Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflections on a Name

I'm in the process of writing Lily's Welcoming Ceremony which I'll be writing a whole blog about very soon. As I did research on alternatives to baptisms/christenings/dedications one of the elements that I kept running across was the inclusion of a section where the name of the new child was announced.

I've always believed that names are important. Often times name have meanings in other languages and as metaphysical as it sounds, I think saying that word over someone their entire life can have an effect on them even if they don't know the meaning. So, I knew when I named my child that I would want to make sure I knew the meaning of the name I chose. I didn't want to be calling my child Crap Bag in Italian all his or her life and not know it. hehe.

So, I started my research on Lillian, which we had pretty much already picked and Jay was already head over heals in love with. I found that it means Lily, like the flower. So, I took it a step further. I know that flowers have meanings as well, so what did the Lily mean? Well.. it means Pure or Purity. I breathed a sigh of relief. At least it didn't mean big steaming pile of poop or anything like that. But I didn't immediately fall in love with the meaning because it invoked too many feelings of striving to be pure in a religious sense. That is.. until I starting meditating on it.

As a part of the ceremony Jay and I will announce the name we've chose, what it means and why we feel strongly enough about that name and meaning to speak it over our child their whole life. So, I really started thinking about what that would mean for her. And that is when I feel in love with both her name and its meaning. For me, it comes down to the core of each human being. Growing up in the Christian church I was taught that at the core of my being, simply because I was born, I am sinful, fallen, weak, bad, doomed by the bad deed of one human man and woman, and in need of saving by an external god. Combined with the other messages taught in my household, such as my dad's view that he was the only one with any wisdom or knowledge, this view of being inherently bad and wrong became a noose... a suffocating force that took me many, many years to walk out from under. To this day I still struggle with an ability to voice my own opinion because I still feel that because it is mine (regardless of how much I've studied or researched the topic), it will always be wrong and should always be questioned. It's not a question of if I am wrong, but how and why.

I do NOT want my daughter to grow up to struggle with the same thing! One of the things that helped me at least identify the messages that had been forced on me, was a broad study of world religions. I remember being blown away by the teachings of Buddhism, and the concept that at my core I am good and pure and that only through the corrosive elements of the outside world do I learn to be "bad" (i.e. egotistical, hurtful, prideful, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.). This simply idea was liberating and became a core life value for me.

I want Lily to grow up confident in herself. She has worth and deserves respect and love simply because she is. She does not need to be saved or converted or rescued in order to be loved. She does not need to earn her place in this world, unlike her mother who spends much of her time and energy every single day trying to prove that she has worth and deserves to be loved.

There is something spiritual about holding an infant. Their spirit is so pure, it's almost like touching the other side, if there is another side. It's overwhelming to see how children are ignorant of things like sexism, racism, homophobia, and the hatred of those who are not like us. These things must be taught. I hope to not teach these things to Lily. I hope to raise her in a household filled with acceptance and love and laughter. I hope to teach her to hone and trust her instincts and that at her core, just like her name states, she is pure... she is Lily.

p.s. Note that this is not an overview of my entire child rearing theories and does not imply that I will never correct or guide or discipline my child. It does not mean that I plan to raise a spoiled brat of a child or have a "child ruled" house. So, please no comments about how I'm going to be a horrible mother.

p.s.s. Also, for my friends who are of the Christian faith, please do not take this as a judgement of you. I accept all my friends and celebrate the diversity that we as a group possess. I am thankful that Lily will have access to wonderful examples of different faiths and will encourage her to take advantage of these people and their knowledge in order to find her own path.

The End. :-)

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