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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Gaur

A Glimpse into the Life: Welcome to Holland

I am going to keep my comments brief– surprising, I know. Instead, I want to highlight the words of Sesame Street writer and INCREDIBLE disability activist, Emily Perl Kingsely. Do yourself a favor and take the time to look her up and read about her life of advocacy. I am grateful for all she has contributed over the past 50 years to make Brooklynn's world that much more accepting of neurodiversity.

Several months ago I came across an essay, written by Ms. Kingsley, that touched me to my core and reminded me that I am intimately connected to parents and families all around the world by a common thread– parenting a child with a disability. If you’re the parent of a disabled child, then you very likely have read this before, but for my other readers who may not be familiar, I want to share it with you today. May it give you a new perspective.

Welcome To Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

Copyright©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley.

All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of the author.

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 flight attendant 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.

* * *

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May 31, 2022

Wow - so profound and so beautiful! This can apply to so many things in life! Thanks for sharing!


Jennifer Angelucci
Jennifer Angelucci
May 29, 2022

What a great comparison and beautiful way to look at not only this situation but for all of life's unexpected curveballs.

Stephanie Gaur
Stephanie Gaur
May 30, 2022
Replying to

Yes, what a great point! This can be applied to so many other areas of our lives!

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