Sunday, February 27, 2011

Welcome to Holland

When I was cleaning out our garage, I came across an article called "Welcome to Holland," that we read in grad school.  It's a really touching article written by Emily Perl Kingsley about raising a child with a disability.

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

When you are going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip- to Italy.  You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.  You pack your bags and off you go.  Several hours later, the plane lands.  The flight attendant 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 plans.  You've landed in Holland and must stay.

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

So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks.  And you meet a new group of people you would never have met in Italy.

After you've been there awhile and catch your breath, 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, I was supposed to go.  That's what I had planned."

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

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

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