Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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 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. I've read this before and love it. it sure is poignant. and the part I love best about it is "and Holland has tulips, and windmills." there are beauty and love no matter what one's circumstances. bless you.

  2. I love this applies to so many of life's journies....Marco and I talk of Avi lots. Since he is in kindergarten he doesn't go to the gym very often but when we are there he asks about her. I showed him some of the pics you have posted and he said she looks fine...she should just come to the gym and play!!
    I know we were never close but since the day I heard I have followed your blog and prayed for Avi. Thank you for all of the updates Jen...take care...

  3. Beautiful. Jen, you are an amazing person and mother. I know you are in Holland and see all the great things there.

  4. Tulips are my favorite! I hope that you can enjoy them to their fullest someday soon!


  5. What a beautiful quote! I had not read it before but it is really touching. Holland has tulips and clogs! Who doesn't love either of these? :-) Hugs,

  6. That's probably one of the most awesome ways to describe it that I've ever heard. Truly inspired and enlightening! Sounds like this child was absolutely meant for you because God knew just who was right for the job-YOU! Prayers for you and your family.
    Cameo's Aunt Lori