guilt, but I actively try to crush them with my list. I am a list person. Here is my list of working mom affirmations:

  1. My daughter has a positive role model of a career woman. She can be anyone she wants to be.
  2. I never take a moment with her for granted. She has my full attention and I savour my time with her like dark chocolate.
  3. She has a college fund and she is only 1.
  4. I am the first one she sees in the morning and the one who kisses her goodnight.
  5. My mom worked and I turned out fine, right?

And if those don’t work, I just say “Thank you, age of technology!” What did mommies do before iphones, Skype, web cameras, texting and cell phones? My daughter and I connect digitally all day. Even my co-workers love watching videos of her that I shove in front of them — or they love me enough to pretend.

So far, she seems like a well-adjusted, outgoing, happy child. I guess I haven’t screwed her up yet.

 

Kari Byron is a born tinkerer and explorer. By the age of 5, she was experimenting on her sister and using dolls as crash test dummies. Luckily for her parents, they always caught her right before her little sister took a ride down a laundry chute or was the subject of an "around-the-world" attempt on the playground swings. Kari began her career as a sculptor and painter before finding her dream jobs on MythBusters and Head Rush, where she gets to explore and experiment to her heart’s content. Kari lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.

65 Comments
  1. Dave R.

    There’s not many parents who get to run home to their kids saying, “Guess what I did today?! – I blew something up with a big BANG!!”

    As the proud papa of a 3 yr old, I find it hard to relate to my son when he tells me all about playing at school, and I’m dead on my feet exhausted and my brain is numb. But I love those days where I do get to have some fun, and he understands what I’m talking about.

    Never feel guilty about having something fun to share with your child! :) Or about having one of the coolest “mom jobs” on the planet!! LOL

  2. Kari, you’re a GREAT role-model for your daughter, and for all the other little girls out there. When my 5-year old daughter told me that she wants to be a Mythbuster when she grows up, that was one of the proudest moments of my mommy life. Thank you, Kari!

    • Kari is the reason my 5 y.o. daughter loves Mythbusters. She asks “Is Kari smarter than all the boys?”. I say “Plausible”.

  3. Michelle

    I love your affirmations! Thank you for writing an article that is realistic!

  4. Antigone

    Damn straight you can have it all! But only if you are not the one doing it all :). It takes a village? no, a small army to keep things running only slightly lumpy in our house. There’s the FedEx guy who delivers from Amazon, everything from last minute birthday presents to Asian spices, the cleaner who comes every other week to scrub things… many many things, the automated pharmacy guy who calls to tell us our refills are due and then that they are done and at the drive through, and the buddy who graciously watches sick kids if she doesn’t have well ones, and the friend who takes my daughter to school… the only days she is ever on time, the parents who come to watch grandkids during extended holidays. Oh, yes. I have it all…. but seriously that’s because I only do half of it :)

  5. Amen Sister! We’ve all heard that being a mom is a full time job. They lied. It’s is an all encompassing lifetime commitment. Jobs have a start and an end. Momhood doesn’t. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But that doesn’t change the fact that the bills still want paid and ramen is not a healthy food choice for my three year old.

    I love your list! As a single working mom I literally have no choice at all but to work to support my daughter. And guilt is always an issue.

    Thanks much Kari! And yay for blowing stuff up.

  6. I have to agree. My wife and I work hectic, but glorious jobs and while we aren’t the best parents, we do our best. Our kids have stability and love. I have my doubts that they would want more than that. Thanks for the good article Kari.

  7. Thank you so much for going back to work. My 6 year old daughter LOVES to watch you and it makes my heart swell to hear “Mama, can I watch Mythbusters now, I think they’re going to blow something up today.” Yay. You’re a great role model for little girls everywhere. (And for little boys to see women in traditionally male roles! You rock it hard core!)

  8. Annette

    Kari, you are one of the only people to be real about parenthood & not tie a pretty bow on it all while not being covered in kid gook! Being a working mom of 2 I respect that so much & thank you.

    Like many here, my daughter (7) loves you. She says you are the best. Gets her homework done to watch Head Rush, and both my son (10) and her stay up to watch at least one episode of Mythbusters. It warms my heart that they both can see that science is fun, get educational knowledge, and my daughter can see a strong woman in a man dominated world

  9. Sandra Norman

    My son is 11& my daughter is 7, and it is exhausting working but I think they’ve turned out more confident than I did with a stay at home mom.
    And they have a mom that is happy and who shows them other aspects. Staying home is great, but it’s not for everyone. Enjoy. My house may be a mess, but my kids are happy.

