How do I put into words what this weekend means each year? It seems like I go to write this post and never know how to start or what to even say because I am speechless. To start, look at this...
Do yall get this?! There were 26 states represented. 4 countries and she confirmed that there were over 700 people at this conference. What amazing thing for not only Molly (the organization leader) but for all the families and people who attended! 700 people that you can relate to in one way or another. 700 people that have a limb difference or a family member who does. 700 people who flew from all over to be here this weekend. Now you know why I have a hard time putting into words how incredible this weekend is for us.
This year I decided to take my youngest with me; I thought it would be great for him to see that his brother wasn't alone in the world with a limb difference, that there are other people out there who have a lucky fin too! Well we had a blast getting to Michigan because the boys were excited. We at one point had to sprint all the way across the airport to make a connecting flight so picture this. I have my 4-year-old in a carrier on my back, my big carryon bag on my shoulder and carrying my 4-year old's backpack. Then my lucky fin is trying to run next to us, but his backpack is weighing him down, so I take that and we all take off together. I'm sure it was a site to see and holy cow was I exhausted when we got to that gate! But we made it just in time! We then got to our destination where our other lucky fin family picked us up and we took off to the hotel!
This weekend was the same set up as last year, so it was nice since we had done it all before. We saw some old friends that we had met and of course made new ones. The kids were super happy to be able to run around after being confined to airplanes and cars all day but we for sure passed out early that night because we were all so tired.
The next day is the big main event day at the park. It's so nice to be surrounded by so many amazing families and share stories. We watched as the kids played and all swapped the typical questions; "Did you know before your child was born?" "How did you react?" "Have they had to have surgeries yet?"
As I type these out I realize that they are not typical questions you ask other parents in a play group, but at this weekend, it's safe and comforting to know, as a mom, I'm not alone and these questions are normal. That other moms and dads out there understand what it was like to not know before your child was born. To understand that terrifying feeling of your 8-month-old going into surgery for the first time. To know that other parents have felt the same way is something I am forever grateful for with the Lucky Fin Project organization.
One of the best parts is to see your kid playing with other kids that are just like him. To see the light bulb go off in his head knowing that he isn't alone in this world, that he might be the only one in his school or that he plays with but that he isn't alone. If there is one thing I hope he takes away from these weekends is that he isn't alone and luckily I think he is already learning that.
So after a full day at the park of playing, seeing police dog demonstrations, firetrucks, making crafts, eating BBQ and having a great day we went back to the hotel for a much needed nap before the night festivities began! Every year Tony Memmel, a one-handed guitarist, plays a concert that the kids love and we as parents get to sit back and watch them sing and dance and be in awe of how he plays.
Once the concert is done we have the luxury of talking to all the other parents some more as it is our final night. The kids continue to run around (how they still have energy I will never know!) but it is such a fun and safe environment that you can't help but enjoy. We got to meet some amazing people from the Florida Lucky Fin chapter so that will be nice as we go through the year to have meet ups and keep up with our Florida Lucky Fin family.
To say that I am grateful for Molly and the organization she has created would be an understatement. She has helped me as a mom realize that it's ok to have questions and to be scared. And she has given me a community of other parents to be able to talk to and rely on when I feel like no one else gets it. But more importantly she has given my son a community. I realized this last year but now that we are another year in and another year older I was really able to see him make friends and grow friendships from last year and it made me realize it's all going to be ok. She has provided a community that we will always have and that will just continue to grow. We have started the countdown already for when we will be going again next year!
Thank you Molly and Ryan! We love you guys!
Not on purpose at all but the boys matched and the girls matched and then moms matched with our hats!
When you think you're cool because you got your mom's sunglasses
The three amigos
Have a Blessed day!