It Takes a Village

When I first heard that phrase uttered by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton I bristled. A village? How about an army? I would need more than a village to help raise my brood of seven kids.

Since then the number of my children has increased to 10 and as I consider the context of what she was saying, her comment seems more like suggesting that the village idiot be put in charge of my children. The Clinton White House gave us public marital infidelity and, according to some eyewitnesses, pornography on Air Force One. No, thank you, I do not want the village of Washington, DC, raising my children — but honestly, I could use some help.

So, I began looking for it. First, I hired some really good security guard/nannies — ten, in fact. I actively, openly and prayerfully hired my children’s guardian angels. They are a theological fact. Guardian angels are given by God to watch over us. Now, while my family says the familiar Guardian Angel prayer every morning and evening, I admit that I did so lightly. Not anymore. I now say that prayer with deep conviction and peace knowing that there are angels watching over each and every one of my children. “For to His angels He has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways” (Ps 91:11). Security detail done. I’m still on the ground crew for this detail, but it is very reassuring to know that I’ve got air coverage, so to speak.

Still, I felt I needed some more help. Remember that conversation Jesus had with John at the foot of the Cross? “Woman, behold your son.” “Behold your mother.” Light-bulb moment — my kids have another mother and she is a much better mother than I could ever be! Therefore, every morning I give over the care of my children to their heavenly mother, Mary and her earthly spouse, Joseph, in a simple, honest prayer — “Mary, Joseph, I’m not sure what I’m doing so your help, inspiration, grace and guidance would help. Thank you and amen,” or similar words admitting my ineptitude and acknowledging their proven abilities.

The way I figure it, they did a pretty, good job on their son, Jesus, so I think I can trust them with my crew. Now, I know about the whole temple episode and “losing” Him for three days, but I think that by age 12 children need to take some responsibility for themselves and their whereabouts. And I also think that Jesus wanted to get left behind. I’m also really impressed with Jesus’ behavior after the getting “lost” incident. Whatever Joseph and Mary said to Him on the long walk home worked because we are told, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Lk 2:51). And later we are told, “Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age and favor before God and man” (Lk 2:52). Joseph can lecture my kids anytime he wants. For a man of few words in Scripture he is impressive. There are times I have sent my kids to sit quietly and talk to Joseph about what happened. Their time in silent lecture (on the couch) often works much better than my fifteen-minute lecture of words would have.

My village was still pretty empty so I went about and hired on all of my children’s name saints. Much as I do with Mary and Joseph, I say each of my children’s names out loud in the morning and ask their saints to fill in all the holes I’ll miss and things I’ll forget. While most of them have two saint’s names, one does not, but that didn’t stop me. My one daughter is named for her father’s godmother, a beautiful Catholic woman who is still living and prays for her namesake every day. Her middle name is that of a long-ago babysitter who died suddenly of meningitis at the age of 20, while a senior in college. Christa is not a beatified saint, but that wonderful girl’s life remains an inspiration to us so I’ve hired her, from Purgatory we suppose, to look out for her 12-year-old namesake as well.

Not done, I looked in Butler's Lives of the Saints for some obscure saints who didn’t seem to be already busy. St. Anthony is already working at my house full-time keeping track of my keys and purse, and John Paul II is kept quite busy, I’m sure, keeping watch over the thousands of boys who received his name both during his papacy and since his saintly death. Famous saints are already occupied so I looked for saints that no one was naming their children after, I imagine they wish they had something else to do. I wanted to ask them to take some time away from viewing the beatific vision and spend some looking in on our home and our chaos.

I found St. Zama — interesting name, easy to remember and shout out in time of need. “St. Zama, your intercession is needed now!” When I discovered that he was the first recorded bishop for Bologna, Italy, I laughed right out loud. No longer do I need to seek the help of Oscar Mayer. I also found St. Wisdom, who along with her daughters Faith, Hope and Charity died under Hadrian. My prayers for the necessary doses of those virtues every day now include asking their namesakes for extra help. And finally, Bobo. Yes, we have a St. Bobo. Another easy name to remember and since he was both a knight and later a hermit, I will ask him to watch over my sons in particular. May their busy days growing up end in days of prayer with God. It was fun teaching my children about their newest friends.

So, the house is pretty full. I’m feeling less lonely as my husband and I raise our kids and I’ve come to admit that Hillary might have had something there. You do need a village to raise a family. Just not one inhabited by politicians. Isn’t it wonderful to know that a veritable metropolis of heavenly citizens will take the raising of your children just as seriously as you do?

© Copyright 2006 Catholic Exchange

Rachel Watkins, wife of Matt and mother of 10, is a contributor to Heart, Mind, Strength Radio program and the blogsite, She is also the creator of The Little Flowers Girls’ Club,

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage