Monday, May 5

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.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're 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 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.

Spencer stayed home from daycare with John today. Here he is trying to call me for some backup. "Mommy, dad won't let me run around the house naked with the cheese grater. Will you come home and blog so I can try to sneak and do this?"

"Fine then, I am calling Grandma!"


mom said...

Unbelievably beautiful story! You have such a talent with words and thoughts. So proud of you.

Tanya said...

Awww, that is such a neat way of looking at it! I love that.

Sheri said...

Kind of happy and sad at the same time but so true...

Thanks mom! :)

John said...

There is not a day goes by that I don't see a Mom in her finest hour raising this child. Sheri you are an inspiration to all Mom's around the world in showing genuine dedication and heartfelt care to a "Little Man" who has taught us all. I can't think of a better person God could have given Spencer, not to mention a better person to call.... Mommy.

Through the eyes of someone that sees this first hand and is privileged to be in Spencer's life.

You are both loved beyond words....

Sheri said...

Well if that just doesn't make me weepy. Thank you so much! I may be bossy but I mean well! LOL!