Grief comes in many forms and sizes. There’s big grief when you lose a loved one, discover you have an incurable illness, or your entire home is washed away in a hurricane. Small grief can happen when you lose a part of your identity – when you are no longer working at a job, or you move away from friends and family. Small grief also can hit you when you let go of a hope or dream.
This year I’ve been grieving. Shaman Guy’s mom, Junebug, died over a year ago, but it wasn’t until this summer that I realized how much I missed her unconditional love and sage, steady way. My parents sold my childhood home, and although I’ve lived on my own more than I did there and thought I didn’t really care about the house, I discovered that a nice chunk of my identity was tied up in the image of having a familial homestead and foundation. I mourned that loss too.
The most surprising grief for me has been for someone who never was. Shaman Guy have been dancing around the idea of having another baby. Today, I gave away the rest of Shaman Boy’s baby furniture, carriage, and clothes. Bye bye baby dream.
What shocks me about this grief is that I never really wanted a second child. We never tried to have another one. And there were no miscarriages or maybes.
Pre-Shaman Boy, I never wanted a first child. I grew up hearing, “We don’t do marriage and we don’t do babies.” What we did do was set goals, achieve, and strive to be a successful businesswoman. Although I loved children and had spent a few years as a school teacher, I never wanted to take one home and deal with them 24/7.
Then I took a trip to Teotihuacan, the pyramids outside Mexico City. While co-leading a woman’s retreat, I asked the question, “Do I want a child?” The question, let alone the answer surprised me. When it popped out of my mouth during a ceremony, I was shocked. It wasn’t something that was on my (conscious) mind. And quite frankly, I was scared of what the answer might be.
The answer came in “signs of power.” For the first time on my countless trips to Teo, there were children everywhere, swarming over the pyramids. After releasing old beliefs about my upbringing and then being ceremonially cleansed and washed, a little girl came toddling up to me. We were in a remote part of the complex, underground. No parents were anywhere to be seen. She stared at me and I at her while everyone’s mouth hung open. She seemed so out of context, and so young to be on her own, that we wondered if she was a vision. After several minutes which seemed like eternity, her parents did nervously reclaim her. My question had been answered.
I returned from my trip and informed Shaman Guy that I was ready to have a baby. Two weeks later we were in Ireland, both of our ancestral homeland, leading another retreat at a shamanic healing center. One night we held a fire ceremony and Shaman Guy built a bonfire from wooden pallets that leapt a good twenty feet in the air. After the ceremony was over and the participants returned to their lodging, we decided to spend the night sleeping under the stars next to the fire.
Let’s just say it was one HOT night, with many signs, power, and visions. That night we called in Shaman Boy, became pregnant, and I shifted from maiden to mother. Like all expectants parents, we dreamt about whether our little “Thumper” was going to be a boy or girl. If it was a boy, it’d be blonde haired and blue-eyed, just like Shaman Guy. A girl would certainly have dark, curly ringlets like me. We picked out names for both and waited to see.
Days Pregnant in Ireland
Shaman Boy was birthed nine months later, at home, in our bed. I adored him and was surprised at how naturally and with so much pleasure the once-reluctant mother became a mama.
Shaman Guy and I would periodically talk about number two. We’d see adorable little girls and want one to dress and hold and admire. Yet there never were any signs of power. We were preoccupied with raising Shaman Boy and running businesses and writing books and living life. Suddenly Shaman Boy was 3, 4, 5 years old and no signs of power. Shaman Boy has a big brother Kai (from another mother) and his live-with-us girlfriend Wren so he’s not an only child, even if Kai and Wren are closer to a second set of parents with their age difference.
I shed quite a few tears over “do I or don’t I?” Yet when I got real quiet and real real with myself, I couldn’t picture splitting my attention with two children. I’m ready to focus my attention on my creative endeavors now that Shaman Boy is more self-sufficient at the big boy age of five.
Still, a little piece of me had to grieve for my dark-haired lassie that didn’t quite make it into form.
Téa Irelyn, you are a beautiful dream child. Thank you for playing with me. I love you. And I’m sorry. Not this lifetime. We’re one and done.