The New Special Parent

January 30, 2008 Kyron 2 Comments

I have received dozens of emails from parents who are new to this whole experience of being a special needs parent. They are desperately seeking information, validation and the knowledge holland The New Special Parentthat they are not alone. My experience says for every one of you that gathered up the strength to write me, there’s dozens and dozens more that are just lurking on the sidelines. It’s ok. Reaching out is hard. Especially in the wake of the news that your child has a disability. Or as one emailer today told me, she just got the news that her unborn child WILL have a disability.

If you might be one of these parents, let me assure you indeed are NOT alone. The experiences you are having right now are to be expected. Today I offer you links to two articles that I think would have proved helpful to me when I was starting this journey if they were available.

While I referenced it in my first blog post I think it bears reprinting. New parents… Welcome to Holland

WELCOME TO HOLLAND
by
Emily Perl Kingsley

(c) 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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.

Related posts:

  1. The Ability to Endure… Just like a Special Parent
  2. Thanks to Special Needs Parent!

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Nancy says:

    I LOVE this poem!
    And you’re so right about us parents being so overwhelmed with everything that goes with having a special needs child. it’s a lot of “I don’t know what it is that I don’t know!” and “Um, yeah, can someone give me the instruction manual for this!”

    ultimately we just have to remember, we are our child’s best advocate and there are no stupid questions…ever.

  2. Kyron says:

    Yea the stupid question thing is one of the biggest things you learn as a special parent. The stupid question is the one that goes unasked fearing looking stupid. People – check out Nancy’s article on I don’t know what it is that I don’t know!!! Click on her name above to read it at her blog!

    ~Kyron

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