I saw this poem a couple of years ago, probably during Connor's first year of life. This past week it has popped up on my Facebook news feed several times, so I thought I would share it with y'all. I think it's pretty fitting to our family. In fact, I read it aloud to Matt last week and definitely started to get emotional (I hope he didn't catch it...I tried to be descreet ;)
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley.
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.
Honestly, rereading parts of that just now made me tear up.
Some people know they're going to be in Holland before their child is ever born. We didn't. I'm not sure if I would want to know.
It's true, the pain is there. Though you may not see it on our faces, it's there, buried beneath the surface. Sometimes much closer and occasionally it will bubble over.
It's tough to have your 2.5 year old called a baby by others.
It's tough to see other parents lament that "babies don't keep" or "I wish he/she could stay this little forever" or "never grow up." I know those parents don't mean that...but it's still hard to see.
Most parents in Italy probably took their kid to a park, or a movie, or other fun place the past few weekends. Here in our Holland? The ER.
(An old picture prior to his teeth being pulled)
Even though there is a bit of pain in not being in Italy, Holland can be pretty awesome. This is what we choose to focus on as a family.
Holland has this sweet snuggle bug!
In our Holland, we have the most amazing kid. Each day I don't think he can possibly be more amazing...yet he is. He gets cuter by the day, I swear!
We are continuously amazed at Connor. He is trying SO hard to scoot and can do it just a little. One day soon he's going to get the hang of it. He's blowing bubbles and "talking" a lot, though we may not always understand it ;) He hasn't let his surgeries in June get him down. If you remember...he was trying to roll over the night of surgery!!
So, that's our Holland. It's not Italy, but we've got the cutest kid ever in Holland, so I think we'll take it ;)