The Legend of the Whispering Wind

William Shakespeare once asked us to consider this question, what is in a name? Shakespeare would argue that a name is just a word, and only we have the power to grant it meaning. However, if you ask any expectant mother the same question you might find she feels quite the opposite. Choosing just the right name for your child requires a great deal of deliberation.

Even more, unless you have a written or verbal agreement with your spouse to the contrary; you just might find name selection is one of the most challenging exercises in compromise that you could arguably ever face together as parents.

The creation of a potential names short list is harder than one might initially expect. Certainly, there’s no quicker way to become aware of all of your spouse’s former nemeses, past relationships, or odd family members than for you to start suggesting options.

Granted there are some free spirits that walk amongst us, who channel gypsies, and select names for their offspring {insert gasp} based solely on the fact that they just like a name. I am not one of those people. If I’m being completely honest……those people make me a little bit nervous.

I have to research the entire etymology of each name I consider. To me, an ill-chosen name has the power to haunt me for decades, as I sign obligatory holiday cards or thank you notes thousands of times over.

It’s important to note that I was born with the name…..Summer Friend. Therefore, I think it’s safe to say I experienced first hand the power of a genuinely unique name. I loved my name. Kids were never weird about my name, in great part, I think because I simply owned it.

It wasn’t until college that the full magic of my name came to light. Classmates collectively referred to me as “Summer-Friend”, as if it were some kind of hyphenated uni-word. Based on the fervor with which they would call my name from yards away, I can only surmise they received some kind of endorphin-infused energy boost by the mere mention of my name.

Equally important to note is that I married a man with the last name of Smith. By most arguable standards, my husband does not possess a distinctive name. His name is an amalgamation of his father’s and a grandfather’s names, and for that reason….meaningful to those who bestowed it upon him, but potentially not a great name for making dinner reservations under…..for fear someone with the same name might inadvertently take your spot. {The struggle is real.}

So, when it came to naming our children, the Hubs was fully supportive of my “lets pick names….that tell stories” approach. {I know….even my children’s names need to tell a story….it’s a whole thing with me people.}

I once heard of a Native American legend that claimed a baby’s name is whispered into the wind, and that it’s up to their parents to hear it. In my mind, each child is a new character in your family’s story….and so the story teller in me honestly loved that mythical idea.

For my family, the first character to make an appearance was the Boy. The Boy’s name was selected from a list of Knights of the Round Table, and as the first male grandchild his middle name pays tribute to my father. His name is strong. His name is a Celtic-Viking fusion, and roughly translated it means the conquering white hawk of battle. I insisted a man-child granted such a name, also needed to possess a knight-themed nursery.

You may or may not be surprised to discover this, but talons, swords, and metal tipped arrows are not popular Babies ‘R Us items. My dream room theme was harder to achieve at first than I had envisioned. I was so committed to the theme though; that I drug the Hubs to two rather unconventional destinations in order to acquire the very specific items on my wish list.

The first was to a small coastal town on the southern tip of England. The town is called Tintagel, and it is the legendary site of the famed tales of Camelot. We spent a glorious weekend there visiting the little shops and bookstores. What a perfect place to locate treasures for a young squire…or so I convinced my husband. The highlight for me was when we hiked the large hill, to walk amongst the ghosts of legends, and explore the castle ruins. The view from that hill was nothing short of breathtaking. I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks below me, and for just a moment…thought I may have heard a voice in the wind.

Shortly after that adventure, I then convinced the man to take me to a renaissance fair in Pennsylvania. Our destination was nestled in the heart of Amish country, and we located some one-of-a-kind items for the nursury. If you didn’t know this about me before, I think its clear to say….I am a huge fan of themed rooms. The Boy’s room literally oozed with the spirit of Camelot by the time the last shield was hung.

Since I had essentially selected the criterion for the Boy’s name, the Hubs stated that he should be allowed to take the lead on the selection of the Blonde’s name. I agreed. The minute the ultrasound revealed we were having a girl, the Hubs confidently burst out with, “Already, have a name.” Boy, that was fast, I thought. The potentially painstaking process took him less than five minutes.

