Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why Am I Going to Holland Instead of Italy?


In all my years of teaching special needs preschool I held many mothers in my arms and in my heart.  I understood their pain and I walked with them through their journey.  I have been blessed to see some of these children grow up to be remarkable adults.  “I Give Tours of Holland” was a sign that once hung in my classroom and I was often asked: “What does that sign mean?“  I can't explain it better then what is written below:

Many years ago Emily Perl Kingsley wrote to the "Dear Abby" newspaper column to try and explain the experience of being the parent of a special needs child. This is what she wrote:

"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 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 most 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-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there a while, and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, 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 go away, because the loss of that dream is a 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."

  

2 comments:

  1. This was a wonderful read to start my day. Thank you!
    Storie

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  2. What a beautiful perspective! Thanks so much for sharing this, Deb!
    Linda

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