You know how it has been said it takes a village to raise a child. Well, in my house, it takes an army. A battle ready, precision timed, quick thinking army. We have boys in this house, wild boys who would, within 2 minutes, take the village hostage and have them hog tied in the bathroom. We have to have the army ready to go at a moments notice, ready to counteract tantrums, plow through homework, decipher Reed's stories and stand up to Ryan. Oh, the army has to also be ready to blow kisses to Ella, sing her silly songs and change a diaper in 5 seconds.
I like to think of my husband as my second in command in our army but in the past 6 months, there has been a well kept secret around my house... Her name is Brigid and she is my secret weapon.
Brigid teaches Kindergarten, Brigid likes babies, Brigid is easy going, Brigid likes wine and vodka and swimming and most of all, Brigid loves the Ella bella and Brigid keeps me sane. Oh - for you new blog readers - she is also my sister in law and currently occupies our downstairs bedroom. I met Brigid a few days after I met Mike just about 15 years ago and yeah, at 11, she wasn't quite my idea of a cool sister in law yet:
but she had potential, and I like to say that I had a hand in making her as beautiful as she is today (eyebrow waxing as bonding time never hurt any friendship):
Right after Ella was born, I will never forget having to tell our family - our Army - that Ella had Down syndrome. I remember blurting it out in a quick breath and crying heavily. I remember my mom and Mike's mom being so calm and I remember Erin running to Barnes and Noble in what had to be the most sad/ confusing/crazy book shopping experience ever. I remember my Dad getting on a plane to be with us and I remember Mike being my rock. I also remember Brigid - vividly. She cried, but she also kept telling me it was OK. She smiled, she acted so different than the rest of us. She wasn't upset and she didn't appear sad. She already knew what would take me a long time to learn. We were the lucky ones to have Ella in our lives.
Brigid is a teacher. You know how some people have a job that is just perfect for them? That explains Brigid. she could do nothing else but teach. She l-o-v-e-s it. In a way that I could never understand, I mean, I like kids, but 30 five year olds 5 days a week, umm, not my thing. Brigid actually loves it, like she looks forward to Mondays to see her kids, she gets to know them, their likes, dislikes, their siblings and their learning styles. When we had Ella, she was the first one that told me it was going to be OK. Ella was going to be just fine. We were going to be just fine.
I don't know what it was, but she knew. Out of all of us, Brigid had more experience with kids with Down syndrome and it was that confidence from her that kept me thinking it wasn't all so bad. She would sit with me for hours, watching Ella, listening to me babble about lost opportunities and sadness and tell me she knew it was going to be OK. That next school year, she pushed to have a little girl with Down syndrome in her class and she shared happy stories with me of how amazing she was. She came home every day with stories of success and happiness and songs sang and normal kindergarten stuff, even for her little girl with Down syndrome. She made me realize that Ella could fit right in. She refuses to see missed milestones and steers me away from google searches gone awry at just the right moment.
I am an only child and I think of Brigid as more of my sister than my sister in law. I won't lie, sometimes I can be mean and she can be clueless, but those moments are fleeting and to see her with my kids and her love for them is so amazing.
She goes everywhere with us and there isn't one awesome trip that hasn't included her. From our enchanted week at Beach Village in Coronado (and every trip there since) to Tahoe and Montauk and anywhere else we have dragged her to, she is a trooper. She puts up with my whiny kids, she puts up with Mike,
and she cuddles with Reed
Since she has moved in with us, she has had her share of being my "second in command". She can control the boys almost as good as Mike and she even did the dishes the other day for me. But most of all, in these last 6 months, she has been my sounding board. She watches Ella learn and reach for her milestones, she listens to my concerns and while she has her own hard issues to deal with, she doesn't let it show when I make my own emotions take priority over everything else.
If I could be selfish, I wouldn't ever let her leave my house. She would be around for the next 30 years to help me make fun of Mike, hang with Ella, chase the boys and share wine with me by the pool. Brigid is a really good dancer, an OK cook and an amazing best friend. She is Ryan's Godmother and Ella shares her middle name for a good reason - they are both amazing, happy people.
Love you Brig. I know you are moving on soon to start you own life and well, I don't like it, but I guess as long as you remember to wax your eyebrows still, I will allow it. Just come home on Sundays still for chicken and pasta salad and swimming and your brother's Usher moves.