Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Enjoying Holland

A friend of mine brought it to my attention that I haven't blogged in a very long time. It's not that I don't have anything to write about. That's far from the truth. Maybe it's just that I have so many thoughts that I get lost in them and can't find my way out. There have been so many things happen in the world that I am very passionate about. Most important is the one change that has happened in my own little world, the one under my roof.
My youngest son, Nick, is autistic.

We found this out a little over a year ago and the last year has been a constant learning experience. I will not lie to you, the first week or so was rough. I cried a lot. I had lots of questions, most of which started with "why me?", "why us?", and "why him?".

"Why me?" "Why us?"
After all these years of trying so hard to have another child, all the babies I lost and all the years of infertility. Why can't I just enjoy the last and final child I will have in this lifetime and not have it be a struggle. I'm too old for this. I can't do this. WE can't do this. Where do we start? What do we do?

"Why him?"
I finally have my miracle baby. The one that survived when all the other angel siblings did not. I was sure he was destined for greatness. I just knew he was the golden child. Now we find out he's autistic. His life is a struggle and he doesn't know it. Why him? Why can't he be "normal"?

I was stuck on the idea of "normal". I wanted a child that was "normal". I have since learned that no one is "normal". I mean really, we are all a little screwed up in our own way. I have accepted that Nick IS normal. He is normal for NICK. I accept my son for who he is and I enjoy his little quirks.

When I was in the deepest of my depression about his diagnosis, I happened upon this post on a website about autism. I read it and was amazed as I read it through teary eyes that it made me feel better.

Welcome to Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

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 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 guidebooks. 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.

Maybe he is still my golden child. Maybe he is destined for greatness. He is my tulip, my windmill and my Rembrandt. I have decided to enjoy Holland.