Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Welcome to Holland

I have heard parents of special needs kids talk about being in Holland.  And, while my guys aren't special needs in the classical sense . . . well, maybe they are??  Sean is delayed, but the expectation is that he will catch up - or he might not.  But, then again, both have a possibility of having CP.  Oh, wow. (I need a moment.  Okay, back on point.)  I didn't know what these parents were referring to when they spoke of Holland.  So, I googled it.  And, now, I know.  I, too, have been diverted to Holland . . .


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.


  1. What a beautiful way to describe the journey.

  2. My sister in law and I were discussing this all week. I don't even know if you know about Katie and all the knowledge she has brought into my life. My sil has two sons with challenges as well. I CAN tell you in this case that the road less travelled is a very beautiful and scenic road. Quickly I learned that what I had envisioned in raising children was going to have to be scrapped. I did. Then, I embraced the journey. It's been 17 years of great pain, great successes, great joy and a LOT of hurt feelings. Though this, I have learned that it seems like MOST parents with children who have more than their fair share of challenges seem to enjoy the journey so much more than MOST (note: I realize this is generalizations) who do not. We tend to celebrate the smallest successes and see the beauty through the eyes of the children much easier and at a much greater frequency. By scrapping all expectations and rolling with what happens as it happens, we are getting the greatest gift of all....enjoying each moment with our children. (yep, I've found a reason to smile as I'm bawling my eyes out or screaming my favorite words at the top of my lungs). Cuda - you were chosen for these children, and they were chosen for you. I'm so glad you are embracing your trip in Holland. Aren't the tulips BEAUTIFUL?!?

  3. I think Holland is a GREAT place to be.