Friday, October 10, 2008

Welcome to Holland

I read this tonight. I had read it before, but tonight it meant more. Even though I don't have a special needs child, this little glimse into the thoughts of a parent who DOES makes me realize that we all have been on a similar plane ride...

"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."

I have not forgotten about the tags. They will be my next post. Promise. :)


Erin said...

When I was in college getting my degree in Elem. Ed. one of the classes I took was Special Education. Our professor began the class the very first day with a scenario very similar to your post. I've always kept that story in the back of my mind. It's all about perception. Thanks for the refresher!

Emily Lauren said...

I had to read this in college. I love it and it chokes me up everytime. God Bless parents of Special Needs kids. They are such a blessing. Thanks for posting this.

allie said...

oh, leah. thank you. just.....thank you.<3

Emily said...

Much love from your sister who lived for several years in Italy........ and recently woke up in Holland.

Holland is a scary place, but the people you meet there are the very best in the world!

Susan Hancock said...

Now Lee- I'm just not prepared to take a trip to Holland tonight- but I think all the time how fortunate I have been in our very large family to have almost a 100 per cent round-trip tickets to Italy...

I think that you are one of those rare people who could enjoy all of the different options that Holland offers. Emily- well, she is trying very hard to adapt to Holland, if only her irritable stomach would cooperate. She's right though, the children and parents that she has met in Holland are wonderful and full of hope and faith.

Now- I bet I won't sleep tonight.

lov said... know who i am! :)
i promise!
you just don't know my new initials! :)
go read my newest blog and see if that gives you any more clues...

lov said...

you're 29.
i'm guessing you're a girl! LOL!
your first initial is l.
your maiden name starts with an o.
you're lds. right?
you know wendi.
well, ive met her once many years ago while i lived in beaufort
you're from kinston?
born there
or beaufort?
lived there
or chapel hill?
lived there too
or windsor?
lived there too
or richlands!?!
and there (and durham too)

still racking!!!
(i'm going to feel so flippin stupid when i finally figure this out!!!)

i'll give you one more hint
this should help you a lot

i went to high school with you
high school with your husband

lov said...

i told you knew who i was! :)

that was a fun little game!

lov said...

yeah, and that should say

i told you YOU knew who i was! :)

maybe its too late in the day for me (being that it is after 6 am!)

lov said...

you know, i love this post.....

but i must say, i get very frustrated at the parents who either refuse to believe they have landed in holland OR the ones who are fortunate enough to land in italy and want so to have landed in holland.

in my class i have a handful of parents that don't realize how greatly their child would benefit from services that come with a diagnosis, and i have parents who try their best to get diagnosis for their kids so they can get disability checks

sorry, just needed to vent!