Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Welcome to Holland

I have been reading Jenny McCarthy's book, "Mother Warriors." The book is filled with stories of mothers who healed their child's Autism against all odds. There are many stories that remind me of our situation with Owen.
Last night, I read a chapter entitled "What a 'Trip'." She shared something I had read before, but reminded me of the wonderful "trip" our family is on.
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.
(Emily Pearl Kingsley)
I love this analogy. Sure, our life with Owen is different than what we had planned when he was born. Would I change it? NO WAY! We have learned so much from him and about ourselves we would have never learned without him. One look at that little boy just makes all the endless hours of therapy, trials and challenges worth it.
He is doing soooooo good. He is talking more and more each day and it's getting clearer and clearer than ever. The other night at the dinner table, he kept spelling words (R-I-M spells rim, etc.). He would not stop and eat his dinner. We had to tell him, "Owen, stop talking and eat your dinner!). We both looked at each other and said, "Who would have thought that we would ever be telling Owen to stop talking."
At the rate Owen is going, Autism is going to be a distant memory in the near future!


ashlin said...

i cannot help but smile whenever I see Owen. that beaming smile on his face is absolutely infectious! i'm always amazed with how much he's learning. i love that little boy!

Chandra said...

Hey! So good to read your blog! How are you? Sounds like life is going well for you. Owen...I love that name...we are thinking of that name for our little bean-o who will be born in May. Autism is challenging...with soooo many different degrees. Keep your faith strong and you WILL be blessed. Miss you and glad to be in touch.