Welcome to Holland: Life as a carer

I received this beautiful email from another mum, another person who knows about the role of being a carer:
“I was just reading through some of your blogs about your days with Abbey and it reminded me of this poem thing  I’ve read called Welcome to Holland …  You’ve probably read it before, but just in case you haven’t.  
Disabilities really do bring a lot of challenges, but they bring special things too that others miss out on.  I’m not going to pretend I have any idea of what your life is like, but I worked as a Disability Support Worker for many years, and also as a teacher aide at special schools.  …  And working with disabilities is different to living with it 24/7!!!  You know something else I discovered – everyone has heard about Downs Syndrome, ASD, Cerebral Palsy etc.  But there are sooooooooooo many other disabilities, combinations, or completely unknown yet even to the doctors out there.  And there are so many children that society doesn’t know about because it’s just so hard to take them out into society.

Don’t know why I’m telling you this.  But I suppose maybe just encouragement that you are doing a great job, it’s ok to have moments where everything seems too much or even a little unfair, empathy for when you get looks/comments from others when they have no idea what you’re life is like, and shared rejoicing in all the little milestones that to other people might seem stupid (like a hole in the wall, or a hug that wasn’t initiated by you!)

Keep smiling and being the great mum you are :)”

Chantelle is one of our customers, a member of our community and someone who touched me deeply. I wanted to share her email with you, as I wish I could send a similar email to everyone who is having a rough day.
Thankyou Chantelle, you made me smile, settled my fears for a moment and gave me some courage. Thankyou.
If you are currently experiencing a big change in your life due to disability or special needs, OR even a change due to an interstate move or an unexpected pregnancy, please take a moment to read this poem. I keep it close to my heart, my bedside table so that I know my journey is just different and I can cope.


Emily Perl Kingsley.

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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.

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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.

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