Emily Perl Kingsley a prolific writer for Sesame Street as well as author of over 20 children’s books is both an accomplished professional of her trade – winning 12 Emmys for her creative work – but more importantly a loving mother of a Down’s syndrome child. A special child that The Universe entrusted to her. She wrote this piece to help us understand how to accept differences. To me, it is a moving example of dealing with loss of our own expectations, acceptance of life changes and the strength to carry on. Her writing is a metaphor for life in general – accepting what we cannot change and having the tenacity to look for the silver lining in everything that is presented to us. Regardless of the life altering experiences we have the lessons are the same…
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 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 suppose to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. You’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 hurt 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.”
Have a great few days!