"My partner and I got a tattoo to honour our son. My mother-in-law wants the same one."

When Katherine* and her husband chose to get the Lucky Few tattoo to celebrate their son, they thought it would be a deeply personal experience for the two of them.

The Lucky Few tattoo – which comprises of three arrows stacked on top of one another – is inspired by the book The Lucky Few: Finding God’s Best in the Most Unlikely Places, about a mother who adopted three children, two of whom have Down syndrome.

For many mums, the three arrows are a powerful symbol of the genetic condition, also known as trisomy 21, because people with Down syndrome have three copies of their 21st chromosome, instead of two.

The concept recently went viral, with people on social media sharing photos of their tattoo and the story behind it.

Ahhh!!! Got my first tattoo EVER ???????????? This little thing means so much to me for mannnyy different reasons. I’ve been thinking about this bad boy for a longgg time now. I stumbled upon it bc a fellow coach that I look up to and inspires me very much has it and I thought it was the cutest thing EVER since my first time seeing it. That was just the start though. After looking more into it, I found out that it means both, “Create your own reality,” and, “Keep moving forward,” which only made me want it even more bc those are currently my life mottos!???????? But still, I waited and waited, bc ya know, committing to a tattoo, especially a #fingertat is KINDAA a big deal. ????????????????‍♀️???? And then randomly one day the stars aligned. Out of the blue my mom texted me a picture of this same symbol and asked if I wanted to get this tattoo with her (we had been thinking about getting one together, but hadn’t decided on what yet). Completely shocked and taken back, I asked her if she was joking ? I didn’t think I had told her about it, but maybe I had (I mean I had been thinking about it for almost a year now, it was possible ????????‍♀️????). NOPE! She had no clue what I was talking about. ???????????? So I asked her if she knew what it meant, in which she told me to look up #theluckyfewtattoo and GUYS…I was taken back. ???????? This tattoo that I had been thinking about for almost a year now….these three arrows.. symbolize the triplication of the 21st chromosome. It represents unity and courage and the thought that you have to be stretched to move forward. The arrows pointing outward from the body represent always moving onward and upward in our life. THE UNIVERSE HAD SPOKEN. I knew right there in that moment that I HADDD to get it. Exactly 3 weeks later, here I am. I get to represent my favorite PERFECT human being on the planet, and I couldn’t be prouder. ???? Now I’ll get to think about him every time I look down. It will remind me to be brave, happy, and to embrace everything that comes my way, and of course of his precious smiling face that I miss EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. ????????☺️???? Sissy loves you so much Laddy. Forever, your biggest advocate. ???????? #t21 #theluckyfew #downsyndrome

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With her son about to turn 21, Katherine and her husband wanted to celebrate their time of “parenting a pretty awesome human”.

“[The tattoo] really appealed to me in its simplicity but powerful meaning as I indeed do feel lucky to be part of this amazing community of families living with Down syndrome,” she told Mamamia.


A few months later, however, Katherine received a message from her mother-in-law, Marie*, saying she was planning on getting the same tattoo.

While Katherine’s husband tried to explain that the tattoo was meant to be “something special” between the two of them, Marie insisted that it would be her way of honouring her special grandson.

Surprised by her own reaction, Katherine told Mamamia that “rather than seeing it as a sign of support, I feel like she hasn’t put in the ‘work’ to deserve the tattoo”.

“I don’t know if that’s just selfish on my part,” she said, “but I that’s how I feel.”

Listen to Vanessa Cranfield’s raw description of raising her daughter Gretel, who has Down syndrome, on No Filter. Post continues after audio. 

According to Katherine, Marie lives in a different state, and doesn’t contact her grandson often. She originally contacted Mamamia asking for advice about what she should do, and to ask whether there’s any point trying to talk her mother-in-law out of her decision.

While some were adamant that Katherine can’t change her mother-in-law’s actions, one reader had a very creative idea: “If she gets the tattoo, as much as I’d be annoyed too, in the long run it’s not worth the angst. After she gets it, go with your husband and just add another simple touch, to make yours different but links you as parents and never mention it.”

Others suggested the parents encourage Marie to look for another tattoo style to honour her grandson. “Maybe to keep yours special and distinct, you could send her some really pretty ‘grandparent’ variations of the tattoo?” said one reader.

In a post on The Mighty, people whose lives have been touched with Down syndrome shared a number of ideas for how their experience could be expressed.

One person, named George K, said, “My son Luka born with Down syndrome on 9/14/12. Down syndrome is three copies of your 21st chromosome, or Trisomy 21. ‘Omne trium perfection’ means all things that come in threes are perfect.”


Another popular symbol is the Down syndrome ribbon, used to raise awareness for the genetic condition.

What advice would you give to Katherine? Should she let her mother-in-law get the Lucky Few tattoo? Or encourage her to choose something different?

*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.