Welcome to Holland?!


After reading my blog post yesterday, I received a response from a lovely woman who follows my blog, mamajoyx9 at Words of His Heart, to read a poem that she used to help process in her own personal journey of acceptance in raising a beautifully atypical child. Her son, Noah, has down syndrome and struggles with communication in similar ways as Jp. She always posts wonderful visual learning aids and is a fantastic person to follow for all of my fellow mothers out there that struggle with communication with their children. Thank you for sharing, mamajoy!


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 reason that I find this piece so beautiful and spot-on is that the metaphor explains so perfectly how the feelings that accompany raising children with difficulties is a shock at first but in the end of the journey you learn that it really is just a new adventure. If you spend too much time wallowing in the loss of your original ‘plans’ then you will never truly see the beauty in the destination.

Isn’t that the way life always works, though? We make these elaborate plans, we have all of these ideals of the way things will work out…but that is rarely the way things come to be. The adventure in life itself is finding the beauty in each unplanned turn. In finding a new piece of yourself, of what you are made of, each time life hands you what you thought was a “lemon” but now have the most amazing lemonade.

I may have thought I was going to Italy…but I have to say, I am ecstatic to be in Holland. Because Holland is where the heart is. 🙂

Childhood Development Parenting Parenting and Childhood Development


Amber Perea View All →

I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. You are so highly evolved! It took me at least a year to accept that we were “in Holland!” The day Finn was diagnosed, I reached out to an Autism support group and the president told me about that poem. I read it and was like, “that’s nice, but I’m still on my way to Italy.” Man, did I have a lot to learn! Thankfully, almost two years later, I am happily in Holland and blogging about my travels (and meeting fellow travelers like you!)

    • Awe, thank you! The truth is though that I am just used to life. I almost NEVER get what I “expect” in life. I am always overly crushed, raging against the heavens (metaphorically speaking, of course) and then it always turns out better than my original plans. Every time.

      So when Jp’s issues came up, I was angry and frustrated at first but I just remembered that each and every time I was “disappointed” by life’s twists and turns it ended up in a much better place for me. I never make it to Italy and I always love Holland so it wasn’t as long of a process for me this go round. 🙂

      No matter the time frame, you made it to Holland and that is all that matters in this world. Finn is lucky to have you on his team!

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