Monday, April 19, 2010

It's Something Special

I get asked how I can stay so happy and so positive while having two children with disablilites. My first answer is, "Why wouldn't I be happy?"

I know it's not proper to answer a question with a question. Well, don't you want your child to grow up as happy as they could? No matter what kind of personalities they have you plan to make the best life for them. Yes, I admit. It is hard sometimes but isn't being a parent, period, hard?

The best way I can explaine what it's like to be a parent in my situation is with one of my favorite poems.

"Welcome to Holland"
By Emily Perl Kingsley, 1987. 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.


A.S. Gabbitas said...

That is beautiful. You never fail to bring happy tears to my eyes with these kinds of posts. No matter if it is your story or another's. Because in a way it is the story of everyone that has ever had this experience. Thank you for sharing this.

Raree said...

So true. I mean, I don't have a child with disabilities, but this can apply to any unexpected trial (aren't they all?) in life. Trying hard to remain positive no matter what makes such a big difference in how you feel. Good for you for being strong and making that choice!

Laci said...

Thanks guys.