Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Welcome To Holland

In grad school our professors bombarded us with all kinds of readings, not just on theories and treatment plans, but with essays to try and help us understand the impact of what having a child with special needs means or at least empathize with the families that we would one day be working with. "Welcome To Holland" was one of those essays. Since I had Sam I have come into contact with many other families who have children with special needs and this same essay continues to cross my path. I have been reluctant to read it again because the certainty of it scares me. To be honest it scared me when we were first presented with it in grad school and the thought of having my own children wasn't even in my mind yet. But now as I read it again I am not so scared. The essay came across my path one more time just recently and was sent to me by a very special mom.

byEmily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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 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.


Anonymous said...

Italy is overrated anyway. I have been there many times. Holland has a lot to offer and I am happy to be there with you.

Love you both very much with all my heart.

Husband and Dad

jch said...

Holy Cow! That's powerful. I may steal this from you, Carrie.

Thanks for coming over on Saturday. Laura and I can't quit talking about how helpful it was. Seriously, you guys rocked our a very, very good way!

Carrie said...

No problem, I stole your last blog. Besides I got this from Barbara. Its a good piece. And its always a pleasure to come over. I love seeing you guys. :)

Anonymous said...

Carrie & Scott dearest couple. I can't stop getting excited from the words your sharing with us.This Holland trip will benefit you so much when you eventually get to Italy.
We Love you all.

Anonymous said...

What an eloquent way to express to the world how you feel about our darling Sam.
He has brought so much love and light to my life.
I love you and Scott very much.

Anonymous said...

Im sitting at my desk crying, not at only at what you wrote, but at what your other half had to say. I always had great respect for him, now I know why. You guys are great.
Love ya.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Holland.

Anonymous said...

Holland, Italy, France where ever you go where
there... give smeckel a kiss.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with what everyone else has to say! I am overwhelmed by the concept of Holland but you guys have embraced a life in a wonderful new world and taught us all to admire the beauty and learn the customs!

For this and much more I applaud you