Monday, November 9, 2009

in a name

How long did it take you to name your child? It took Daniel and I seven days to give Ché his name. We expected a dark little child and I birthed a blonde, blue-eyed, elfin little creature. You can read more about it here.

But sometimes, Daniel still questions whether we got it right. He's a virgo, and a perfectionist, and he considers meanings and namesakes very important matters. When I was pregnant we discussed the concept of 'growth' and 'possibility' in a name. From a little thing, a big thing grows. Seeds, trees, life. All those things. I remember mentioning to Daniel that it's not as if our child is going to introduce himself and then mention a 'sub-heading' that we gave him on his birth certificate. Names don't work like that.

But we agreed that we wanted a name that sounded beautiful, that felt right, that had a meaning that resonated with us. We wanted our child to have a name that we were proud of.

We still talked about tree names and acorns, oaks and seeds but, as you know, we chose Ché. Ché Ché as so many people call him.

On Saturday afternoon while our little one was sleeping, Daniel and I were lying on the bed reading. I was flicking through The Possibility of Everything. The writer, Hope Eldeman, takes her family on holiday to the Central American country of Belize. She talks a lot about the Mayan Indians of that area - mostly their spirituality that still resonates throughout the land. She discusses the plant life of the area, and the Mayan names for each species.

And then she writes Yex che ... the first tree.

In the ancient language of the Mayan Indians, Che means tree.

After two years, such wonderful validation. We gave him that most beautiful 'tree' name.

I still can't believe it.


  1. Aw, that's beautiful!
    how amazing.

  2. That's great! Twas always meant to be.

  3. Very appropriate - what a great story for Che when he gets older as well. Chloe was always Chloe before I became pregnant - it means (simplified) the olive branch - which she is between two opposites (the Mr & I).

  4. How neat ...certainly appropriate!
    I always knew that my first born would carry the name Haven. It seemed safe, secure, and yet full of possibilities. Knowing my daughter over the past 4 years, it totally fits her. She's all about being cozy, making hiding spaces, and basically creating a haven in everything she does.
    As for my son, Ethan, I believe it means strong one.

  5. What a beautiful story. It took me almost 3 weeks to name my daughter after she was born. The names I had thought of did not seem to fit her. In the end I chose Rhianna.

  6. Hi Jody--Someone just sent me a link to your blog because they thought it was a nice and original mention of my book. What a great story you have! Yes, yax che is Mayan for the Ceiba tree, the world tree of Maya mythology. Did you read the part about how my daughter Maya got her name? Crazy coincidence, it was--her name had nothing to do with the Indians, but they wound up being the ones who helped her.

  7. i love moments like that...when things come together & simply make sense. i, too, thought i was going to birth this black haired baby and all of my names i had in the delivery room where really big and bold...and then this little tiny fair haired angel appeared. we named him emmett, right on the spot....a name we liked but it was further down on the this day, i dont think we could have gotten it more right. i - too - believe names are very important. lots of peace and love -j

  8. there is something about tree names, of course we chose Alder for our son. They just come to you from somewhere else.

  9. Ah yes wonderful how we come to get that confirmation sooner or later. I was the *doubter* here second time around but no longer. The name *becomes*.

  10. Such a beautiful story.
    Our son is Isaac, meaning "he who laughs." And, he's been laughing since the day he was born.
    My husband and I never could agree on a boys name...but I "knew" I was having a boy. One day (after a very strong dream) I said to my husband, "What about Isaac?" As someone else just came from "somewhere." We believe he named himself. Sent us a little message via the dreamworld. Such lovely stories for when they are older.