As soon as you announce that a new baby has arrived and it’s a boy/girl, one question immediately follows:
What’s the name?
We ask the question even before we ask about baby’s stats (height/weight/length?) or current status (mom & baby doing well?) or arrival details (how did labor go?). We like to react to the choice of a name, and we love to hear stories behind their selection.
We know names matter.
So when it came time to share our new baby’s name with family and friends, I thought back to a chapter in my book where I write about names and calling. How the gift of a child’s name can call them forth into a hope, a faith, a dream of what they might become.
Whether named after a beloved relative or a famous leader or a biblical figure, a child who is blessed with a story behind their name can carry their story with them as they grow.
Since I started blogging 4 years (!) ago, I’ve always held back on sharing my children’s names here. For all the usual internet concerns about privacy and protection, sure. And also my heightened awareness of the tension between writing from the perspective of a mother and knowing my children’s stories are rightfully their own.
Keeping their names to myself seemed like the safer way to go.
But as I’ve been finishing final edits on the book (!!) – in which I not only used their real names, but shared the stories of their naming – I realized that it was time to loosen my clutch. Their wonderful names will soon be out into the world in a new way, and this chance to tell the stories of the early years as their mother is a gift I’ve been given to share.
So without further ado, today I introduce to you not just one, but three boys…
When we were expecting after infertility, our heads and hearts were still full of the longing and pain of that waiting. Hannah’s story meant much to us then: her stubborn cry for the child of her heart, her refusal to keep quiet when she knew that God would listen, her song of joy that rang out when her prayer was answered. So we settled on our boy’s name pretty quickly, knowing “for this child we had prayed.”
(Plus, I still swear I’ve never met a Sam I didn’t like.)
Samuel. A name of hope.
. . .
After the first blurry year of new parenthood had miraculously passed, we started daring to wonder if we might be able to try for #2. Infertility strips you bare of any illusions about ease and control when it comes to family planning, but we knew we’d been graced with a gift before, so we felt brave enough to try again. Lo and behold, we were one of the lucky ones for whom it was much easier the second time around.
When we chose a boy’s name, we wanted a name that resonated with the deep faith we felt had brought us to this moment of welcoming another child into our lives. So we gave him a name with echoes of scholars and saints, and the strongest apostle in the bunch (in my opinion) – the one who dared to voice his doubt as proof of his belief.
Thomas. A name of faith.
. . .
This time we knew he was a boy, so we had fun playing with boys’ names from the beginning. But we’d also named ourselves into a corner, so to speak, having started a trend of Strong Catholic Saints’ Names That Are Easily Nicknamed And Also Sound Like Linebackers To Be Feared When Paired With A Strong Italian Last Name. Thus somewhat limiting our field of options for sweet baby boy.
In the end, there was one name that we kept coming back to throughout the year we waited for him to arrive.
The weeks I spent rewriting this curriculum, searching for Scripture stories of calling and pausing every time I read about the two Josephs called by dreams, in Genesis and the Gospels.
The months when his older brother were obsessed with the Technicolor Dreamcoat soundtrack and we listened to GO-GO-GO-JOSEPH! for hours on end on the old stereo in the living room.
The Advent season at our parish (whose namesake of the saintly worker inspired us, too) when one of our pastors preached about how Joseph always headed straight into whatever mess to which God called him.
It was the perfect name for the baby whose coming felt all the more like gift after loss. Whose arrival I dreamed of whenever fears grew too strong.
Joseph. A name of dreams.
So there you have it – three sons, three stories, three names. It’s a joy to share them here. How about you and yours?
How has the story of your naming shaped you?
How did you choose your children’s names?