Char Weiler and her husband have chosen to “let the children come,” and at age 27 she recently gave birth to her fifth child. Char consistently makes choices that prioritize her children’s spiritual education and their time together as a family. Her love for her family, the Savior and her divine role as a mother reveal a confident, powerful and beautiful woman.
What examples of successful mothering have you had in your own life?
Fortunately, I had a mother who was very nurturing. My mom worked while I was young because she had to help pay for my father’s education. It wasn’t something she wanted to do. But my mom was really good about dropping whatever she was doing if one of her kids had a need. That’s the thing that stands out most about my mom. She genuinely cared about us. She was very physically compassionate, always. Even when I was 18 years old she would still rock me in the rocking chair. Nurturing came to her naturally. And I’ve got to add my dad in there too! He really did a lot to teach me how to take personal criticism so that I could grow as a person. He taught me the importance of integrity.
Is there a specific lesson that comes to mind?
Yes, there is. My mom had to go back to work when I was in junior high school so I babysat my little brothers when I got home from school. I remember one day in particular I really wanted to make chocolate chip cookies. I called my mom and asked, “Can I make cookies?” And she said, “No, I’m tired, I’ve been working all day. I don’t want to come home to a mess in the kitchen.” I told her, “I will clean it up! I promise!” So she finally gave in. Well, after the cookies were made, I got distracted and ended up watching some TV instead of cleaning the kitchen, and I fell asleep without fulfilling my promise.
At about two o’clock in the morning, my dad dragged me out of bed. My mom had come home from work and the kitchen was in shambles. My father stood there while I cleaned all the dishes, wiped down the counters. And when I was done he said, “When you make a promise, you need to keep it.” I just hated his guts that night! But it was probably one of the most enduring lessons he ever taught me. Cause it worked: as I cleaned, I thought, “Man, my mom would have been doing this after a whole day of work.” Afterwards, he hugged me and told me he loved me but he wanted me to understand what was acceptable behavior in our home and in life.
Since I’ve been married, the person whose example has affected me most has been my mother-in-law. She’s an amazing woman. She was a stay-at-home mom and raised ten kids. She’s consistent with her teaching, specifically teaching her kids the gospel. She has a love for reading, is incredibly frugal and very very loving, compassionate. She is pioneer stock. She’s taught me the value of being a mom and the potential strength you can gain from motherhood. She is long suffering and patient, and she doesn’t come by that naturally. Naturally, she has a temper but she has learned to overcome the impatience and the trials and the exhaustion of motherhood. It’s shaped her into a beautiful, strong, wise, well-read woman. People seek her out for advice. She’s one of my best friends.
Did you and your husband discuss the size of your family before you got married?
We did. We don’t have a specific number we’re working towards, but we do take them as they come. We try sincerely to accept what we can take, not just what would be convenient. We joke around about having a dozen… and that might happen with our pace!
Just having completed your fifth pregnancy, are you comfortable with the path you’re on?
I am amazed by the Lord’s ability to expand my capabilities as a mother. It is overwhelming at times. I’m busy, but I’m happy. It’s hard work, but I’m willing to do it. I remember being overwhelmed with my first baby. I remember crying when my husband came home. I look back on that and I just laugh because I’ve grown so much! I know that the Lord will provide. I don’t worry about having enough love for my babies because I’ve learned that motherly love does not divide, it multiplies.
Why is it important to you to take as many children as you are capable of?
Those children’s spirits are going to go somewhere, and I want them to come here. I know they will be coming to a loving place. It’s a really committed form of missionary work at its heart. These children are born in the covenant and they will always be a part of that, always a part of the happiness we share. Plus, I love big families. Children who come from big families tend to be less selfish, I’ve noticed, because they have to give more, share more. I think it’s wonderful to bring a baby into this home. Already, our newest little one has six people who love her and dote on her every smile and it’s a great network to be born into.
Is motherhood something you always aspired to? Is it natural for you or are there some things you’ve had to work on?
I’ve always wanted to be a mom, but I did not always see motherhood in the light that I do now. I have to say, there was a time when I wondered whether mere motherhood would fulfill me and enable me to employ my talents and reach my potential. I asked Heavenly Father about it. It was on a walk one day that I received my answer. I was having a conversation with the Lord, sort of an informal prayer, something I do a lot. I put to Him the questions that had been stirring me. In response, I heard a still small voice ask me a question: “What more could I ask of you than to raise a child of mine?” It was then that I realized how much Heavenly Father values motherhood. If we, his children, truly are his greatest creation, then anything else we do in this life pales in comparison to parenthood. Godhood is parenthood. That marked the beginning of the path I’m trying to follow today. I know that Father in Heaven looks on mothers’ work with great respect and eternal gratitude. We are doing great things, and though there are times when we crave more tangible, immediate evidences of success, there will come a day when our posterity will rise up and call us blessed, and God will claim us as his own and tell us we’ve done well.
The work of motherhood has become fulfilling for me, especially when I have an eternal perspective on what I’m doing. As I’ve become less self-conscious and more confident in my mothering abilities, I don’t crave that external fulfillment anymore. I love reading. I love growing, but I no longer feel like I need to go outside my home to get fulfillment. I probably will go back to school someday just because I love to learn and I won’t always be doing this forever.
My undergraduate work was in musical theater. I would probably go into something else now, since I’ve been reading all of these books as an adult and discovering these other sides of myself that I didn’t know I had. When I do go back to school I’ll be a more seasoned person. I’ll really get to milk my education. I’m very excited about that.
What specific decisions have you and your husband made to put your family first?
