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Welcome to Holland

WELCOME TO HOLLAND
by 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.