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Welcome to Holland(48 Posts)
When I read this last year after DS was diagnosed I could not relate to it at all - it seemed like the end of the world and I was so depressed.
Today I read it and it made sense to me. I collected DS today from school and he was in a great mood - his teacher said he'd been really good all day, he played with a boy from the street and interacted with him a good bit of the time instead of wandering around in a dream world. There are things to look forward to. I'm planning a holiday in the summer which DCs are excited about and DS is excited to be getting a new baby brother.
I never thought I'd ever feel this way.
Glad that your DS had a good day at school imaginosity and that you are feeling so positive with holiday plans and the new baby on the way.
Glad that the poem made sense to you today - it does have a 'marmite' reputation !
I just read it and cried - so glad you are feeling positive about the future. Hope I get there soon.
Oh sorry why. I felt depressed for so long and at last I think I am at the point of acceptance (not completely, but a many days). I thought we were kind of doomed so being sad forever - but actually we have lots of happy times. We don't have the same life as the families of the other children in DS's class but somehow we're not doing so bad. We don't do playdates or football training like I expected, DS needs extra help at school to help him cope. He's very happy living the life he enjoys rather than the one I presumed he'd have.
I like that a lot Polter.
I hate the Holland poem too.
Yes, it looks interesting - will bookmark to look at properly when I'm less tired.
Ok maybe I'm one of the few people who don't hate the Holland thing.
It does capture how I feel right now though - I feel happy enough with this life - even though I expected and wanted the other 'standard' life. Sometimes I see people living that 'other' life, their children doing lots of playdates and sports, all the things I thought DS would do. It used to absolutely break my heart as all I could see was how DS was missing out. Now I go home and let DS have his time digging in the garden, completely happy, while I read a book in the sun and I feel relieved I don't have to be standing at the side of a football pitch miles from home. I can see the upsides to our life.
I read the grief one you linked but I can't relate to that so much as I did grieve hugely when DS was diagnosed. Maybe that doesn't sound very nice - but I slipped into a depression and was really anxious about his future. I've slowly come to terms with it.
I suspect for me the Holland poem is difficult on too many levels, but if it speaks to you and helps that's great. I don't really get the longing for the child-you-didn't-have thing. There are so many options it rather baffles me. That and grieving seem to be a more mainstream response though, so I am probably a bit weird. I wish ds didn't have to struggle with a severe language disorder. I wish it so much that I can cry any time. I always will feel that way. The autism? . Not so much.
I don't like the Welcome to Holland poem either - I prefer this which I found on a website called Uncommon Sense:
Parents of “normal” kids who are friends with parents of kids with special needs often say things like “Wow! How do you do it? I wouldn’t be able to handle everything---you guys are amazing!” (Well, thank you very much.) But there’s no special manual, no magical positive attitude serum, no guide to embodying strength and serenity . . . people just do what they have to do. You rise to the occasion, and embrace your sense of humor (or grow a new one). You come to love your life, and it’s hard to imagine it a different way (although when you try, it may sting a little). But things weren’t always like this . . . at first, you ricocheted around the stages of grief, and it was hard to see the sun through the clouds. And forget the damn tulips or windmills. In the beginning you’re stuck in Amsterdam International Airport. And no one ever talks about how much it sucks.
You briskly walk off of the plane into the airport thinking “There-must-be-a-way-to-fix-this-please-please-don’t-make-me-have-to-stay-here-THIS-ISN’T-WHAT-I-WANTED-please-just-take-it-back”. The airport is covered with signs in Dutch that don’t help, and several well-meaning airport professionals try to calm you into realizing that you are here (oh, and since they’re shutting down the airport today, you can never leave. Never never. This is your new reality.). Their tone and smiles are reassuring, and for a moment you feel a little bit more calm . . . but the pit in your stomach doesn’t leave and a new wave of panic isn’t far off.
(Although you don’t know it yet, this will become a pattern. You will often come to a place of almost acceptance, only to quickly re-become devastated or infuriated about this goddamned unfair deviation to Holland. At first this will happen several times a day, but it will taper to several times a week, and then only occasionally.)
A flash of realization---your family and friends are waiting. Some in Italy, some back home . . . all wanting to hear about your arrival in Rome. Now what is there to say? And how do you say it? You settle on leaving an outgoing voicemail that says “We’ve arrived, the flight was fine, more news to come” because really, what else can you say? You’re not even sure what to tell yourself about Holland, let alone your loved ones.
(Although you don’t know it yet, this will become a pattern. How can you talk to people about Holland? If they sweetly offer reassurances, it’s hard to find comfort in them . . . they’ve never been to Holland, after all.
And their attempts at sympathy? While genuine, you don’t need their pity . . . their pity says “Wow, things must really suck for you” . . . and when you’re just trying to hold yourself together, that doesn’t help. When you hear someone else say that things are bad, it’s hard to maintain your denial, to keep up your everything-is-just-fine-thank-you-very-much outer shell. Pity hits too close to home, and you can’t admit to yourself how terrible it feels to be stuck in Holland, because then you will undoubtedly collapse into a pile of raw, wailing agony. So you have to deflect and hold yourself together . . . deflect and hold yourself together.)
