When you become a parent of a special needs child, everyone talks about "Welcome to Holland". I assumed that everyone knew what it was (I read it many years before Maya), but when I mentioned it to Dave a few weeks ago he had never seen it. Here you go:
WELCOME 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.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
My two cents:
1. Good, right? My favorite part is the bit about other people going and coming from Italy. I love "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." Yesterday a Facebook friend posted "*Name of child* just walked across the living room." Now, it's not that I want to go knock other people's kids down or anything, but . . . some days it's no sweat to toss out a "hooray!" . . . some days it would get a sigh and walking away from the computer. Some days a few tears. Luckily, those days are the least common. (And that doesn't mean that you should keep your kids' amazing things from me---please, let me know their newest tricks, I really do care and want to be a supportive friend/family member. It's just that sometimes they sting a little.)
2. Do you think that the nation of Holland collectively read this and said "Did this lady just call us slow?" Clearly, they're the "special" kid in this analogy. She calls them slower paced, and the best compliment she can offer is that they have windmills? Do you think that they're bothered that "Welcome to Holland" now is a euphemism for "Now that you're in the special needs world . . ."? I picture some happy couple, tulips on their table, wearing their wooden shoes, reading this in a newspaper when it first came out . . . nodding, nodding . . . and they they would look up and go "wait---what, now?"
Anyway, we have a lot going on over here. A few ideas in the works, but none ready for public discussion yet.
As a side note, Dave thinks more people should comment on the blog. He says that he likes to log in and view the comments, because he wonders who is out there. There must be a good handful of you readers, because the ticker keeps going up, up, up (and I think my mom only view the page like 27 times a day). So whenever you have the urge to comment, just got right ahead :)