My children call her Mrs. Barrett. I call her Amy.
We carpool for sports and coordinate camps during the summer. We exchange insights about our kids and humorous anecdotes. We bring each other meals in life’s crucial moments — a new baby, a sickness, a surgery, a death in the family.
I first met Amy Coney Barrett 11 years ago when my husband and I, accompanied by our two small children, visited Notre Dame when he was being recruited to join the law school faculty.
Amy was warm and welcoming, just weeks from the arrival of her fourth child. We talked easily and freely as if we had known each other forever.
She was an engaged listener, which struck me because most people, including most important people, are often only interested in talking about themselves. Not Amy. She genuinely wanted to get to know me and learn about me.
She was an experienced mother and accomplished professional but not immune to the same challenges and questions that all mothers and professionals grapple with.
As my husband and I settled into our new life at Notre Dame with our growing family, Amy and her husband, Jesse, became models for us of parenting and how to juggle a busy family and work life.
Our children grew to be friends, and Amy’s oldest daughter became our babysitter.
I always admire Amy and Jesse for raising truly good children: they are well-behaved and respectful, and they seem to have either inherited or internalized Amy and Jesse’s own wonderful qualities of being caring, conscientious, and compassionate to all.
Whenever their daughter would watch our children, my husband and I would arrive home to marvel not only to see happy kids but also to a house cleaner than we had left it!
Amy is a seasoned mother—one might even say, a “baby whisperer.” I recall a trivia night at the local parish where we sat with the Barretts and brought our youngest child, Fiona.
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Fiona was only a few months old then and started to fuss. Without hesitation, Amy looked at me and said, “Let me walk with her.” Amy picked up Fiona, walked around while visiting with friends and colleagues, and rocked Fiona back and forth.
To my delight, Amy comforted her instantly and was able to settle her down to that calm, “ready-to-sleep” state, that every mother so appreciates.
Amy and Jesse lead everyday lives like many other Americans—balancing work, family and all those special occasions.
One particular moment sticks out: a birthday party the Barretts organized for their youngest daughter. When I arrived to drop two of our daughters at the party, there was a bounce house set-up in the yard. I was surprised to see Jesse out with the hose, given the cool weather. I thought to myself, “gosh, it seems a little chilly for a water slide.”
When I asked Jesse if the kids needed bathing suits, he looked at me and calmly sighed, saying “No, no. One of the guests threw up on the bounce house.” While Jesse meticulously sanitized the bounce house, Amy immediately and calmly shifted gear to help the sick child and to set up a new activity for the other guests.
That day I saw so many admirable traits on display in Amy and Jesse that I seek to emulate in my own life—teamwork, grace under pressure, and compassion for the sick and those in need.
When Amy was confirmed as a judge, life became even busier (although no less organized!) for the Barretts.
Even before Amy’s appointment, Jesse was usually the one seen driving the kids around South Bend or coordinating with me and other parents regarding drop-off and pick-up times.
After Amy became a judge, Jesse took on an even greater share of the household responsibilities. At law school functions, Jesse and I would compare notes on the best approach to grocery shopping (In-store versus delivery? And which store had the best prices?).
At Amy’s investiture ceremony, Jesse gave a truly moving and inspiring speech about Amy and their life together.
I later told him, “Jesse, one of the reasons Amy is able to be so successful as a lawyer, a law professor, and now as a judge is because of what you do behind the scenes to support her and your family.”
My husband and I had the honor of being with Amy and Jesse the last time the president nominated a justice to the Supreme Court.
Amy was one of the finalists. We arrived expecting lots of emotion and some disappointment because she knew she had not been selected at that point. But to our amazement (although not our surprise), Amy was as gracious and poised as ever. In fact, as we were awaiting the president’s official announcement, Amy asked me about my mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and how my father was holding up.
Her humility and compassion spoke volumes. At that moment, after just missing a nomination to the Supreme Court, you’d think she’d be focused on herself, but no: Amy was focused on others. I have no doubt that will remain true once she joins the Supreme Court.
Amy was and is an inspiration for me as a mother, a wife, and a friend. I call her “Amy,” my children call her “Mrs. Barrett,” and the larger community calls her “Professor” and “Judge Barrett.”
Now we all look forward to calling her Justice Barrett.