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Ever been to Holland?

This past weekend, Janey Bug and Baby Jude got to meet some of my oldest and dearest gal pals at a late afternoon get-together. It was fantastic to catch up with ladies who I have known 25 years (EEKS!) or so.

Wee ones running amuck, pizza fresh from the oven, chit chat, amazing spread of grown-up food, beautiful weather, laughter, hugs … a perfect kind of evening.

Jane and Jude were a hit. Jane proudly showed off her glasses and the necklace she made in vacation bible school. Jude was his charming, shy self, superglued to my hip. As a side note, by the time he actually walks, I may be the one in physical therapy.

I chatted with an old friend, Patti. She reads this blog and Facebook, so she was pretty familiar with my kiddos and what I have “put out there.” Once I filled her in on the latest and greatest with Baby Jude, she asked how I am doing. I don’t get asked that a whole lot. And I don’t even think about it really.

The question kind of caught me off guard, in a good way. I think she could tell that I didn’t have an answer. Then Patti shared with me a few bits of the poem below:


Welcome to Holland
by 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 past 18 months have been a whirlwind of unexpected changes. Our trip has taken me to ”Holland” – It’s not where I planned to be, but it’s where I am happy. Not quite the day to day activities I anticipated, but I am determined to check off each task by the day’s end.

Not quite the sight-seeing that a trip to Italy might offer, but seeing the world through Baby Jude’s developing eyes is breathtaking.

So, all in all, Holland isn’t Italy. It never will be and it shouldn’t be. Holland is perfect. And, to answer the question of how I am doing? I am perfectly fulfilled, blessed and grateful to get to live in “Holland.”

Grateful, Prayerful & Hopeful.

Read more about Baby Jude and Jane from the rest of Sarah’s blog, Hey Jude!.

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  1. dhardman1@neo.rr.com' Patti Hardman says:

    Love that you loved the poem. Great catching up, and I am so glad to see that you are so happy in Holland. xoxo

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