June 25, 2009

Why I Love Holland

When Carter was born, Mike's Aunt Patti sent us a copy of this piece written by Emily Perl Kingsley...thank you by the way :)

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.
Today I truly appreciate Holland. I've become a different mother since Carter was born. The things that used to seem huge to me are no longer a big deal, and the little things really count. As a family, all of our priorities have shifted to the things that are really important. Sometimes when people hear about Carter's condition, they get a sad face and tell us how sorry they are. I REFUSE to be sad about who Carter is and who he will become. He's our baby, and he's already moved mountains in my eyes. Last night we noticed that Carter was actually starting to look at his play gym toys. I mean REALLY look at them. He was studying them for a long time, and it was hard to pull him away when it was time to get him ready for bed. Today, he's sitting in his swing and he's watching the lights above him flash. For any other kid, this would seem like an easy task and something that wouldn't need to be celebrated... but for Carter this is HUGE. Just watching him is bringing tears to my eyes. So for right now, at this very moment, I am going to enjoy Holland and be appreciative that we are lucky enough to spend some time here.


The Bender Family said...

What a great attitude to have! Carter is in no way a burden, he is a joy and a blessing to your family. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be ashamed. When I saw the pictures on your blog of your kids, I noticed that his left eye was almost closed when his right one was. He looks so great! What a cutie!!! YAY Carter!

Lauralee said...

Oh my gosh! What a wonderful woman you are! I admire you so much and I am so touched! Thank you for sharing your journey in Holland!