Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Welcome to Holland

This is by far my favorite story of all time. Thanks 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 guidebooks 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 guidebooks. 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 -placed 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 Rembrants.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time thay 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 go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.


the MomBabe said...

I LOVE this story. Every time I hear it, it makes me cry.

Bloggin It said...

You do a GREAT job navigating in Holland my dear! You are an awesome mom! We are all VERY lucky to have ALL your babies in our lives. :) Love you guys!

Stuart and Jacqui Avery said...

I've heard that story a few times from you and every time it makes me cry. I second Tiff's comment. You are amazing, and of course you know I love your kids more than anything!

Skousen Seven said...

Hi, Tenille! I found your blog on Ashley's. I haven't seen you forever it seems! You look terrific and your kids are so adorable. I didn't know of the struggles you have, but you are one awesome mom from my point of view. I loved the little story you put up. Hang in there. Come over to my
Love to hear from you
Your cousin Wendy

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing that. If it's alright, I'd like to share it with some of the friends in my circle of friends as we all deal with this. I think you are amazing, too. My friends who have children with these challenges all do a much better job, and are so much stronger than I am with my small challenges. I admire you because you keep on going.