Expectations? Welcome to Holland

Yesterday I went to a beautiful wedding of two friends.  The church and reception were adorned with amazing bouquets of flowers. Big RED roses mixed with white-green hydrangeas- the most gorgeous flower arrangements I’ve ever seen!

The bride carried a bouquet of white tulips… beautiful, simple, elegant…. completely and absolutely perfect!

I don’t know why I expected her to carry the same red roses I had been admiring in the church, why I always “think” I know what is coming.

The simple elegance of her tulips and my own surprise about how “just right” they were reminded me of my experience mothering my children.  Somehow I  always “think” I know what is coming AND what is best AND how things “should be”… but really I don’t.

It is only when I pause to accept & appreciate what is happening right here & right now, no matter what difficulties my children may struggle with, that I am free to truly mother them as they need (as I need).

My friend’s tulips reminded me again about the poem written by Emily Pearl Kingsley titled “Welcome to Holland!”.   Although written for parents of a child with a disability, I think all who parent (mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas…) may identify with her words…. I know I do.

xoxo Michelle

Welcome to Holland!

 by Emily Pearl 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 guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michalangelo 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 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 go out and buy new guidebooks. 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, 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.” The pain of that will never go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.


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