Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Welcome to Holland


Emily Perl Kingsley.

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.


This always makes me sad.  I am torn between being in "Holland" and being in "Italy" with my two kids.  I have met some phenomenal people in Holland and they are people who have given me strength, hope, and love.  They are people who have become good friends, have shown me support, and have been there to say "I know what you're going through" and "This totally sucks".  Sometimes I wish that I never had to deal with being in Holland, and that both of my kids were Italy, but then I think about all the amazing experiences I've had, all of the amazing people I've come in contact with, and all of the growing I've done, and then I realize how much I love Nate even if he is "Holland" instead of "Italy".


  1. I how I love you. This was beautiful.

  2. The world is more a beautiful place with a little Holland, Iceland, Argentina, and Kenya mixed in with the Italy's. It would be soo boring to only be in Italy. And Holland makes such funny jokes about Kenya. :) (Not that I don't love Italy equally other little man with the mad slam dunking skills :) )

  3. That was expressed very well Adrianne.

  4. Arianna Torrado-ChurchFebruary 7, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    Nice analogy to discribe the situation. Really explains it well to us on the outside. You are a good mom....no matter how much you scream. Xoxoxo