“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. That is where all my friends are going and that’s where I planned on going too!
There is a famous poem written by a mother about having a child with a disability. She poetically writes about how it is like finding yourself in Holland when you had booked a trip to Italy.
Everyone around you is coming and going from Italy, and you’re ‘stuck’ in Holland. They are all bragging about the wonderful time they had there, the pizza that they ate and all you can say is “Yes, I had also planned to go there. That’s where I was supposed to go, but I ended up in Holland instead. Eventually, you come to love the tulips and the beauty that Holland has to offer.
Having a child with disabilities is not like Holland. Holland has a map. People have been to Holland before. You can ask someone a question on the street, and they will be able to provide you with an answer. Having a child with special needs is like being dropped out of a plane onto an uncharted island. An island with no map.
You spend a lot of time laughing on the island. You spend a lot of time crying on the island. You wish to go back to where you’ve come from, and at the exact same time, you have also fallen deeply in love with this island.
It takes appointments, therapists, doctors, piles of paperwork and countless phone calls to help charter out some sort of map of this island.
Other people pop in to this island, some stare because they cannot fathom the beauty this island has to offer. Some visit and love this island as much as you.
We are so incredibly blessed to have the Friendship Circle of Brooklyn join us on our Island. Not popping in, not waving hi, but staying here with us.
Friendship Circle together with StarDust of Hamaspik, have developed weekly support groups that I am privileged to be a part of. Each group gets together once a month. It is truly like finding other people on this island that sometimes feels deserted. These are moms who get how stressful and different life is with a special needs child. These are moms who have weathered the storms, and these support groups ensure that no one should feel alone.
At the Moms support groups, we face our fears together, we celebrate milestones together, we laugh and we cry and we are each offered support to navigate our way around this island. This is not a destination that any of us moms have chosen, but coming together once a month makes raising a special needs child less lonely and more ‘normal’.
Although we pray for sunnier days, less storms and maybe even an Italian pizza. We love our islands, the community that has formed through the Friendship Circle and our incredible children – our island tour guides.
Written by Devorah Korolitzky @elionthespectrum