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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......
Welcome To Holland - a poem by Emily Perl Kingsley (1987)
all rights reserved
You’ve seen me before
By Michelle Flood (Mom to Austin, 6)
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.
I’m the mom dragging her kid out of the car in the school parking lot while he holds on to the interior for dear life.
I’m the mom walking her kid into school wearing no shoes or coat when it’s 12 degrees outside.
I’m the mom who issues a sigh instead of a gasp when caller ID shows it’s the school calling. Again !
I’m the mom whose cell phone number is on the school’s speed dial.
I’m the mom who has strangers tell her she has the most charming son while caregivers tell her he’s exhausting and suggest I look elsewhere for care.
I’m the mom who knows to hold onto the stair railing so she doesn’t get pushed down the stairs in her child’s rage.
I’m the mom who has put her kid in his room then sat outside crying while he emptied his closet and threw hangers at the door, chipping off the paint.
I’m the mom who had a lock on her kid’s bedroom door to keep him in his room at night when he was young.
I’m the mom who knows the best way to carry a 50 lb kid in a manner where she can’t get kicked, hit or bit.
I’m the mom who can turn her back for 2 seconds and lose her kid in a hotel, on a cruise ship, at the park, or anywhere that child abductors might be lurking.
I’m the mom who will let her 6 year old go into the men’s bathroom at McDonalds alone rather than suffer a meltdown of epic proportions.
I’m the mom who people shake their heads at and say, “That kid wouldn’t be doing that if he were my son”, or “that kid just needs a swift kick in the pants”.
On the other hand, I’m the mom who gets bear hugs and “I love you” with no prompting and right out of the blue.
I’m the mom who gets asked at bedtime, “Will you share some special time with me tonight?”
I’m the mom who has a little boy hugging and kissing her with total abandon – in front of his friends.
I’m the mom who smiles proudly as her son charms the waitress, the mailman and the pizza delivery kid.
I’m the mom who gets to celebrate even the tiniest accomplishments of her son because each one means so much.
I’m the mom who has a son who can make her double over laughing because he has such a great sense of humor.
And I’m the mom who can love her son through good and bad unconditionally.
I’m the mom with an ADHD son.