Tuesday, January 19, 2010

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 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.
Jonathan as most of you know is our fifth child. He was born October 9, 1998 and he was blessed with a little something extra Trisomy 21...or as most know it Down Syndrome. And in the world of Ds most have heard of "Welcome to Holland". I was given "Welcome to Holland" 3 days after I gave birth to Jonathan. I read it once, I read it twice, and the third time through I thought WOW....it's amazing someone knows just how I'm feeling, for you see Jonathan was and is "My Holland". Jonathan is now 11.3 years old and I often think of "Welcome to Holland". In the past few weeks I have thought of it often reflecting on the fact that though there are many in Holland on the same trip each one has their own map and itinerary. The fact that we are and always will be in Holland is very real to me, yet I wouldn't change it for anything. For this is where the Lord placed us and Jonathan was make perfect in His image.
Every good and every perfect gift is from above
James 1:17
So God created man in His own image;
in the image of God He created him
Genesis 1:27


Amanda said...

I hadn't heard of Welcome to Holland, but it is a very interesting description of the experience. I think all your children are precious, Jonathan included, and I'm so happy that God blessed you with so much joy in your life.

Amy said...

Oh Laura, this is a great story. I've never thought of it that way before. Thanks for sharing that story!!!

Lyndi said...

I am enjoying my life in Holland too. It's a great place! Of course, I went on purpose, it WAS in my itinerary, but it's still full of surprises and beauty. I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING! Thanks for sharing this story, every time I hear it, it makes me thankful for the blessings in my life and the direction God took my family!

Sunny said...

I love Welcome to Holland. I think of it almost day. It helps me see things in the right perspective. Yes, our journey may be different than a lot of people - but that's ok. And when I get frustrated at comments or looks of other people all I have to do is remind myself that they don't understand - they've never been to Holland. All they know is Italy. They don't know all the beauty there is to see in Holland.

Thanks for sharing. I always feel so blessed to be sharing this journey with so many wonderful woman, like you, that I admire.

Selena said...

Thanks for sharing!!! Beautifully said!!

misslynda said...

I love that story - -- - heard it before but had forgotten about it. It is such a great description of many events in life - - and of course, the proper perspective of them. You are some of the best tour guides I know for your territory of Holland.

Norris said...

Around this time last year, a few weeks after my wife and I found out that our little Camden had Down syndrome--confirmed via amnio--we came across the "Welcome to Holland" story. Needless to say, that story is near and dear to our hearts and really hits the nail on the head with our experience with Camden.

Theresa said...

I never read this. My sister mentioned a blog and "Welcome to Holland" story but I didn't know what she was talking about.

Love you!