Embracing Holland

27 Aug
photo by Claudio.Ar

I came across this phenomenal story in a post at Today You Are You.  I had heard the story before, but had forgotten it somewhere along the way.  It does a wonderful job explaining what it’s like to raise a child with special needs.  Thanks for reminding me, Jen.


Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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.

The analogy (in my opinion) is perfect.  I have found so many beautiful, priceless things in Holland that I can’t even imagine a world that wouldn’t have included my stop here.


Posted by on August 27, 2009 in Jenna, Special Needs


8 responses to “Embracing Holland

  1. MiaHysteria

    August 27, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Glad for your post. I too have read this before, but it’s always worth the re-read. Thank you.

  2. Heather

    August 27, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I love this…and while Holland was definitely not what I thought it was going to be, I’m learning that it’s starting to feel like home. 😉

  3. Andrea's Sweet Lifé

    August 27, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I’ve never read that before, and I am so glad you posted it. What a wonderful analogy.

  4. Maura ~ @MoBurns67

    August 28, 2009 at 4:37 am

    That is very lovely. 🙂

  5. MommyGeekology

    August 28, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    What a wonderful analogy. So glad that you posted it.

  6. nap warden

    September 4, 2009 at 1:57 am

    Great story…I love the picture as well:)

  7. Maryam in Marrakech

    September 22, 2009 at 2:50 am

    So enlightening. Really helpful. Thank you.

  8. Kelly

    October 3, 2009 at 1:42 am

    I’ve never read that before, and it made me teary. I’ve often wished I could explain what life is like (versus what I thought it was going to be like) with my awesome kiddo — and now I can, simply by pointing them here.


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