then please do not welcome us to Holland
for you know nothing of the turbulence
as we touch down
unpleasantly surprised, nauseous
and abjectly alive.
If you have never been
do not romanticize Rembrandt’s portraits
or ignore the etchings of a storm
do not describe your garden lined with tulips
while imagining what I mourn.
You have never been, so listen
bow your head
but do not avert your eyes
from this unflinching snuggle
as we learn to sing new lullabies.
A note about this poem: This poem should be read alongside the wonderful writing by Emily Perk Kingsley called “Welcome to Holland,” crafted to explain to others what it is like to be a parent with a child with disability. Emily’s words helped validate many of the emotions I have felt as I wrestle with this unplanned departure from the parenting journey my husband and I had imagined. We are coming up on a year since diagnosis, and while I am embracing this new world as best I can, I’m still angry, still grieving, still learning how to find strength every day.