Thursday, October 23, 2008

Welcome to Holland

I know I have not done very well with the challenge of blogging everyday to help raise Down syndrome awareness. My life is so busy with my six young children. I wanted to post a poem that I read a few years before Morgan's birth. My neighbor had it hanging on her wall. She was a young mom with two beautiful daughters, both of whom were deaf. She told me how much the poem meant to her. I read it and remember thinking how perfect the poem fit her children and her situation. Over the next few years I forgot about the poem. Then Morgan was born. While she was still in the NICU I was given a yellow folder with all kinds of information about Down syndrome. The poem was in the packet of information. I read it again and realized how perfectly the poem now fit my life and situation. The author has a son with Down syndrome.

WELCOME TO HOLLAND by 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 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...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 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.


Heidi Rushing said...

great thought that can be applied to many aspects of all our lives - and love your new blog!

COOLWHIP said...

I LOVE the picture!

DKAZ said...

My sister-in-law shared that with us when she had her youngest son who is Aug's age and born with Noonan's Syndrome-similar to Down's.

So, you're busy with six little ones then??? Doing what!? :)

DKAZ said...

Oh ps-liking the new layout.

grandma bethany said...

What a great poem. I have not read it before. But it reflects on so much of all our lives. Seems like so much of the time, we are looking for something a little better.
By the way, I have visited both Italy and Holland. They are both wonderful and each offers something special. It depends on ones attitude and what you are looking for.

kellyclay said...

Heather, What a great poem thank you for sharing it. I know I did not give birth to our Dale but I love him like he is my own with each one of his challenges from aspergers he still lights up my life.

Proctor said...

So parents actually do read the material that we give to them in the NICU :) I have loved this poem since I heard it the first time too!