Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meet me in Holland

Emily Kingsley's poem Welcome to Holland is standard reading for any special needs parent. Upon diagnosis 58 people will immediately forward you this poem.

It's a beautiful poem describing what it is like when you find out your child has special needs by using the metaphor of planning a trip to Italy but landing in Holland. We grieve our plans for Italy while we learn to love the wonderful things about Holland.

I really do love this poem.
There is just one thing that doesn't work for me:
We still land in Italy.

Our itinerary has changed and our guidebooks are no longer relevant - but make no mistake we are still very much in Italy.

And in Italy we are surrounded by all the other tourists whose trip is still going as planned, and who still believe trips go as planned.

They see us but can't understand the shell shocked expression on our faces because hey, we all landed in Italy!   Salute!

Sometimes I wish I actually was in Holland with all the other displaced would-be Italian tourists like myself. Sometimes I think that would be easier. Easier than the lonely Holland bubble we now move through Italy within, bumping into one another once in awhile as we navigate Italian roads with our obsolete maps.

In Holland we would be together. All of us feeling lost, but lost together, so not alone.  Belonging now to each other in our new status of not belonging.

Our expressions of confusion and grief would be mirrored in the faces of our fellow refugees, along with astonishment and wonder as we each learn to find our footing and take in the unexpected landscape.

Sometimes we might still talk about Italy. We might once in awhile share what we had planned and say to each other "Oh that sounds nice..." but it would just be a memory of a plan - not reality playing out before us each and every day.
"Holland has tulips."

In Holland we would be the norm.

And Tulips and Rembrandt's wouldn't stand out for being different, they would just stand out for being beautiful.


  1. omg what an awesome post!!!! anne in ny - mom to 4 special needs kiddos with all sorts of things going on :)

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Anne - you made my day!

  2. I feel the same way you do! I agree that sometimes it is actually better to be in Holland where everyone understands!

  3. Sorry if this is a dupblicate comment, Blogger doens't like me it seems. I can relate to wishing I were among all people who understood in Holland (I literally live here, LOL). There is another story which is called soemthing like "welcoem tot he north atlantic". It was written specifically for preemie parents, and is much more negative than the Holland version. It makes one thing clear htough, which is that as special needs parents (and people with disabilities), we're constantly lagging a few steps behind the norm, and we're trying to catch on, and expected to catch on, but we never quite do.

  4. Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative.
    white polo shirt