  10. Sharla

    Beautifully said, Kari. I, too, have a 16-month-old who is getting her incisors and can let out a hearty wail with a “Mom-mom-mom-mom” in the middle of the night. I think the definition of “having it all” is far too material. Fulfillment, though, is absolutely possible.

  11. celestialred

    As a WOHM of two young daughters, I can say that “Having it all” as a working mom is a crock! :D

    And it’s a very tough balancing…no, JUGGLING act. I have fallen (and still do on occasion) into the guilt-trip trap of “the grass is always greener,” and yearn to quit my job to be a full-time SAHM. But I know that not only am I not wired that way, we simply couldn’t make it on just my DH’s income.

  12. Having grown up with a working (single) mother, I learned more about independence and confidence in myself by age ten than most of my current peers have learned by now (in our late 20’s). My sister is the same way – we are determined to envision and fulfill our goals in our own unique way, without falling prey to the criticism and manipulations of other people, thanks to a powerful (albeit frazzled & exhausted) working mom. I can promise all the parents here that your children will thank you when they grow up – I call my mother every day to thank her for being a strong & sassy role model!

  13. MonkeyBoy

    I bet she’s going to have the coolest experiments for Science Fair (if they still even do those in school) or just be DQ’d since her mom is a MythBuster.

  14. It’s so refreshing to hear it told like it is! I don’t think it helps either parents or kids when people pretend that you can have/do it all seamlessly and without complaint.

  15. I think she will grow up being proud of her mum and the ideals she has taught her.

  16. Fabulous post. Amen to everything you have said. Would I rather stay home with my kids? Absolutely. Unfortunately that is not a viable financial option for us right now. So we make do. We make the best of the time we have together. We have sought out and found the absolute best caregivers who we have 100% faith and trust in. And that gives me a little peace of mind.

  17. hans mennel

    I wanted to state i am dating a single mother of 2 boys 3 and 6 yrs old. they are her world and she works so hard to take care of them. those affrimations that you put are things she has told me so many times that she sais to her self. i believe that a working mom can do anything that they sit there mind too. so go and be the wonder woman that you know you can do and show your daughter there is nothing you can’t do if you believe you can do it.

  18. Leon Stark

    You have hit the nail on the head (Which head though, Grant’s or Tori’s, as they think they are both so sharp |-) ) I will not wonder that your Stella Ruby becomes a junior MythBuster when she can manipulate the tools. You will have SO MUCH to share, and not just crafts and cooking! Your child will have a rich (like dark chocolate) and wonderful (like busting myths) life. May it be “interesting”.

  19. Oh, the “toddler teeth are coming in” stage…I think I still have PTSD from that. :-) We survived it with bits of popsicle (the healthier kind) just before meals, spoons kept in the fridge to teethe on in between times, and a 3AM dose of Tylenol when the sleep deprivation reached dangerous levels.

    I agree, a working mom who enjoys her job is a great thing for a child. And as the parent of a geek boy who seems to prefer girls, I am also really grateful that you embody a women who works at something besides child care, has a full life, displays a wide range of interests and goes out and learns new things on a regular basis.

    And all of us should be grateful for the vanguard of geek women like you who are beginning to chip away at the societal notion that an attractive woman cannot be taken seriously.

  20. Kari,

    Thanks so much for writing this! I don’t have children yet, but have friends who struggle with the belief that they should be able to do it all. I’m sad for them and also angry that our society keeps giving women the message that they must be everything to everyone. When do we say enough?

  21. Thank you! My mom always rolled her eyes when she heard that phrase, and now that I’m a working mom too I completely understand why.

    And even though I work from home, it’s still hard. Keeping a toddler out of a smithy is NOT easy, no matter how many locks you put on the door.

    PS – It’s because of you guys that Lemony learned how to count backwards! Except she always adds a “Boom!” at the end. ^_~

  22. Keep up the good work Kari!!!

    Just wait, within the next year or two, or possibly if you happen to have a second kid, your wits will be frazzled worse than Adams singed eyebrows. As a father of 2 VERY active daughters (8 and 3) I can tell you that you better enjoy the “starting to walk” and the nice time you have had the past 16 months, the next 10-17 years will be a type of hell Adam and Jamie could never recreate in a lab. But it is definitely all worth it!

