Reflecting on Paris and Holland. My deepest desire is to go to Paris. It has been a dream that I have had since I was young. Art is one of my favorite things in the world. I have a deep appreciation for all types of art. My heart belongs to Picasso, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Cassat.
Here I am, trying to explain what I desire and what I was given. I am trying to learn to love where I’m at, even though it is not where I wanted to be. This may not make sense to people who are not walking the path of being a special needs mama. Those are walking it, get it. Holland is not where I wanted to be…but I am learning to love it.
Flying Away to Paris
I can imagine being on a plane (I love to fly) and jetting off into the sunset. My kids and pets are all well taken care of at home. I have my fella and we are off! There is a moment when I’m so excited, I can’t even stand it. I can imagine being even more excited then when I went to Africa *cue heartstrings cause I love Ethiopia.* As we travel, we eat, sleep, watch tv, read, and use the bathroom on this plane. It is our home for however many hours we are on it. We are going to revel in this little getaway.
When I read this poem, Welcome to Holland, it reminded me of a trip that we ARE planning, eventually. My mind began to wander and this is the scenario that I imagined.
In My Glorified Imagination, This is What Happened
We get the overhead notification that we are preparing to descend. Finally, we are there. We have made it, we have arrived. We start to land and as the plane is screeching down the runway to make stop….we hear “WELCOME TO HOLLAND.”
Part 2 Uhm NO, Our Destination is Paris, not Holland.
Uhm, WHAT??????!!!!!!!!!!!! Holland? Uhm, no. No thank you. I know nothing and I do not have an itinerary. Sadly, I do not have a place to stay. I don’t know where to eat. For real, I know nothing. NOTHING. I can picture myself asking the stewardess if this is a layover. How long it will be before we arrive in PARIS, FRANCE. Then, she says that this is our destination.
Our ticket is one way. They will be adding our children/pets, onto the plane, over the course of the trip. This is where we will live out our days until the Lord sees fit to move us somewhere else. I had planned on staying in France for 10 days, not my life. I certainly did not plan on LIVING in Holland and what the heck do you mean, you will bring our kids during the flight?????????
When we started on creating our family….we had definite plans.
Big Daddy wanted 1 child and I wanted 4. We compromised on 3. Our oldest was high strung, motivated, and determined. She is also super sensitive to bright lights, noises, and does not care for lots of people. Our second was a pistol. She was creative, loved animals, told you like it was regardless of if it was appropriate or not. She has a bit of a lazy streak and wanted things done for her more times than not. Our third, our only biological son, was an easy baby until he wasn’t.
He was the first to crawl, he babbled, talked, loved eating and then he had his 12 mths shots….life changed. Maybe that was when we were “packing” to go to Italy. It was like shades pulled down over his eyes and he stopped talking, he threw lots of fights, he had sensory issues…..it was tough. Our life was now full of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. It was hard. The Lord guided us and helped us and allowed me to have a great deal of soaked in knowledge….and today, you would never know anything was ever wrong.
So…Victoria, we started planning the trip. Alyssa, we started saving for the trip. Then, with Noah, we got on that plane and we headed to Paris, France to see all the things we could see in a 10-day trip.
Then….there was God.
As we were flying, God saw fit to allow 2 more kids to join our crew. These kids were older, than came from severe trauma physically, mentally, and emotionally…amongst other trauma and He thought it’d be a good idea to have Big Daddy and me to raise them. It was almost like He threw me into the lion’s den as he did with Daniel. I was totally unprepared. Realistically, I thought I could love the FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder, Behavioral Issues, Dyslexia, Developmental Delays, Food gorging/hoarding/stealing out of them. Sadly, I wanted to fix them. Plain and simple.
While I was “trying” to “fix them”…..God showed up again.
This time, it was a brief detour, on our flight, to Ethiopia. The trip there was ROUGH. It was full of turbulence and engine problems. We thought and we were told we would not make it BUT GOD had other plans. We made it…..instead of a 24 hr flight, it would take us 15 mths to get from where we were (on a plane headed on vacation to Paris) to Ethiopia because He wanted us to add to our dysfunctional crew. He was another older child and he had malnutrition brain, some behavioral issues, and we came to find out that he was deaf in one ear…not a little bit hearing impaired but deaf. Again, I could fix this. I could continue raising all these kids will “fixing” their issues and problems. I was content, tired and overwhelmed but content.
