Spoons in Holland

When you have a disability, it’s often so hard to describe it. Mine are what they call “invisible disabilities”. With the blindness, unless I’m moving around with my cane or searching around the dinner table, it’s not easily noticeable. The MS is next to impossible to tell I’m sick. I talk a lot about spoons, and I know I’ve linked The Spoon Theory before, but there it is again, in case you missed it. (Screen reader users, that link is to a pdf that loads automatically for Alex, so hopefully it works)

This morning I received another cool description on one of my email lists. This one is talking about having a child with a disability, but it can easily be thought of as a good description for me and my MS and blindness, or any disability. So here is the passage from the email:



by Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

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.


I really like that. Sure, when I was 27 and younger, my dreams were about the figurative Italy. I was young and healthy and had just gotten sober and life was incredible. Then at 27, the diagnosis of MS came with the loss of vision in my right eye, and I was on my way to the figurative Holland, kicking and screaming.

Then I started adjusting to Holland and understanding how to ration my spoons and thought about going back to Italy once again, when, at 29, the left eye went blind too. There I was, stuck in Holland, really kicking and screaming this time, having a harder time rationing spoons since learning how to be blind took them all much faster. I hated Holland. I was supposed to be in Italy.

But as time went by, I started to like Holland a little. I got to learn so much, and started meeting really cool people I never would have met in Italy.

Now I love Holland. It’s sure different then what I had planned, but it sure is cool in oh so many ways. Are there times I wish I were in Italy? Sure. Are there times I hope I might get to Italy? Sure. But just for today, I can accept that Holland is where I’m supposed to be.

I’m also part dutch, so maybe that helps 😉


Filed under Adjustment to blindness, faith, screen reader, sobriety, spoons, white cane

15 Responses to Spoons in Holland

  1. I always liked that Holland piece. And Steve’s part Dutch too. Freaky huh?

  2. Ro

    Oh wow! Ask him if he has ever eaten worstebroaches. I have no idea if I spelled that right.

  3. He says he thinks so if they’re what he thinks they are.

  4. Ro

    Oh they are soooo good. It’s seasoned beef in a pastry type thing. Kinda like a pig in a blanket I guess, but incredibly good. My grandma used to make them, and they were even good just cold out of the fridge. Man, now I want them. Grandma and I were just talking about them a few weeks ago, wishing we had the energy to make them.

  5. Mmm. I wonder if the Dutch store sells something like them. I know they wouldn’t be as good as homemade, but…mmm! I wanna taste ’em!

  6. Ro

    Oh! You have a Dutch store? I wonder if we have a Dutch store. Hmmm…

  7. When I was growing up, my best friend’s family was in a car accident, and it left her brother with some disabilities. They always had this poem on their fridge and I remember reading it many times.

  8. You just might. I didn’t even know it existed until one day Steve’s mom said “We were just in the Dutch store.” “The what?” “Yeah, the Dutch store right down the street from the fountain and where all the buses come in.” “Are you serious? It’s right by the buses and I never found it?”

    The lady there’s so funny. She thinks she knows every single person who has ever shopped there. I was trying to pronounce a word, and was apparently killing it, and I said I was sent to get it. She says “By who? Maybe I’d know what you’re looking for?” I just giggled. We did find it eventually.

  9. I love this Ro, is that all of the email? If you wouldn’t mind forwarding it to me I have some people I would love to share it with.

  10. I’ve always liked that one and the Spoon Theory. It’s funny at this point even my mum likes the Spoon one for telling people when I’m having a bad day. She’ll just randomly tell someone “Katrin doesn’t have enough spoons for that right now” and leave it at that as if the other person understands what on earth she is referring to. It’s pretty funny.

  11. Ro

    Carin, maybe your dudtch store would know where my dutch store would be hahaha!

    Natalie, comment me with your email again and I won’t publish it. Can’t remember if I have it. What I posted here was all I was sent.

    Katrin hehehe I’ve got all my friends saying spoons too. The other day a woman on my techie email list said she didn’t have enough spoons and I had to email her. She was happy that I knew it, and it was like an instant bond haha!

  12. Then there are people who made it to Italy and thought, “What’s so great about Italy?” So they visit Holland and fall in love with the tulip fields and windmills and they think, “If I ever make it back to Italy, maybe I’ll do some sight-seeing instead of sitting around at home all the time.” lol

  13. I’ve totally eaten those things, they’re good. I’m not sure what their exact name is so I can’t tell you if you spelled it right though.

  14. Ro

    Stormcrow, right you are haha!!

    Steve, oh they are soo soooo gooooood!

  15. I was just thinking of the Holland story the other day — thanks for sharing. I have always liked it – I also appreciated the spoon story. I want to share that with a client. THANK YOU!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.