I couldn’t raise these children without my husband really being there and being an active part of what we do. When he comes home, he is home. He has hobbies, but he is available to the kids and to me. We make decisions about our family every night. We talk about how the kids are doing, how we’re doing, what we’ll try tomorrow, what impressions we’ve had during the day. It’s just what we talk about.
The first thing we’ve done to put our family first is we let them come, as we are feeling up to it. We have them. We focus on having patience — it can be chaotic to have lots of little voices and running feet and tantrums. We’ve tried really hard to make the children the priority. I think it was President Ezra Taft Benson who said to prioritize the Lord in your life and everything will fall into place or fall out of your life. That’s something we live by.
We try not to take on too much excess. I want to be able to follow my mom’s example: I want to be able to sit down and really listen. There are times when I don’t do this as well as I’d like, and I feel so disconnected from my kids. Really the joy of motherhood comes from listening to them, when they say funny or inspiring things. When they teach you where you need to improve.
Your husband is a lawyer. Have you made career decisions as a couple that would allow him to spend more time with your family?
Yes, when my husband finished law school at Harvard, we chose to move to a law firm in Oregon that didn’t pay as much as our other options but required fewer billable hours. I recognize that not every woman can choose to stay home with her children like I can, but my husband’s job can provide for us. My husband and I choose to put our family first in that way. He could be doing something more aggressive with his career but we chose this firm and the location for our family.
Are there mothering tools or tricks you use frequently?
Temporally, the mothering tool that is most effective is multi-tasking! Spiritually, I do not do half as well during the day if I have not read the scriptures in the morning.
Do the scriptures provide mothering guidance, or does reading them put you in a frame of mind where you can deal with the day’s demands?
I think it’s both. The Lord blesses us according to our obedience and I feel like I show Him that I’m submitting to His will when I put it first in the morning, before my kids are even awake. When I wake up early to read my scriptures, everything is smoother. I am blessed both by the words in the scriptures and through the impressions that come throughout the day.
The scriptures have recently helped me understand my oldest daughter better. We moved about a year ago and she just started attending school this past fall. She is struggling to adjust to all the changes in her life right now. The kids at school can be mean, and her self-esteem has taken a hit. I wonder how I’m doing as her mother guiding her through these changes and whether or not I’m messing her up in some way. I tend to be harder on her than on my other children. I ask myself, Why? I’ve been very prayerful about it, and have come to the conclusion that I do it because of fear. She’s my oldest, and I judge my progress by her. I don’t like to feel like a failure. Fear is the antithesis of faith. Fear is from the devil. Faith is how the Lord wants me to motivate my daughter. It’s really like the priesthood: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by gentleness and by long-suffering, by love unfeigned; By kindness and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy and without guile. Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.” (Doctrine & Covenants 121: 41-44)
Another tool that’s helped our family is to do a devotional every morning. I got this idea from my mother-in-law. She did this every morning, which really blew my mind when I met her family. They got up at 5 o’clock because her kids had seminary. They would sing and pray and read the scriptures. The kids went off to school with the right perspective. It also taught them patience! There were mornings when they just did not want to do it. Elder David Bednar put it very eloquently in the last General Conference when he described the scene in his house: “He’s breathing my air!”
We carry on this tradition in our family, and there are times when we don’t feel we get much out of it. Then there are times when it’s just magical and the Spirit is there and it’s just amazing. Doing this teaches the kids to sit through a lesson. It teaches them how to be patient and loving and recognize the Spirit. I try to tie everything back to the gospel and it gives us an opportunity to start our day with that perspective.
You mentioned that you love to read. Are there other things you do to refill your personal well?
Exercise is my stress relief. I try to eat well. Every day, I have a quiet time. The kids play on their own and I go up to my room and take a nap if I need it. Or I read. Also, I get a night off every week when my husband takes over with the kids, so I go out with friends or work on a project that’s important to me.
I try to let down when I play with my kids, and put housework or other things aside. That’s really hard for me, but I try to keep my perspective. My son is at a stage where he tells me at least 20 times a day that he hates me. It hurt the first two hundred times, then I just stopped caring. I know he doesn’t realize what he’s saying. He’s so fickle in his affections. His loyalty lasts only as long as I keep the cookies coming. Still, there are those magical times when I am administering relief to a boo-boo. He tells me, “I ludge you doe much.” I look deeply into his eyes and I know he’s sincere. That fills my well enough to get me through the next week’s “I hate you”s!
What is your educational philosophy for your children?
Well, my oldest just started first grade, and it’s her first year in school. I didn’t put her into Kindergarten, and that last year we had together was a bonding year for the two of us. We became very close. I just didn’t think she was ready for school. I wanted another year to really teach her to listen to her conscience and build her confidence.
From their education, I hope my kids are able to see God in spite of the secular world we live in. I hope they learn to be good missionaries, and to develop good people skills. I hope they learn a love for work and learning. I know that the education they get at home will be spiritually-based.
The more kids I have, the more interesting reactions I get from people as I go places. The things I usually hear are, “Oh, I’d love more kids but I just don’t have the patience.” For me, it’s been an opportunity to develop patience. Living for someone else is living like Christ. I love being a mom because it gives me an opportunity not just to live for my work but to live like Christ. It gives me skills like patience, compassion, hope, not to mention the temporal skills of running a house. Wouldn’t the world be such a better place if people had moms who really cared?
At A Glance
Location: Portland, OR
Marital status: Married almost 8 years
Children: Five (ages 6, 5, 3, 2, and 2 months)
Schools Attended: Weber State University
Languages Spoken at Home: English, Spanish
Favorite Hymn: “There Is Sunshine In My Soul”
Current Church Calling: Ward choral director
Interview by Neylan McBaine. Photos used with permission.
At A Glance