Living in the country that you are in

This is my son in ridiculously cold winds – he needs to get out and about everyday – whatever the weather!!


One of my wonderful friends sent me this poem yesterday. To put it into context for me –

 – I didnt sign up to go on holiday in the first place, in fact I had been told it was something I wasn’t able to participate in!

–  I also avoided any kind of preparation as it then all became a bit too real and a bit too scary

–  however I always had in the back of my mind that everything would be wonderful once the plane touched down.


Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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.


My son is not disabled, nowhere near. He has some very real challenges in his behaviour, ability to learn and socialise – within what we class as a “normal” environment. As yet there is no clear diagnosis, as yet I do not think he needs one. I am growing to love Holland passionately and know that I will not be leaving anytime soon – I am now working on bringing others with me to this wonderful place, because some of them really are missing out on the trip of a lifetime!



2 Responses to “Living in the country that you are in”

  1. chickenruby Says:

    i started life in italy with 3 kids and was moved to holland aged 28 when i met my husband and his kids i became mum to andrew now aged 21 & steph npw aged 22 and profoundly disabled we decided to flee holland as andrew fled to germany with the army one of mine left home and stephs lifelong funding was secured we are now living in south africa and not once have we felt or been made to feel guilty for deciding holland wasnt for us

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