Mom’s Touching Post Highlights the Journey of Special Needs Parenting
There are days that are challenging throughout motherhood and I have to admit that I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Too many cold days, too many sick kids, too many deadlines piled up that I can't seem to get to. And it seems like just when I'm throwing myself the ultimate pity party, I come across words that make me stop in my tracks.
And those words come courtesy of Chelsea Stewart Photography, who shared a moving Facebook post about her journey as a special needs parent. In her post, Stewart compared the process of finding out that you are becoming the parent of a child with special needs as someone who is taking a trip they didn't quite expect.
Stewart shared the words of famous poet Emily Perl Kingsley, a writer for Sesame Street, who welcomed a son with Down Syndrome in 1974. In 1987, she penned the poem “Welcome to Holland,” to describe what becoming a parent of a son with special needs was like:
“When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. 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? 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. You’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible disgusting place. 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 that you never would have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy. Less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there a while and you catch your breath … you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. And Holland has tulips. Holland is beautiful.
Everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy. And for the rest of your life you will say, “That’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
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.”
Alongside the beautiful poem, Stewart posted the pictures of her with her son, snapped by his father, on her photography Facebook page, showing that she, too, knows exactly what it's like to visit Holland. Her photos and the poem have been shared over 6,800 times, with plenty of people thanking her for sharing her story.
“Beautifully said,” commented one fellow mother of a daughter with special needs. “Holland is my whole world. While I wish we had made it to Italy for her health, I wouldn't change it for the world, gonna get us some wooden clogs, go pick tulips, and enjoy Holland forever!”