Thursday, October 1, 2009

Welcome to Holland

When I first met Miss Helen (one of Aiden's first AVT's) she told me about the poem, Welcome to Holland. Whenever I read it, it reminds me of how in the beginning I really wanted to be in Italy, and still, on not so good days, would rather be there than "Holland" too. Believe me, I truly wouldn't change Aiden for the world and this journey is so amazing, but fact of the matter is, it isn't always the easiest, and there are days I want to give up, crawl back in bed, ignore it all, AND get back on the plane and demand they take me to Italy - NOW. Today was one of them. But I don't. I can't. Those precious baby blues, big ol' smile, and sound of "maaaaam" keep me going. Who could resist?

Then I get a phone call. I received a call tonight from a mom in Texas whose sweet baby girl didn't pass her newborn hearing screening. She's now five months old, has been wearing hearing aids since about six weeks old, is in AVT, and well on her way. We talked about the devastation felt when hearing the words "didn't pass", the "friendly", yet very awkward remarks on how "things could be worse" from family and friends, the "I'm so scared" of what's ahead. This is what I wanted from the get go ... to help newly diagnosed families in any way possible-it's what I love about this community of "friends". So, I emailed my new friend some resource links, some blogs to look at, and a big hug. Tomorrow I'm sending some pilot caps.

Then I thought about this poem and wanted to share it too. Even when first read, the thought of not being in Italy was stomach turning for me, but is Holland truly that bad? I've found not. In fact, I've found Holland to be just as beautiful and rewarding, it just took me a little bit more time to realize what a great trip it truly is.

Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley
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.

8 comments:

Val said...

your new friend is lucky to have you...you're a great mentor for other families, you're real, you're honest, you're experienced, love it!

Jenny- Sienna's mom said...

Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone. I am very fortunate to have found all you CI mothers and I know you'll take good care of your new friend. Everytime I read the poem "Welcome to Holland", it touches the exact emotions one feels but I especially like the final line, "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." Thank-you! I will now post the poem on Sienna's blog to help others understand.

tammy said...

Thanks Val! I'm learning from the best! *wink*

Jenny, that's what is so great about the blogging community, is not feeling alone - it was my saving grace. I have made many, many good friends and mentors but have only met two or three of them personally. I love the support we give each other - it truly is amazing!! Thank you for sharing your sweet girl with us too!

Lucas'Mommy said...

Love the poem too... so glad we got to finally drink to our boys with "dutch" beer. I think Holland is a great place, and I'm comfortable there now, but I still have my days when I wish I could lean on the tower of Pisa instead.... your friend is lucky to have you, and I'm so glad to have you as a friend too. :)

Melanie said...

Way to go, Tammy. Your friend is lucky to have you. Sometimes I agree that Holland stinks- but most of the time I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wendy (Mom to Toes) said...

This poem always, always gets me crying.

Kat said...

I remember when Thomas was first diagnosed. A wife of my husband's friend, who has children with other special needs, sent this poem to me. I remember reading it and sobbing like a little baby. Now it is funny...this poem somehow strengthens me. I've been to both Holland and Italy physically...I prefer Holland!

If your friend is close to me, have her give me a call, too. Let me know if it is the mom from Saginaw, which is just down the road from us.

I sent you a message on FB to try to schedule a call with lots of wine/beer!

Lily's Mom said...

Thinking of your friend reminds me of all the feelings I had when we first found out Lily was deaf. The first steps of acceptance and moving forward with the CI for me were after emailing with you. You have a special gift and I'm so glad God allowed me to "meet" you back in January. Our letters were what I needed to go on. Your friend is definitely in good hands.