INTERVIEW: Deborah Brewer

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Deborah Brewer and her son Charles, then 21 months old, appeared on the cover of the very first edition of Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Photo by Elene Fox.
Deborah Brewer and her son Charles, 21 months old, appeared on the cover of the very first edition of Raising Arizona Kids magazine in March 1990. Photo by Elene Fox.

It is three days before the due date for her second child and less than a week since her family moved into their new Paradise Valley home.

She comes to the door, radiantly pregnant, and holds out her hand with a warm smile.

“Hi, I’m Deborah Brewer,” she says.

More than 10 years ago, that smile and a simple introduction catapulted Deborah into a career as a popular and top-rated anchor for the local CBS affiliate, KTSP (Channel 10).

Competing in the nationally televised 1979 Miss America pageant, the blonde University of Georgia student drawled, “Hi, I’m Debbie Mosely, and I want to be on TV.” Watching her from far away in Phoenix were Bill Close, then Channel 10’s anchorman, and Tom Chauncey, then the station’s owner.

“Let’s get her,” the two agreed that night.

It took two years (Deborah wanted to finish her degree) but they got her.

Arriving in Phoenix in 1981, with no more experience than what she’d gained as a radio and TV major, Deborah immediately began anchoring the weekend news broadcasts. With the departure of Close’s co-anchor, Mary Jo West, about a year later, Deborah began anchoring the weekday news broadcasts.

She was Deborah Pyburn then. And she was popular. In the eight years she was on the air, Channel 10 enjoyed some of its healthiest ratings periods ever.

In 1986, she met Robert Brewer, a commercial real estate agent and the son of wealthy personal injury lawyer Charles Brewer. The two were married a year later and decided immediately to start a family. Deborah worked at Channel 10 until a week before her son, Charles Robert Jr., was born in 1987. She said she was “amazed” that her popularity surged during her pregnancy.

After the highly publicized birth of her son (the station ran footage of the Brewer family at the hospital) Deborah was urged to return to Channel 10.

“I kept saying, ‘Talk to me in a few weeks, maybe I’ll be ready then,” Deborah remembers. Except for two brief appearances during a series of Mothers’ Day stories (she was videotaped with baby Charles on her lap), “from the day he was born, I never worked. I just never wanted to leave him.”

Sitting in the sunlight-filled family room of her beautiful new home, Deborah Brewer is surrounded by her family.

Her parents, Gordon and Sara Mosely, are outside. Her mother is sweeping the patio and playing with her 21-month-old son, Charles. Her father is tending to some small fix-it jobs, and seeking a baseball for Charles. They have come from Georgia to be with Deborah, to help when the new baby arrives.

Later in the morning, Deborah’s mother-in-law, Lavon Brewer, arrives. Greeting everyone warmly, she proceeds to seek out her grandson and accompany him on a walk around the perimeter of the backyard. A few minutes later, she comes back to the house and says she must leave. From all indications, she has made the trip just to spend a few minutes with Charles.

I ask Sara Mosely whether she was a stay-at-home mom.

“Well, I was a working girl — a legal secretary,” she says. “But when Deborah was a baby, she just had an awful time when I would leave her. It was really hard for her. So I talked to my doctor about it and he said, ‘Unless you’re working to put food on the table, I think you should give up your job.’ So I did, and I stayed home with my children from then on.”

Perhaps it is that example that furthered Deborah’s resolve to stay at home. She considers herself somewhat of an advocate for stay-at-home moms, but admits that not everyone can do it as easily as she.

“I think mothers should stay home when they can,” she says, admitting that her own good fortune and affluent lifestyle made her choice less difficult.

Not that being a stay-at-home mom has always been easy.

“When Charles was first born, I wanted everything to be perfect,” she says. “In my business, you are expected to always have perfect hair, perfect clothes, everything has to be perfect. I wanted to be the perfect mom. And then here was this crying, almost colicky baby! Much as I’d wanted children, I remember calling my mom about three days after they’d gone back to Georgia and saying, ‘I think I made a mistake!’ Then the next day was a better day. I remember writing in my diary, ‘Maybe I’m getting the hang of this.'”

Deborah says she read every article she could find about parenting and “there is no question those resources have helped me be a better mom.” She also has relied on the support and advice of family and friends — including one she called in the middle of the night during a moment of new-mother panic.

“My son was crying,” Deborah now remembers with a laugh. “I called up my girlfriend and asked if I should take him to the hospital!”

Her most difficult parenting challenge now, she says, is discipline.

“I don’t want to be so permissive that my children are brats nobody wants to have around,” she says. “But it’s so hard for me to discipline. I love to laugh and play.”

Charles, at almost 2, “is challenging me,” she says, and she is bracing herself, trying to prepare by reading articles about discipline and setting limits for her son.

Her strongest hope, she says, is that “whatever kind of mother I am, my children will say, ‘My mom was always there for me.’ I want them to know that I love them no matter what.”

Her favorite children’s book, in fact, is Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever, in which a devoted mother sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always…” to her son each night, even as he grows up and does some not-always-likable things.

Charles has decided it is lunchtime. As his grandfather plops hotdogs in a pan, Deborah rises to help with the preparations. Charles pleads loudly for his “ba ba” (bottle). The serenity of the morning is broken and Deborah sounds like any other mother of a 2-year-old.

“In a minute, Charles. In a minute.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Six days after this interview, on Feb. 1, 1990, Deborah gave birth to 7 lb., 8 oz. Chase Ryan Brewer.

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