Saturday, January 7, 2012


I read this story several months ago.  Long before I knew that things with Aidan were anything other than they should be.  I distinctly remember reading it and thinking that it was touching, and how awful it must be to have something like this apply to your life.

As it turns out, we would learn.

This was written to help others understand what it's like to raise a special needs child.  Although my son isn't physically or mentally disabled, we are all too familiar with "special needs."  I call them "different needs," but it's all the same.  We find ourselves mourning the loss of our "Italian vacation", especially as we meet more and more Italy-goers.  But you know what?  Holland's pretty great too.  Holland is where we are, and we're learning the language and the customs as we go.  Sometimes we feel like we haven't brought the right clothes, and we don't understand the food, and dear god what's with those wooden shoes? - but Holland is where our little love is, and I wouldn't have him any other way.



Emily 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 comment:

  1. What a wonderful way to look at it. And you know what? I've always wanted to go to Amsterdam anyways...