August 5, 2012

Welcome to Holland

A good friend of mine, with special needs kids of her own, sent this to me some months ago. It bubbled back up to the surface of my mind this week, so I thought I'd share it with you.
Welcome to Holland
by 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 guidebooks 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 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 guidebooks. 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.

Reprinted with permission from Emily Perl Kinglsey. 1987 copyright by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.


Mama Sue said...

This was so appropriately put. It sounds just like you and your life right now. I am meditating on it as it touched me deeply. Thank you.
Love, Mom said...

Hi Nicole! I am wanting to print "Welcome to Holland" in my book. Could you tell me how to obtain permission?

Nicole said...


Hi! Thanks for stopping by! Unfortunately, I have no idea how you could obtain permission. Can you google the author's name? That's where I'd start. Sorry I can't be more help. What is your book about?

Deana said...

I am sorry I didn't answer you earlier, Nicole. The book I am publishing is about helping the church embrace the special needs community. It is about my husband's and my journey in starting a special needs ministry and the challenges and the blessings.