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.

 

Emily Perl Kingsley is an American writer who joined the Sesame Street team in 1970 and has been writing for the show ever since. Her son Jason Kingsley was born with Down Syndrome in 1974.

I’ve written about my son who was born with a cleft lip and palate, cerebral palsy and developmental delays before.  This poem captures the feelings I’ve had for 30 years since his birth…

 

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46 responses

  1. I had never seen this, but it’s a very apt way to describe it. I like Holland, and, as it turns out, it’s a pretty great place. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Until somebody’s been there, no description will truly do it justice.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, it says it perfectly, I think!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it does.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never read this but the depth of the words is incredible. Thank you for sharing this. ❤

    Like

  4. Love this. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so beautiful…And most people have a Holland, of one type or another…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, that’s life, I suppose!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Powerful analogy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have a friend who has carried that in her wallet for many years. She has a Downs Syndrome son…

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Moving, D. ❤

    Like

  8. What a beautiful analogy. Thanks for sharing. Finding that beauty in wherever life takes us…that’s the secret.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is. Dwelling on the negative serves no purpose…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. She may have thought she wanted to go to Italy, but really she was meant for Holland all along.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, maybe. But I still wanted to go to Italy. Not just for me, but for my son, too…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We all want Italy, however the really special ones get Holland! xo

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aww, thanks. You are sweet to say so ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve loved this since I read it about 7 years ago. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s rather perfect, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes ma’am. You and I both live there❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The way I see it, we are the lucky ones. Besides, I love tulips. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I bet Dave is a keeper!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. ❤️❤️❤️

        Like

  11. Holland The land of Tulips…I have never been there but hoping to be there soon

    Like

  12. Very beautiful and profound post. I’ve never seen this piece or for that matter been to Holland but raising a child with a disability as my personal Holland shaped me in ways that would never have been possible if I made the Italy trip. It was exhausting and at times frustrating but I wouldn’t change the experience for anything in the world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree. Raising my son, who just turned 30, has been rewarding in so many ways, even with his disabilities. But a little part of me will always regret that he (and our family) had to go through the things we did and that he will never have the same life with marriage and a family as his brother. But, it is what it is…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, unfortunately one of the drawbacks on this human experience are those niggling thoughts that haunt us. Even though I’m grateful for my personal growth I can’t help but wonder from time to time what if things were different.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I wish that the joys would eliminate any regrets. My sister in law was happy she received a small bouquet to carry at my wedding, she worked at a workshop for Proctor and Gamble. (Cincinnati, Ohio).
    When our wedding was over, Jennifer had been to two weddings of her much younger brothers. She asked her parents could she have a wedding? When told, “probably not,” she asked could she have a nice party? I was happy since her parents had money and knew Jen knew why no wedding. They had a grand party with her getting gifts like restaurant cards and she had a band, asked her Dad to have a “first dance” with her. She was so excited about a big cake! She was born with Down’s Syndrome, which allowed her to have much understanding of life, despite not having a boyfriend or marriage. I was proud of her parents for inviting the sheltered workshop co-workers and their deciding if they had had a different daughter, money would have been spent. Jus letting you know, I get most of this post. I passed this part of the Holland trip to my preschool special ed students’ parents. Many felt it was worth copying and passing out to their families. 💖 💞

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back often!

    Like

  15. ! I passed this part of the Holland trip to my preschool special ed students’ parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you. I’ve seen it in print before and its a very poignant piece, especially for those of us with special needs children…

      Like

  16. i love very much Holland and there city of amsterdam Sneek etc

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ! i love very much Holland and there city of amsterdam Sneek etc

    Liked by 1 person

  18. ! i love very much Holland and there city of amsterdam Sneek etc

    Liked by 1 person

  19. jimenobaeznarvaez | Reply

    ! i love very much Holland and there city of amsterdam Sneek etc

    Liked by 1 person

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