Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to Holland

A high school classmate of mine has a child with very severe disabilities.  She shares her experiences on her blog and this has opened my eyes to many of the trials and joys of raising a child with disabilities.  One of the first things I read on her blog was this:

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.

I think that this not only applies to parents, but to anyone who has had to change their plans because of any type of hardship (think of Kevin Ware).  We either spend our time mourning the fact that our life isn't what we had hoped, or we make the most of it.  Even more however, if we can educate those in our lives as to why we are happy and let them know that we have adjusted, then maybe perhaps more people will be happy in Holland.


  1. I think that is very inspirational. The only person I can think about after reading that is my mom. She does a lot for us even though she has a lot of diseases like Muscular Dystrophy, Schordrins, Auto-Immune Hepatitis and some others that I don't know how to spell.. but she always does everything she can and goes to all of our events like track meets and choir concerts. She is an amazing mom and I love her.

  2. This is very inspirational i loved reading this. I agree with Mr. Sharp its what we make of it. I have more than one way to connect to this. When things don't go right you can't just be upset and never go on you have to make the best of it.I have family members with diseases and we know its a matter of time but we have to make the best of it. Not only diseases accidents and losing a loved one.

  3. I really like how she put this in context. It really opens your eyes too see what its really like, and how its not that big of a deal, because they are special too, and it reminds us to make the most of every moment and every situation.

  4. I really thought this is something we could all think about and all learn from. Everyone should make the most out of every moment. You can't just sit around and do nothing because thats not going to help. We all need to to just get up and do something.

  5. It just goes to show that there is potential and beauty no matter where you go, you just need to know where to look. We all have our perks, children with disabilities may have more severe ones, buts what should push you in the end.

  6. I think that this is a great example to show that life is a beautiful thing, no matter what life it may be. It may not be what you expected at first, but when you really look at it you really notice it. Live for today or for the moment, and make the most of it. Also, if you don't stop or slow down in life sometimes, you're gonna miss it because it goes fast.

  7. Interestingly enough, she has since taken this down. I think that this is a great thing for people who are just discovering that their lives are not what they had planned. However, it maybe doesn't address just how difficult life can be and how to cope with it. I have read some other interesting posts about what life with a child with disabilities is like - Google it and you might just get your eyes opened.

  8. I like this because it shows us that our plans can change in just minutes and we could end up having to get used to something new instead of just having everything go how we want it to go.

  9. I agree with this because I have a little brother that is sensory and we didn't know he was like this until he was in about kindergarten or first grade. We thought he was always going to be happy go lucky and cheerful. He changed in the course of a year. He went from constantly happy to very rarely happy. Now he gets upset quite often over little things. This just goes to show that a kids life can change in a course of only a few months.


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