I’m sure most people with a child with a disability have heard of Emily Perl Kingsley’s “Welcome to Holland”. In it she explains that raising a child with a disability is like finding out you’ve gone to Holland when everyone around you has gone to Italy. It isn’t that Holland is bad, indeed it is a good place, it’s just that it isn’t Italy, and is never going to be.
Raising Nathan feels a bit like that. It doesn’t seem like we landed in Holland though. More like a little wee place in the country in Italy. We got to the right country, but we landed at the wrong airport and now we must walk to the big city. So, it will take us longer to get to the museums and lights and pizzaz. We must wait, patiently, for our child to catch up to us. His legs are smaller and his steps less certain. Along the journey, if we are fortunate, we will find kindess in odd places. We will make new friends that we would never meet in a city and we will learn to appreciate the simple, small things in life. We will take the time to watch flowers bloom as we wait for our child to find the words to describe the joy he feels in their beauty.
It is a hard journey. We get tired and frustrated and wish that we could skip the journey all together. We will get postcards and letters from friends describing all the wonders of the city. We will worry that we will never see these wonders. We will wonder if the journey is worth it at all.
We might get to the city. We might not. The least we can hope is to arrive outside the city limits and discover that we prefer life in the country. The most we can hope is that we will be happy.