You sneak sideways glances at your travel companion, who also was ready for Italy. You have no idea how (s)he’s handling this massive change in plans, and can’t bring yourself to ask. You think “Please, please don’t leave me here. Stay with me. We can find the right things to say to each other, I think. Maybe we can have a good life here.” But the terror of a mutual breakdown, of admitting that you’re deep in a pit of raw misery, of saying it out loud and thereby making it reality, is too strong. So you say nothing.
(Although you don’t know it yet, this may become a pattern. It will get easier with practice, but it will always be difficult to talk with your partner about your residency in Holland. Your emotions won’t often line up---you’ll be accepting things and trying to build a home just as he starts clamoring for appointments with more diplomats who may be able to “fix” it all. And then you’ll switch, you moving into anger and him into acceptance. You will be afraid of sharing your depression, because it might be contagious---how can you share all of the things you hate about Holland without worrying that you’re just showing your partner all of the reasons that he should sink into depression, too?)
And what you keep thinking but can’t bring yourself to say aloud is that you would give anything to go back in time a few months. You wish you never bought the tickets. It seems that no traveler is ever supposed to say “I wish I never even got on the plane. I just want to be back at home.” But it’s true, and it makes you feel terrible about yourself, which is just fantastic . . . a giant dose of guilt is just what a terrified lonely lost tourist needs.
Although you don’t know it yet, this is the part that will fade. After you’re ready, and get out of the airport, you will get to know Holland and you won’t regret the fact that you have traveled. Oh, you will long for Italy from time to time, and want to rage against the unfairness from time to time, but you will get past the little voice that once said “Take this back from me. I don’t want this trip at all.”
Each traveler has to find their own way out of the airport. Some people navigate through the corridors in a pretty direct path (the corridors can lead right in a row: Denial to Anger to Bargaining to Depression to Acceptance). More commonly, you shuffle and wind around . . . leaving the Depression hallway to find yourself somehow back in Anger again. You may be here for months.
But you will leave the airport. You will.
And as you learn more about Holland, and see how much it has to offer, you will grow to love it.
And it will change who you are, for the better.^
I've always liked welcome to Holland, because actually it was the first thing I ever saw that said, yep it's ok to be upset, it's ok to take time to adjust to the fact that your child isn't the one you thought you had.
Mine is 20 and actually I know now he is who he always was, but the first year or two after I realised he has autism were really hard going and I knew no-one else who had gone through it and there was very little online community that was easily accessible either and welcome to Holland made me feel like I wasn't being a horrible person to struggle to adjust straight away.
I really like "welcome to Holland". I have 3 children with ASD, and my parenting journey is completely different to how I expected, much more difficult and probably always will be, but they are amazing children that I am super proud of
That's amazing Dimplehands. I'm going to share that with a group I'm in.
There was a blog post written as an alternative to Welcome to Holland that said that it wasn't comparable to Holland, more like the bar/fight scene in Star Wars.
I really identified with it, but haven't been able to find it in years.
Dimple I like that and in real life Schiphol is a bit of a nightmare with lots of signs saying things like it is '35 mins walk to gate B' which it might be if it weren't for the security stops en route but then that rings true for the SN journey too...
My biggest problem with these poems is we thought we 'had landed in Rome' and it has only become apparent over time bit by bit that we didn't.
I can't imagine there will ever be a time when I like the Holland poem, except for once when I came close to liking it, purely because I heard someone explaining it to a Dutch mother of a child newly diagnosed with ASD and heard in my head:
'Having a disabled child is just like visiting your country!'
I will never ever forget that moment!
Blueberry - the author thought she had landed in Rome, and got all the diagnoses for her DS over the first ten years!
Well DH is Dutch and so we frequently travel to Holland, by intent not accident and I have no desire to go to Rome.
I did grieve, pre-diagnosis when ASD was first suggested but after waiting a year plus for diagnosis was just grateful when we got it. I look back now and genuinely can't remember why I felt so sad. Life is good and I wouldn't change any bit of my DD.
I don't like welcome to Holland because the whole ASD thing is not about me it is all about DS', what he can and can't cope with, what he will or won't achieve, whether or not he is happy, angry or sad and whether life will meet his expectations of it.
So in a nutshell the direct route to Rome was cancelled long before the plane left the tarmac. For me it is how we get there now and if our journey takes us through France, Holland and Germany on the way to Italy and on to Rome then so be it if that is where DS wants to go.
is not about me it is all about DS
^^^^^^^this A BILLION TIMES.
I don't care where I fly with my children.
Besides which I have "been to Rome" (not in RL, that would be quite cool) and it was fine but I don't want to go there all the time.
I would love to go to Rome in RL, <slinks off to apply for a passport>
England is still a green and pleasant land though.
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