Our Five Ring Circus: Holland Tour Guide

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Holland Tour Guide

Just a few hours after Liam was born, I received an email from a dear friend.  In that email, she included a popular essay about children with special needs called "Welcome to Holland." 

At that time, only a few people knew about Liam's suspected birth diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Whether or not he had Down Syndrome was a highly debated topic in the hospital.  Half of the doctors thought he had Down Syndrome, and the other half disagreed.  I knew, deep in my heart, that he did.

I was in a very dark and lonely place when that email arrived.  The room was completely silent, and my husband and I were lost in our grief. Grant was relentlessly surfing the internet for information, my tears wouldn't stop falling,  nobody would answer our questions, and hours had gone by since we last saw our baby. We were in a state of shock, mourning, and disbelief.

As I read through the essay, tears streamed down my cheeks.  I wanted to scream, "I DON'T WANT TO BE IN HOLLAND!!! I didn't ASK to go to Holland! I want to be in Italy with everyone else!"


I am forever grateful that my acceptance of "Holland" began just hours later, with my baby finally in my arms.

So much has changed since that dark and lonely night.  I still cry when I read "Welcome to Holland."  But my tears have changed, too.

I cry because "Holland" is beautiful.  I cry because "Holland" taught me more in 20 short months than I learned in an entire lifetime.  I cry because "Holland" is a place I never want to leave.  I cry because "Holland" filled our lives in ways we never imagined. I cry because "Holland" is VERY much like Italy. I cry because not many people give "Holland" a chance.

I cry because given the choice, I would choose "Holland" over and over and over again.  A million times again.


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 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.

{c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.}

I am so honored that I was chosen to tour "Holland." I am so thankful for the most beautiful tour guide. "Holland" is a place I never thought I would want to go. It was the unknown.  It was a mystery to me.  But it's a place that I've grown to love so very much. "Holland" is every bit as beautiful as Italy. It's a place that holds so much love, grace, beauty, and joy.   It's a place that draws you in.  If you just give it a chance, you will understand...

Holland, you have my heart!


*Liam's awesome shirt is from Littlest Warrior Apparel, his moccasins are from Jaxhoo, and his bow tie is from Lolly Lu Designs.


  1. That was absolutely beautiful! What an amazing friend, poem and gift you have in Liam!

  2. That essay was sent to me many times as well. And although it took me longer to accept Holland than you, I'm very very happy here. There are some pretty awesome people in Holland! :)

  3. Amazing and beautiful! You were hand picked to be Liam's mom - he is adorable and the cutest little tour guide ever! I think everyone needs to give Holland a chance!

  4. That was beautiful, so happy you were chosen to "go to Holland" it couldn't have happened to a better family!

  5. That was beautiful, so happy you were chosen to "go to Holland" it couldn't have happened to a better family!

  6. I have never heard that poem until today. What an amazing friend you have! Your family values shine through every post, it's the reason I love following your blog! God Bless you & your family.

    P.S. Mr. Liam is extra adorable!

  7. My only tour guide in life I need. He has such and infectious smile! Thank You so much for sharing your family with everyone. We all learn so much from you. :)


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