Saturday, October 1, 2011

31 for 21: Day 1 Holland is Lovely!

it's october, and that means it's Down syndrome awareness month!   three years ago i would not have known that october is Ds awareness month..... wyatt's birth in 2009 opened a whole new world to us!  i only wish i knew then what i know now!  throughout the month of october i will be posting daily to raise awareness about Down syndrome, as well as having a few guest writers share their stories!   so as i thought about what to post this first day of october, i decided to once again share the famous "welcome to holland" poem! 

we first found this poem a couple of days after wyatt was born, while we were waiting to find out if he did, indeed, have Down syndrome.  we had not told our family, just a couple of our best friends, about the possibility of his Ds diagnosis; we did not want to upset them if there was no reason to upset them.  we had gone to our local books-a-million searching for any books we could find on Ds.  we found virtually nothing....i believe the only book we found was "road map to holland: how i found my way through my son's first two years with Down syndrome," by jennifer graf groneberg.  this is the poem that is the basis of the title of her book.

the author of this poem is emily perl kingsley, who has been a writer for "sesame street" since 1970.  she gave birth to her son, jason (who has Down syndrome), in 1974.   jason co-authored with mitchell levitz the book "count us in: growing up with Down syndrome."

i think you will enjoy this poem as much as i do.....holland is beautiful!

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. Michelangelo's 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.

Copyright © 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley
All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. I love this poem and I never get tired of reading it. LOVE LOVE LOVE the baby Wyatt pic