So Kidd’s Kids 2013 is winding down. And just like last year and the year before that and the year before that, we always seem to say, “THIS was the best Kidd’s Kids trip EVER!” We’re all just riding on a high of mixed emotions — love, gratitude, sadness, fatigue….It’s overwhelming sometimes. You wonder how long these feelings are going to stick with you because quicker than we like, we have to go back to the real world, which is filled with all our obligations and aggravations. Gradually, those warm, fuzzy feelings get pushed way down below the surface, but my goal this year is to keep those feelings bubbling right up there on the surface. And I think this time, it’s going to be pretty easy.

kellie-with-familyI am humbled by the single moms we’ve brought on the trip this year. To hear their stories of being abandoned by the man they thought they knew and loved, who ended up being a man who couldn’t handle being attached to a child who was less than perfect in their eyes…to hear about juggling part-time jobs and trying to schedule child-care for their healthy kids while they go off to states half-a-country away for their Kidd’s Kid to have a life-changing or life-saving surgery, but then turning to friends and family members for help only to be told they’re far too busy to help this time. “But maybe next time….” And they don’t tell these stories with any sense of “Pity me! Feel sorry for me!” It’s more like, “This was the hand I was dealt, and I’m doing the best I can.”

To see a grandmother take full custody of her grandchildren…to see an aunt take full-custody of her nephew…and to see them do it with joy despite the sacrifice. How can you not be humbled when you meet these people and hear these stories???

So the next time Emma Kelly is telling me I’m the worst mommy ever because she has to turn off the TV and take a bath, I’m just going to remember how thankful I am to have an aggravating child who is completely healthy, minus an extreme case of clumsiness. And I’m also beyond grateful to be surrounded by friends and family who are ready to help me at a moment’s notice, no matter how much it inconveniences their schedules.

And I also want the world to know how much I missed Psycho Shanon!!!! She’s always been my running buddy on Kidd’s Kids trips. She’s always there to make sure I make the most of the experiences with these kids and that those moments are captured so we can share them with you on the radio. And while I still had some incredible moments, it was nowhere near the same without my Shanon.

And of course, how can I explain how different it was without Kidd being here. Our first Kidd’s Kids trip without him….bittersweet is the only word that comes to mind, but it doesn’t seem sufficient. I need somebody to come up with one word that we could use for “overwhelmingly heart-breaking and yet still beautiful.”  And it has been beautiful, especially seeing Kidd’s daughter Caroline taking on her father’s charity as her own — just like he said he wanted. And I’ve known this girl since she was FOUR! How is it even possible to turn around and see that there’s this full-grown WOMAN standing in front of me?? To lose her father and then, less than less than four months later, come on this Kidd’s Kids trip and focus more on the children rather than her loss — it was a beautiful thing. Caroline has done her daddy proud. And I hope we have, too.

Can’t wait to do it again in 2014!