gratitude-a-thon day 346: the joy in acceptance

images-1 Another great parent moment. I want to think that this is how I would react if Jake or Ally came to me and said, “Guess what, wrong body, mom.” I want to believe this is what I would do, (but with a better visual). I think I would. Knowing what I know about me, I am pretty sure I would.

But would I?

No, I would. We just conferred and all of us here in the Toni body agreed, I would. Phew!

The thing is, I don’t think it would be easy. It would take time to adjust to. It’s like a story I remember hearing when I was a new parent. It always stuck with me. I just looked it up on handy dandy google, which rarely fails me (MAN, I LOVE GOOGLE). It’s written by Emily Perl Kingsley and it really pertains to anything you so fervently believe will be one way, but actually turns out another. Here it is:

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 guidebooks 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 some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. 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, 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.”

The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a 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.

Smart, right? Thank you Emily. I have remembered this for almost 20 years (which is amazing because I am beginning to forget my name). I’d like to add to it, that for me, the truth comes down to the overwhelming love I have for my kids. Which means, I don’t think there’s much they could do or be (aside from a murderer, or a Republican) that would make me turn away from them. Here’s to acceptance on a Sunday morning.

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