But then……..there was God again.
Several years and tears from our first child to our sixth child…..I was sitting on that plane, wishing to be at our destination so I could have some respite and a time to breathe. God decided to be my breath and to breathe for me…He did this in the form of our seventh child….our Zebra.
I thought the stress of trying to fix my FASD, RAD, ADHD, PTSD, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities, Deafness, Autistic tendencies, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, blah blah blah was going to bring me to my knees…..oh, heck no….this little dude came into my life and turned it upside down. He has taught me so much and he has given me such joy but he also went from a normal little boy to a medically fragile kid in about 4 hrs. Please hear me say…..I would not change a thing with this little guy. He brings us such joy and happiness….even in the midst of uncertainty with his health.
Part 3: Welcome Home.
Part 3 Welcome Home. My flesh screams and I’m hanging onto the armrests of my airplane seat. I refuse to move. This is my anniversary. This is our planned TRIP. We are not moving. I do not want to stay. Honestly, I would live in France, if I had too, but guess what? I don’t have too. We are traveling, that’s it. No more, no less. I sit there, stunned. Unable to move or comprehend what all I’m about to see/smell/witness in this country I have never planned to go too.
What I Envision Versus Reality
The door of the plane opens…we grab our luggage that is packed for France….and we get off the plane. My first thought is the drabness of the airport. The busyness of it. I felt like I needed to wash my hands because so many people were touching me. They were all speaking in different languages. I found myself watching their mouths move, trying to read lips or get a nugget of information, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t understand any person or sign. There was also not a single person who spoke English. I felt trapped in this foreign country. There was nowhere, no one to guide me, no vehicle, no home, no food, nothing.
I picture us grabbing our stuff and trying to find our way out of that blasted, loud, big, busy airport. There was a moment when I needed air. Sadly, I was overstimulated by the news and anxious because this was completely out of our control. Air, I needed to breathe fresh air and take a moment to regroup. I was thrown into something that was not of my doing. There were two choices, I could either curl up in a ball and sob or I could find a way through the fear and uncertainty.
Ray of Sunshine
As I processed this news, I felt a ray of sunshine hit my face. I felt a cool breeze as we walked outside. In one moment, I opened my eyes and from as far as the east is from the west, there were tulips. I love tulips. Honestly, I love the beauty of them, the array of colors, the smells. Tulips come up every single year without fail. Far off, in the distance, I saw windmills. The most gorgeous background, I have ever seen in my life.
Absorbing my Surroundings
As we walk around, absorbing our surroundings, we think about Paris and what we will miss. The art, the food, the atmosphere……all of our plans, all the cool things we would see….we had to mourn that because we knew, we were “stuck” in Holland. Don’t get me wrong, Holland is phenomenally gorgeous, it is just where I wanted to be. I don’t mind a visit, but why must we live there. We had to mourn not seeing our family, our home, American food, the freedoms we had in America. There was just a lot to process.
Once our mourning time was done and we settled into this new life….this new place with all these new sites, new foods, noises, smells. We began to acclimate to our surroundings and we began to learn about the cultures and the foods.
Holland and Its Beauty
Holland has its own beauty, but it was not what we had originally planned for. We had to learn to adapt and compensate for the things that we wanted to see in Paris and what we wanted from home. It wasn’t bad…just different. It was a change and I’m not one to like change.
I had to learn that I could not “fix” my children…only God could and will do that. I had to learn to let go of control of what was and begin to love what is. By mourning, so deeply, the loss of what was going to be a 10-day vacation to Paris, I was losing out on what was surrounding me.
Seeing Things from a Different Perspective
New colors, new foods, new scenery…..I began to love my new home and by loving it, I began to change. Ironically, I began seeking God more and seeking help for my depression. Also, I learned that FASD, RAD, Deafness, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome does not define my children. Finally, I learned how to love again…I learned how to love my God, my husband, and my children for who they were and not what I “envisioned” them to be.
Be open to change. Be open to new things. Stop trying to fix things. Stop trying to control what you are not meant to control.
Live life and love without abandon.