A Little Something Extra

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

31 for 21... Holland is a pretty cool place

Have you read the short story, "Welcome to Holland," by Emily Perl Kingsley?  She wrote it in 1987.  She has a son with Down syndrome.  And she's a writer for Sesame Street.  I cried and cried when I first read this story when I was pregnant with Micah.


by Emily 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.

My only "beef" with the story now is the second to last line: "And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss."  No, the pain might not ever go away.  But it definitely doesn't hurt as much anymore.  My latest inspiration from it is this: wouldn't it be great to give tulips to anyone you know who has found out that their child has "special needs?"  Okay, more on THAT later too... don't we ALL have special needs?


Andrea @ Unfailingly Loved said...

I've always loved this story, too. It helps to give me balance, not only in having a child with special needs, but also in the other circumstances that the Lord allows in our lives to grow us and change us -- things that we would often not ask for, but in hindsight, can see the great value in. Have a blessed day, my friend.

my family said...

i love this too

Dana said...

What perfect timing for me to come across your post on Welcome To Holland! On Tuesday, I posted a different take on it, called Amsterdam International---it deals more with the feelings that parents of special needs children go through during that initial landing in Holland. Please feel free to blog about it, Facebook it, pass it along, contact me, etc. I want it to reach as many parents as possible!


Emily said...

Love this too! I might have to post this sometime this month!