Friday, July 30, 2010

Welcome to Holland

One of the things I have come to learn about life is that it IS a journey; a journey through happy moments, crises, boring days, ecstasy, tragedy and simple moments. I believe the key to a well-lived life is how you handle each of these situations. We may not have choices about where our journey goes or what experiences we face, but we always have a choice about our attitude. If we do not like something, we can learn to live with it or change it. We can look a crisis in the face and crumble or we can find the strength to work through it and come out stronger on the other side.

I certainly would not chosen to have my marriage fall apart, to find out that the man I loved had cheated on me, betrayed me, put our son's safety in jeopardy and hurt other people. I would not have chosen to be a divorced only parent. I would not have chosen to have to explain to my son why his dad chose to commit suicide rather than get help for his many problems. I would not have chosen to raise my son alone.

But there are also many positive things that have come out of my journey. My son and I developed a very special, close & trusting relationship. I learned that I was stronger than I ever thought I could be. My son is learning coping skills early in life that will help him as he grows. I have an extended network of family and friends (my village) that truly enhance my son's and my life. I have connected with other single moms (mainly through this new blogging adventure) who give me support for the present and hope for the future.

When I worked with children with life-threatening illnesses, I came across this piece written about the experience of raising a child with disabilities. The story is powerful as well as transferable to many situations where you end up in a different place than expected. I hope that it touches you as much as it touches me.

Welcome to Holland

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  1987


  1. I think I must've read that before, because it sounds very familiar.
    This is why I can't make 5-year plans. Too many things happen and sometimes, you just have to go with it. I would never have believed 5 years ago that I would love my life this much.

  2. that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  3. That is really neat. I am going to pass it on to another blogger that i think will really enjoy it!