Welcome to Holland
by Emily Pearl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability to try to help people who have no shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. Its like this...
When you're going to have a baby, its like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, Michelangelo's David, the gondolas in Venice. You learn some handy phrases in Italian. Its all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plan lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?" you say, "What do you mean Holland? I singed up for Italy. I'm suppose to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in flight plan. They've landed in Holland, and there you must stay.
The most important thin is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. Its just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole group of people you would have never met.
Its just a different place. Its slower placed than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for awhile and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland 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."
The pain of that will never, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a 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.
So I don't agree 100% with her end, because I think the pain can go away. I think the joy that any child can bring a parent can out weight any "Why me?" thoughts. I love the illustration this story paints. Life might go the way you plan, but take a second look around and see the beauty in Holland.
Tulip festival in WA when I was pregnant with Lil Miss