LH: A big thanks to Hilary McRee
Flanery, author of
Campin' in Chicago, for your participation in this
interview! Hilary, could you please start off by telling our readers about
yourself and your family?
HMF: I am a Catholic mother of 10 children, six boys, no lamps (the boys
break them all) and four girls. My husband and I are known to be certified
insane. We know this to be a fact as he is a family Clinical Psychologist,
with a Ph. D., or "sheep-skin"; I have a Br. A., or "sheep-dog"; it rounds
them up and gathers them in.
LH: Do you consider
Campin' in Chicago to be a work
of fiction? Some of the stories sound like they hit close to home! Please
briefly summarize the plot of the book for our readers.
Campin' in Chicago is a book of humorous, picaresque, fiction loosely
based on our family. In the book the "Fighting-Flanigans" go on a
hilarious weekend camping trip with their children to Chicago. Flanigan
has only one "n" in the first syllable because someone dropped the other
"n" in the ocean on the way over from the Sod.
Maureen, mother of the 10 Flanigan children, is the happy warrior fighting
"the world, the flesh, the devil" and them Ph. D.'s.
Always trying to shape the world better she believes that the world is
Irish or would like to be...Catholic or should be.
This Irish/American family's camping trip is a lot like life for in the
campgrounds of life you will find campers with virtues and faults. Maureen
Flanigan, the heroine, is a virtuous mother who is keenly alive to her own
faults and the actualities of life surrounding her. "He is lifeless that
is faultless," and Maureen is full of life!
LH: How does a mom of ten find time to write a book?
Did you enjoy the experience?
HMF: Well, as Phyllis Diller says, "Housework won't kill you...why take
a chance?" So I have lots of time to write!
Actually, raising a large family and writing means that I set up strict
priorities. I start at 5:00 a.m. (up with the sparrow's fart) and pray a
prayer that has been in my family since God was a boy - "Come Holy
Ghost...give me the faith of your Saints, the courage of your martyrs, and
the money and success of your atheists."
I enjoy writing very much as it gives me a chance to bare my soul because,
after 10 children, God KNOWS I can't bare my body!
LH: What part has your Catholic faith played in your
HMF: The Catholic faith teaches us to believe in creation of all kinds,
hence, our marriage is opened to children. Our children are the
personification of our love and, simply, we have to trust God completely.
LH: As an experienced mom of many, what tips can you
share with mothers of large families (or even small families that feel
HMF: All mothers, whether they have many children or just one,
sometimes feel overwhelmed. It seems, today, that many parents try to be
perfect or constantly in control of things. Only God is perfect AND in
control. Start each morning with prayer and if you can, the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass. When I can't get to daily Mass, before I start my morning
prayers, I send my guardian angel to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in
the Tabernacle and adore His presence while I pray at home.
In life there will always be days when we run out of toilet paper but,
hey, that's why God made coffee filters!
LH: What role has humor played in your parenting
HMF: Humor has given me immortal joy.
I live by St. Ignatius Loyola's philosophy, "Laugh and grow strong." G.K.
Chesterton wrote, "The carpe diem religion is not the religion of
happy people, but of very unhappy people. Great joy does not gather the
rose buds while it may; its eyes are fixed on the immortal rose which
Dante saw. Great joy has in it the sense of immortality;"
LH: I'm 41 (I hate to admit that!) and I still need
to talk to my "mommy" by phone at least once per day or I begin to go a
little astray. Do you find that you've remained actively involved in
"parenting" your older children?
HMF: "When children are young they break your back, when older, they
break your heart." Yes, I am always the first to hear from our older
children when they have done something wrong. A mother, often, can buffer
the shock for Dad and Dad, being a family Clinical Psychologist, always
wants me to "affirm" the children after correcting and
dialoging with them. So I usually tell them to go to Confession, do
penance and then I "affirm" them with "A FIRM" crack
upside their heads. That's being pretty actively involved in parenting
older children, I'd say!
LH: Thanks again for your time and for sharing this
wonderful book with us Hilary. Are there any final thoughts or comments
you'd like to share with our readers?
HMF: "Don't smoke, eat right, die anyway..." but hopefully in the state of
grace wearing your scapular. God bless!
CatholicMom.com Book Club
Additional Catholic Book Spotlights
Hilary McRee Flanery's
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