I was speaking to a friend today during the kick off for the Walk for Autism Speaks today. She told me she found what she wanted to write her book about and it was in regards to the blog our group had started. As I looked at her notes it came to me she needs to read "Welcome to Holland". I could see in her face that she was never prepared for this journey, of course none of us in our group were. We had our expectations all laid out in our minds the moment we found out we were expect. I stopped her in mid thought and asked if she had read it. A bewildered look came across her face and I knew she had not. I summed it up to her and she seemed to grasped the gist of the meaning behind it. I remember my dear friend Lisa posting it on my wall a few months after we began this journey and it all resignated with me and opened up my eyes in ways I never thought possible.
A few weeks ago when I created this group I knew how I wanted to preface my portion of the blog. I love reading "Welcome to Holland" because it reminds me to much of exactly how I felt when we started out. While "Holland" was not my destination when I became a mother to Hunter, I have to say it's not that bad. Once you reach the stage of acceptance you learn to make the most of it and the situation is what you make of it. So with out further ado........
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
by Emily Perl Kingsley. ©1987 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.