Saturday, August 30, 2008

Welcome to Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

windmillsWhen you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. Michelangelo's David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

RembrandtSo you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills... and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

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Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

What a beau-t-ful analogy!

Thank you for sharing, and giving us a glimpse into your precious experiences.

And thanks for stopping by and saying hello to's nice to meet you! Your blog space is beautiful, too!

Totallyscrappy said...

A wonderful post. May you enjoy all the great things Holland has to offer.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome, wani. What a brilliant way to help people understand this situation!

My ancestors are from Holland so I think it's a pretty hot place!!!


Toni said...

This was shared with me from an adoption perspective when we were in the rough spots early on. Isn't it such a beautiful point of view?

Crown of Beauty said...

Hi Wani, I landed on your blog while searching for a picture on google. Wow, you do have a beautiful website, even though I have read just a few posts. Will surely come back for more one of these days. I loved this analogy --it's so true! I'd like to put a link to it on my blog. Come visit my blog some time.

mamachristina said...

what a great way of bringing out this awesome point.