The Blonde’s name is taken from one of George R. R. Martin’s principle Game of Thrones characters thus giving her uniquely spelled name an equally literary origin as her brother. Along with a middle name which reflects my husband’s Greek lineage, and pays tribute to one of history’s most successful military commanders, her name carries a commanding presence.

The Blonde’s translated name means pure protector. This name could honestly not describe her any better. Always looking beyond the darkness, with a purity that allows her to seek out even the smallest beams of light in her watch care of others.

I’ll be honest, when I discovered I was expecting a third baby….I panicked. We had invested so much creative energy into coming up with a singular boy and a singular girl name. I wasn’t sure we could make lightening strike again, and I disliked the thought of recycling a name from one of the previous shortlists.

In our contemplation of a name for the Brunette, we dove into the lore of Greek Mythology. Named for a goddess who brings life and prosperity; we coupled her name with a flower that means joy and great happiness. I was stunned how even from the earliest of days it was evident that her name literally captured her soul.

The Brunette loves to exist in nature. Animals are drawn to her spirit. When you watch her move, her tiny body is brimming with so much energy that it almost cannot be contained. This phenomenon causes her little pixie frame to appear as if were hovering just above the ground everywhere she goes. Perhaps best of all, if you listen closely as she passes by, I think it’s safe to say you can hear the faintest flutter….of fairy wings.

With the revelation of our fourth pregnancy, I was beside myself was indecision. I didn’t feel any of the potential baby names were calling to me. Coupled with the fact that the Hubs had granted me power of veto on this last child’s name….. with but one stipulation. My shortlist could not contain one of the top 1000 baby names. What?!? The already challenging process of having to select yet another girl name just went from feeling hard….to utterly daunting.

One evening, the Hubs could see I was clearly drowning in my self-inflicted baby naming conundrum. Ever so slowly, the man looked up from his smart phone, and said, “I don’t know why you are so stressed about this. I had a dream, and I already know her name.”

I was instantly defensive. Hours of my life had been dedicated to this project. Wasn’t he the one who had set up this ridiculous expectation for uber-creativity, and now he was trying to swoop in at the eleventh hour and save the day? I was not impressed. I was already prepared to give the name a dismissive shrug once I heard it…until he said it out loud. My mouth fell open. It….was….perfect.

The Baby’s name is the Hebrew word for celestial brightness, and it truly captures her spirit. She is the child who lives every moment to the fullest. She laughs big, and doesn’t possess an “inside voice” which the Hubs would like me to note…..she inherited entirely from me. She radiates with energy, and when she smiles…. it’s with her whole body!

Her middle name has sentimental meaning to me, as it pays honor to a cherished childhood tree found in my grandmother’s backyard. Summer days were filled with wonderment as I swung upon its willowing branches, almost certain I could capture the light that danced through the leaves. That tree was a fountainhead of my imagination, and the birthplace of many of my earliest stories.

After holding each of my children in my arms, I was amazed to discover that my heart instantly embraced the name my mind had selected for them. In a matter of seconds, I could almost not remember a time when that particular little person was not a part of our family’s story. The seemingly limitless capacity of a mother’s heart is perhaps one of the most extraordinary things to me about motherhood.

Some of our children’s names pay tribute to literary characters, some have historical significance, some honor relatives, some reflect lineage, some remember places, some speak to nature, some reflect emotions, some rhythmically begin with the same letter, some could come to us in dreams, and some might possibly have been whispered into the wind.

I think I’m going to have disagree with Shakespeare….at least on this point…..and claim there is actually something quite beautiful and significant found in a name. I think names….. just might be the shortest love sonnet ever written.

This is dedicated to my children…..for the words they have brought to my story, and for chapters we have yet to live. In the beautiful words of e.e.cummings, “here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here’s the root of the root and bud of the bud and sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart).” 

Photo credit Tintagel Castle, Cromwell UK

Author: Summer Smith

Summer Smith is a speaker, writer, and motherhood blogger. She and her family are currently navigating the suburbs of Northern Virginia. As the mother to four young children, Summer maintains her sanity thanks to her sense of humor, copious amounts of coffee, and Amazon Prime. Maya Angelou once said, when reflecting on her childhood, that her mother left an impression like technicolor stars in the midnight sky. Influenced by these words, Summer blogs at her website Motherhood in Technicolor, and can also be found on her Motherhood in Technicolor Facebook page.