I'm Sophie, married to Simon and mum to Jeremiah (10), Isaac (8), Malachi (5), Ezekiel (3) and Zechariah (2). Also our 2 little ones in heaven, Eleanor (2005) and Elisha (2011).
Jeremiah has Autism.
Isaac has hypermobility syndrome/Ehlers Danlos type 3 and uses a wheelchair for anything other than very short distances.
Malachi has hypermobility and wears piedro boots to support his ankles
Ezekiel has a cleft palate, hydrocephalus, hypotonia and development delay
Zechariah was born with sepsis and has mild development delay.
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Welcome to Holland
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.
Like many other parents of children with special needs I think it's a nice story when told by someone else who has also ended up in Holland but incredibly insensitive when written on a postcard from Italy. There are a few songs, stories and poems like this around, some of which I like and some of which I don't.
I really don't like the ones that paint an unrealistic picture of children with special needs. Children who have physical disabilities are mostly like any other child except they have certain limitations. Isaac isn't a saint like being who smiles at old ladies and generally looks ill. He is determined and fiesty. He says "mummy, can I have ....?" at various things while going round the shops. In many ways he is like any other 4 year old.
Of course in many other ways he is different from other 4 year olds and we have really been feeling it since he started school. He is doing 3 mornings at school this week and already he is struggling and it's only Tuesday. He's not settling very well either but that could be partly to do with his part time hours.