The following story was given to Sam and me when we volunteered to be ski instructors last winter for children who were developmentally disabled. While it was written for parents of children with disabilities, the story’s message might resonate with parents of children who are gender diverse as well – I know it did for us.
Welcome To Holland
When you’re going to have a baby, it is like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Colosseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It is 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 and the flight attendant says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean, Holland? I thought I was going to Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All of 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, place. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. 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. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is 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 might think, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
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.
– author unknown
While we were taught early on in life that, “…it’s what’s inside that counts,” I don’t think we really learned that lesson until we had Sam. Once we let go of what society told us our child should be, we were able to celebrate, admire and respect Sam for who he is – a person whose kindness and maturity (just to name two of the many attributes this child of ours possesses for which gender does not matter) would make any parent proud.