For Those With Special Needs Children

Welcome to Holland

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. 

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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