Saturday, September 11, 2010

Welcome to Holland

byEmily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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.


  1. very profound, thank you for posting gail. have a good week - god bless - nita

  2. hi G, wow i missed so many posts. I thought I signed up to follow your blog...guess it didh't go through. Will sign up again. Tx for this post G. and I enjoyed reading all the rest too. well..sept 11 has come and gone again, and thankfully all is peaceful still.
    Pray for me, I'll be going for a scope upper and lower this fri morn. I am a little nervous, have always been terrified of docs, especially after my C section. pray it will be painless and all will go well.
    love ya, and wishing you a beautiful autumn.:)

  3. This is an amzing storty Gail and really glad I read it. It so ture have they descibe metiforically how things do and will happpen and we have no choice. None.
    Bless you Gail.
    I smiled.. .I mean I really smiled at your comment on my critters. Yes they can be a pest.
    Love it
    Thanks again for sharing this story. I wont forget it I dont think ever.

  4. Hi Gail, I was listening to "Focus On The Family," on a Christian Radio show last week, and they had Chuck Colson, and his daughter, Emily Colson on, telling their story of her son who has Autism.
    It helped me get a better understand, and I thought of you, and your precious grandaughter. They spoke of a book she has written called , Dancing With Max. Maybe you have already heard of it but I do no you read alot. I copied and pasted the info for the book below if you are interested.
    Thank you also for sharing this post. We all have so much to learn.
    You are often in my thoughts and prayers Gail, more than you know.
    Hope you have a good and Blessed week ahead.
    Hugs Dianne :)

    Dancing With Max

    Emily Colson


    hardcover, 200 pages, $16.99


    Being a parent of a child with special needs can be isolating and difficult—and a challenge when it comes to faith—or so Colson found her experience with her now 19-year-old son, Max.

    In Dancing With Max: A Mother and Son Who Broke Free, Colson shares her experience. Colson—whose husband left when Max was an infant—was overwhelmed with the lack of progress Max was making early on as she saw others his age get along in life just fine, while she suffered through his repeated setbacks and, at times, embarrassing incidents. Finally finding answers, she discovered that Max had autism, enabling her to move forward and grow with Max.

    In sharing her discovery of God’s gift to Max of seeing the world with a different but uncluttered view, Colson will bring hope and encouragement to those who have a child with autism. The book includes a prologue and epilogue by author—and Max’s grandfather—Charles Colson.

  5. Excellent written & a great analogy – Holland is not so bad after all, it’s just a different pace that takes some constant acclimatising I’d imagine, but you do it so well & I’ve nothing but great admiration for such assiduousness.

    I’ve no little ones of my own on the horizon just yet, but when my time comes, rest assured I’ll be picking your brain for all kinds of tips about doing one’s utmost in looking after another life from day dot.