Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oct 25th, 2011: Holland Revisited

Most of us are familiar with the poem "Welcome To Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley.  Being from there, I have been asked about my opinion about this poem.  It also recently came up in a discussion during a class I took part in, many shared their thoughts about it and it turns out most have some (different) issues with it.  My first intruduction to this poem was when I was 2 weeks from having Annelies.  It was mentioned on TV, I do not remember the context.  I remember thinking at the time:  "Fabulous.  My ex-country is being compared with a disability.  Fitting."  (I have always been self-conscious of being from Holland.  It is not that interesting of a place to most Americans.  Being from France or Spain would have been so much cooler.  My accent would have been waaaay cooler, too.  The Dutch accent, like the language, sounds harsh.  Not sexy at all!)  Also, when I answered the question "Where are you from?" the responses varied from: "Oh, Holland, ...

-is that in Amsterdam? 
-do they speak Danish there?  Or German? 
-did you live in a windmill?
-does everyone wear wooden shoes there??
-I just ADORE scandinavian countries!
-I have been to Sweden...(Denmark...Germany...)
-I have an aunt from there, do you know her?  Her name is van den something...
-is that near the Netherlands (I find this a valid question actually.  It is confusing!  the Netherlands is the appropriate geographical name for the country, but it is often referred to as Holland by its people, those abroad, and rabid soccer fans.  Holland is the name of 2 of its provinces (North - and South Holland). "Hol" literally means "Hallow", a lot if the country is below sea level.  Oh, that reminds me of another one:
-are there a lot of dykes in Holland?  (the big shiteating grin on that person's face made me realize he was NOT talking about the fantastic reclamation technologies that do exist over there)
-Oh, Holland...Yeah, I have had a Danish before...heh heh... (this from a drunk dude at a bar).
(Now, American friends, before you think I am making fun of you, there are sooo many funny things the Dutch say about the U.S.!!)

But a few times, I received something that went like this:  "I went on a cruise/tour vacation to Europe, and was soooo looking forward to France and Italy, but HOLLAND TURNED OUT TO BE MY FAVORITE!  I had NOT expected that!  I want to go back just to Holland and see more of it!"

And it is that reaction I have to think about when I read the poem.  I wonder if E.P.K. had been to Europe, or at least had a good idea of what people's perception was about Holland.  So that part, I choose to see that way, simply because I, like many parents I know would not have things any other way!   For us, Holland turned out to be an unexpected but perfectly pleasant surprise!  One we like better than whatever our fantasies of Italy were.  One we want to share with the world and say: It is ALL GOOD, we are in a good place!

E.P.K does talk about the pain that never goes away.  For me, it is not pain.  It is realization and awareness, and neither of those are bad things I am actually happy to have gained!  The only painful thing to me is when I try to think about "B.A." (Before Annelies), if I offended anyone with my naivete!   (So, since I have a captive audience of about one on this blog -heh heh-, I would like to take a moment and shout out that any dumb comments I may have made back then came from a place of ignorance, not unacceptance.)  That makes me cringe if I dwell on it too long.  But I don't, and I try to never forget this so that I can appoach people with some kind of grace, even if insensitive, cringeworthy comments are made.

And all those people who are bragging about Italy (or, their 'typical' kids), well, they are just proud parents like I am!  Because they are proud of their kids does not mean they want to rub something in (there are some exceptions, unfortunately, that I have heard of but not yet experienced.)

So I guess I am back...Funny how life goes, isn't it? 


  1. I love this post. I've never been a lover of the poem, but I'm not one of those that dislike it either. I never felt any grief over my daughter's birth and I am so proud of all three of my girls regardless of their chromosomal status. I like how you think it is fitting while coming from Holland yourself.