  23. I LOVE Kari Byron. She adds so much to Mythbusters (and therefore she adds to my life :)
    Stella Ruby is a lucky little girl to have such a caring, hard-working mom.
    Hang in there Kari. I think it will get a little easier as Stella gets older, then it may get hard again when she becomes a teen.

  24. Matt from Durban, South Africa

    I stumbled across your blog via a Mythbuster’s Facebook posts. You might not realise it but I think this represent such an important and equally awesome aspect of social networking.

    As a huge fan of yourself and the rest of Mythbusters team I find it such a testimony to you not just being an ‘actor’ but a true geek who lives the dream, shooting/shocking/beating/punching/eating/drinking anything that makes you inquisitive on the show.

    Keep up the good work!

  25. Excellent post Kari. My daughter is 3 and we have another on the way. I just tell myself “supermom is a myth”. My house is a mess and the Halloween decorations still need to go back in storage but my daughter is healthy, happy and well adjusted.

    Keep up the good work mom, you’re doing a great job.

  26. Hi Kari,
    A colleague of mine recommended I visit you here and I am really grateful to have read your affirmations. I did it the backward way. I thought I HAD to stay home, gave up my career and realized that I had lost myself over the ten years I stayed at home. I am back to work and approaching my 100th day of a 365 day odyssey- an epic journey to the Self! And I know my two children appreciate me more now that I’m sailing rather than moored!

  27. Kari. I’m a single Dad and totally think that your beliefs and things that you make priorities are right on with mine. You are an amazing woman. Smart.. Caring.. Funny.. And beautiful. We’d make an amazing pair and your daughter is a very lucky child! You should email me!!

  28. Heather K

    I’m not a mom, but I think this is a fantastic article. I also think your daughter will have the coolest role model EVER for a mom. :) Yay Kari!!!

  29. Enjoy these years because they go by so fast (an expression I’ve always hated but unfortunately, it’s true). My wife is handicapped and has been in a wheelchair since before we were married. Our daughter came along 5 years later and is now 11. We cherish the times that we’re all together as a family. Annalyn helps her Mom all the time and is an amazing kid. She even wrote an introduction that she read in front of 300 world-class athletes in NYC when she was only 8 (my wife and I were Runner’s World Heroes of Running). You can watch it if you’d like on Lynjame.com. Click on the “Media” tab. Keep up the good work, Kari. Love the show too!

  30. Congrats to you and that pretty little girl Stella Ruby!! I agree, she has a very good role model to be her own woman!!

  31. Great post. I think Kari is a total inspiration. She’s a geek like me (Stanford/Comicon), a hardworking woman, and a mother. I love every aspect of my life. Thanks Kari and keep up the good work. Make sure to take a break every now and again. http://www.latrunkshows.com helps single mom’s make ends meet. :)

  32. Kari is very intelligent and interesting person. Nobody can substitute her with Mythbusters show – she is one of its faces. God bless her and her family!

  33. Me and my boys absolutely do love Mythbusters and Kari as one of team members. She’s got brilliant sense of humour!
    And Kari is right – having kids and working is damn difficult task, of course if you wanna be a devoted parent.

  34. Andrea

    As being only 21 and childless (thank goodness) and having a mother who stayed at home i can say this: As much as i love my mom i wish she did work. Because she drives me insane with her not having anything to do all day so she dictates what i am and am not allowed to do.

    keep your career cause if you don’t you’ll go insane from boredom.

  35. So listen, I’m aware that this is highly inappropriate considering you’re talking about your child & such; but i felt the need to express my undying love for you…

    consider it & get back to me.

  36. After all the things you’ve learned on Mythbusters does your daughter own more pieces or armor/protection than Tori?

    Cherish every moment!

    Oh, and of course I’m a huge fan, work right down the street and never seen ya though…

  37. Paul Stefanik

    I think we had our kids at roughly the same time, which is odd considering how huge a fan I am. Of course, in my case, it’s her yelling “Daddy” that I have to contend with.

  38. Paul Stefanik

    Oh, and we have a college fund too.

    It feels good, trying to set her up better than I was.

