My Grandmother is a well traveled woman. She has been all over the world, especially Europe. Growing up I would flip through her photo albums and one in particular were photos of her and a girlfriend visiting in Holland. She would say to me that of all the places in the world, Holland was her favorite. It was surprising to her, because Holland wasn't exactly at the top of her list.
But once being there, she had already made up her mind she would visit again, and I believe she did! So imagine my surprise as I read the following story. A friend of mine had posted it on Facebook, and while reading it, my eyes welled. You ever have those moments where things start to weave into each other? Maybe it comes with getting older and seeing things differently... but lately I have been having a lot more moments like these. This story is the absolute best metaphor for explaining what its like to raise a child with special needs. And now, more than ever, do I want to actually visit Holland.
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 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.
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.
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