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January 27, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — katy @ 6:22 pm


                                     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.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved


12 Responses to “”

  1. Mary Beth Says:

    And clogs, and those funny flying nun hats, and tons of bridges and everyone speaks at least 7 languages…Hang in there, Katy!

  2. margene Says:

    You’re my hero, grrl. Never, never give up. Hugs.

  3. Colleen Says:

    You know, there’s been so much talk on the blogs lately about special needs kids, that this essay has been on my mind. I read it so long ago that I thought that no one else could possible remember the same one. Funny.

  4. Jean Says:

    That is awesome! We had a two-year layover before we landed in Holland! 😉 Love the way that’s written. It’s a great way to put it.

  5. Emma. Says:

    Well,yes and no ! I think that may help those that who do not have special needs children to have a better understanding.I’ve never viewed my son’s special needs as a tragedy.Who is ‘perfect’ anyway ? My sadnesses all relate to others perception of him.Others prejudices.
    Surely every child is an undiscovered country ?

  6. Jo Says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m in a different place, my dreams for my kid got dashed when the finish line was nearly in sight. No matter when it happens, it is really tough.

  7. Susan Says:

    Thank you so much.

  8. Kerstin Says:

    At least you can say “dam” in Holland and no one will accuse you of swearing. 🙂

  9. Rossana Says:

    Thank you for sharing this lovely story with us. It really helps shed light. I hope you and yours enjoy a happy weekend! Yay for super moms!

  10. Laurie Says:

    Someone gave me this early on in our William journey and I’ve always remembered the solid, pragmatic perspective of this charming story. Thanks for posting it, Katy.

  11. Orli Says:

    Oh wow! That’s amazing. Also keep in mind that in Holland you can go see the Vincent Van Gouch museum. No one from Italy, can say that.
    You hang in there…

  12. Susan Says:

    I have never read that before, and it appeared on your blog at just the right time. Last night I was checking the progress on the three teeth my son is cutting now and his two front teeth on top have split far apart. Although his palate was intact, he does have a notch in his alveolar ridge, so we’ve known that his top teeth would be “different” in some way, and that he would need braces on his permanent teeth. I was okay with that because no child has a guarantee of no orthodontic work. However, the baby teeth look like they are going to be extremely out of whack, and I find myself having to adjust my expectations and hope for the best. If one of the front teeth keeps going the way it is moving, then he may need dental intervention now. It’s all just rolling with the punches. . .

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