  39. David Amaya

    Wonderful mom = wonderful kid… It would be a wonderful world if every kid had a mom like you! Love the pic. Cheers.

  40. “She has a college fund and she is only 1.”

    haha! love it! that’s what i plan to do too.

  41. Cherish your time with your children,our daughter passed away 10 minutes after she was born. Spend as much time with them as you can because you never know whats around the corner!!!

  42. Could not agree more with Kari!
    Young mom has to have a lot of energy and power. Keep on reminding it to oneself.

    But technology and iphone;) There is an app for iphone available via AppStore that helps to create own affirmations and remind it to use at night and during the day. Maybe that will help?

  43. Staceyjw aka escaped to mexico

    Kari is awesome!!!!BTW its not like hot women were ever really thought to be dumb, it just seems so unfair that someone can be hot AND smart, so some jealous people started that rumor, lol ;)

    You can have it all, if you are creative and willing to do things differently :) Not being materialistic helps a LOT too.

    I DO have it all- and my stay at home husband/daddy really makes this possible.I don’t know why more women that want a career and family don’t try this out. We also moved to Mexico where we can afford a housekeeper and any other help we need.Yeah, I have to cross the CA border a few days a week (when not in home office) for work, but its worth it!

    PS- I’ve never had guilt about working, and never would.Why? Do working dads have guilt? Does anyone expect them too? There’s your answer…..

    Career moms are just as good as SAHMs, and spend nearly the same amount of time w their kids anyway.

    Keep up the good work Kari, you’re a great role model.

  44. It’s very refreshing to hear a celebrity mom actually say that it is hard to balance work and kids. I find that in our society that it is expected of mothers to quickly get back to their careers after having a child. And so for people like me, who have decided to be a stay at home mom, it seems to be frowned upon, as if I didn’t already have enough mommy-guilt to deal with already. Anyhow, it’s just nice to hear someone I respect and admire say that it’s challenging to have to decide between work time and baby time. I agree!

  45. lisa s

    I love the list and the candor! (and my kids and I would have been very disappointed if Kari had NOT returned to MythBusters!)

  46. Good on ya Kari. I’m a big fan of affirmations and especially when mixed with a great dose of reality as you have also.

  47. Veronica R

    I was a working mom for the first 2 years of my baby’s life. I HATED it. I was nursing and my job gave me CONSTANT crap about the time I took to pump. I didn’t suppliment with formula, she was a total breast fed baby, which meant that I had to pump 4 times during the working day. Though they made it hell, I didn’t give up like so many are forced to do. We made it 15 and a half months. I felt like the only time I got to see her was when she was tired, hungry and cranky. I give a lot of props to working moms and especially those who DON’T say, “I love my kids, but I love my time away from them at work.” If that’s the case, why the hell did you have kids in the first place?

    I love you on the show Kari and I love that you have embraced being a mom and are finding ways to keep in touch with your baby while at work. It’s AWESOME.

  48. Sophie

    “My daughter has a positive role model of a career woman. She can be anyone she wants to be.”

    What about being in FHM? I honestly thought you were joking when you said in Mythbusters tonight that you had just got back from an FHM photoshoot. Sadly I was wrong.

    Science is still such a male dominated area and I thought it was great to have an intelligent, articulate, confident woman on Mythbusters as a role model for girls (and women) watching the show.

    Magazines such as FHM might look innocuous but they support the notion that the main role of women is to look pretty and amuse men.

    You have so much more to offer than this.

  49. That’s great Kari! Mom’s who can juggle 2 things they love best, their children and a career without complete chaos…that is awesome! I am just a fulltime mom right now, but hope to one day pursue some of my other passions! I know what you mean about the love you have for your daughter..I feel the same way with my 2 babes! We wouldn’t want you to leave the show anyway!! I love you on there! you, grant and tory work so well together and make it enjoyable! Mythbusters has become my favorite show and part of it is because of you! ;)

  50. Even my co-workers love watching videos of her that I shove in front of them — or they love me enough to pretend.

    I truly love that they pretend. :)

  51. Kari, Can I just say that I LOVE that your a baby wearer, and that your doing it in something other than a baby bjorn, lol. My husband and I are huge myth buster fan’s. We have been watching the show since the first season. Good luck to you and your family. Being a mom is the hardest job you’ll ever love.

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