Welcome to Holland

I’ve had a rocky relationship with this well-known bit of writing. It has comforted me and it has angered me. I actually took a great deal of comfort in it in the first few dark days when I was in such shock. I needed some sort of hope that it would all turn out OK because I couldn’t see any possibility of that on my own. Then, once reality started settling, it made me angry as hell. My whole life got blown to hell and you’re telling me it’s just a detour and I’LL GET OVER IT??? That I’ll find JOY in it, you dumb @ss @#$&@^#*&?

I’m back to a place of taking comfort in it because, guess what? The author has lived this life and she actually knew something I couldn’t know back then. It does get better. You can find an appreciation for this unexpected detour. You can make great discoveries, the biggest for me, was the discovery of true joy in this life. I’m not saying this to cheer anyone up or provide encouragement to new families, you’ll walk your own road and I hope some day you’ll get here too, I’m saying it because it has been true for me.

But it’s not all beauty and discovery and I feel like the original didn’t fully recognize the pain and heartbreak of Holland. I saw this blog entry shared on Facebook today and I think it’s a nice addition to the Welcome to Holland essay:

My Holland from A Diary of a Mom.

For my Italian friends … The following is based on the beautiful essay, Welcome to Holland, by Emily Perl Kingsley.

There are the days that I wouldn’t trade Holland for the world

The days that I stand in awe of the windmills’ quaint majesty

And marvel at the overwhelming beauty of the tulip fields

There are the days that I scoff at Italy

The days that I feel downright sorry for those who have never been to Holland

Never wondered at the beauty created by Rembrandt’s brush

What they are missing here, I tell myself

Poor souls!

How much richer they’d be for a visit someday

For a walk in these wooden shoes


And then there are the days that I look more closely at the Dutch landscape

The days that I see past the tulip fields to the mothers wringing their hands, waiting – always waiting

The days that I see the doctors – the specialists and therapists – everywhere it seems, filling the streets, doffing their caps as they move from one house to the next – an endless conveyor belt of service and need

There are the days that I see the siblings, struggling with dual citizenship in two dramatically different nations – neither of which they can fully claim as their own

There are the days that I can no longer smell the fragrance of the flowers for the stench of desperation and fear

The days that I send my girls off on the train, backpacks full with supplies for their daily trip to Italy

Knowing that only one of them speaks a word of Italian

Relying on a host of translators and guides to keep my youngest safe on such desperately foreign soil

There are the days that my heart simply breaks because I can’t make the whole world speak Dutch

There are the days that I watch the planes flying in – filled with mothers clutching their children, looking out the window, ready to point to the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum – knowing they’ll find out soon enough, that’s not where they are

There are the days when I wonder if my girl even notices the windmills, or the tulips – if she knows there are Rembrandts here

Or if she simply wishes that she were in Rome


There are the days that I see my Holland for what it really is

A breathtakingly beautiful place

A place full of love and compassion

Freedom and camaraderie

And a place where children hurt and mothers’ hearts ache with the impotence of not being able to make it better

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