Friday, September 30, 2011

Welcome to Holland

This little story was written by Emily Perl Kingsley, who has been writing for Sesame Street since 1970, and has a son with Down Syndrome.  Another mom of a kid who has survived the same tumor as Scarlett shared this, and I feel like it so accurately describes the feelings I share with so many moms of special needs kids.

Welcome to Holland 
by Emily Perl Kinglsey

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...

When 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. The Michelangelo 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.

So you must go 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...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 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.

I really wanted Italy, but I am learning to love my life in Holland.

Borrowed from the National Down Syndrome Congress, and thanks to Anne, George's mom, for sharing. 


Robin said...

Such a true thought. I know you were planning Italy, but praise God for Holland! Your family is always on my mind...praying for your little Scarlett always!

vlh1187 said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this, I first read this a few months ago, and love it more and more each time I see it pop up.

LC said...

Holland's not so bad. It's better than never going anywhere at all. When my son was sick, I read this and it helped a lot. Glad to see it's reached you, too.

JustJackie26 said...

This is just amazing. It brought tears to my eyes reading this, as it is the first time I have seen it, I love it! Scarlett is always in my family's prayers.

Sara said...

Though I am not a parent yet, I grew up with a sister with special needs. What a great analogy to describe the loss and joys of parenting a special needs child, and also being a sibling of one.

Kelli said...

This is a beautiful analogy. I think it applies to anyone diagnosed with any illness, disease, or disorder. Sure, you didn't get the life you had planned, but who really does? You learn to find the beauty in every day. In a way, it's a blessing.... because we rush by so many moments without even looking. Your daughter always inspires me.

Prayers as always from the October 2010 board. I've been following you guys since day 1. Send Scarlett early birthday hugs and kisses!

Anonymous said...

Love this. So much. GO HOLLAND!