Thursday, August 12, 2010

Welcome to Holland

When Kayla was born, someone sent me this poem.  It was written by the mom of a special needs child.  I find it a little ironic that we are currently IN Holland (also known as the Netherlands) for her to compete in the IPC  Long Course World Swimming Championships.  Kayla really IS taking me to Holland!

Welcome To Holland
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.

*Note:  I recently learned that the usage of the word "Holland" is technically incorrect as it actually describes a region in the central-western part of the Netherlands.  We are in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

The athletes have been training hard!  Opening ceremonies are tomorrow and the competition begins on Sunday, August 15th.  Go Team USA!


RT said...

Very cool explanation of what it must be like to be you. However, no one's life ever truly takes them where they thought would/should be. I didn't plan on being a fat old lady on disability, but so it is. We all roll with the punches, or we break. Granted, you have had a few more unexpected punches than most, but that's because the powers that be knew you would be the right person to teach Kayla how to be the wonderful young woman she is becoming. Not to mention Sam I Am! We love you. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

Carrie Sprenger said...

I like being in Holland. The flowers snell wonderful here and that is why the success achieved here is even more sweeter. Each person in Holland designed uniquely by their creator. I am glad we have gotten to be apart of your family. Your family really was an
incredible gift to mine. We have learned so much along the way. I hope you both are having a blast. We are with you in spirit.

Your eternal groupies,

The Sprengers

Susan N. said...

Thanks for sharing your story and journey with us. I have had MS for 10 years now. I never thought I would be able to give myself daily injections...but it is what it is. Some days are better then others. I have MS but MS does not have me. You have a beautiful daughter and you are an awesome mom. Life is not the way it's suppose to be; it's the way it is. The way we cope with it is what makes the difference.... Good luck, have fun, go USA...