Feb 26, 2010

Reid Amani Quirk - The Name

For those of you not in the market for baby names, you'd be surprised by the literature, websites, blogs, opinions, 'experts', data, graphs, and charts available on the subject. There are books with 60,000 baby names from cultures all over the world (we've got that one), books that survey people's first impressions of different names (got that one, too), and even web-charts that update in real time as you type a name, displaying its fluctuations in popularity since the 1890's with data from the social security administration (oh, yes).
After much indecision, a decent amount of research, and most importantly a polling of friends, we had a few names in mind: Clare for a girl, and Reid or Alec for a boy. It was only after our little fellow was born into the water, alert, but very calm, that we looked at each other and agreed, he would be Reid. At the moment, Reid is making our job look easy, sleeping a lot, and demanding little. Life with Reid looks mostly like this:
Liam's middle name, Kiran, went over very well in India, because it's Indian, and we chose it to signify our time and connection to that part of the world.  We wanted to give our second child an equally meaningful middle name, one that reflects some of our family's interests and values, and we settled on a Swahili name, one that we've loved and thought of for years now: Amani.  Amani means "peace" in Swahili.  The source of this name comes ultimately from the two years that Katie spent in Tanzania, from our close friend Modesta, and our adventures and life with her.  In 2002 we returned to Tanzania to bring Modesta to India with us. We served as her quasi-parents for four and a half years while she completed her high school studies in Kodaikanal, where we taught. On the left: Modesta just before Katie met her in Tanzania.  On the right: Katie and Modesta after her high school graduation.
So, Amani is a recognition of our beloved friend Modesta and a celebration of  Tanzanian/Swahili culture. We are excited to watch how this name will grow into who Reid becomes. We hope that someday, perhaps Reid will get a chance meet his Aunt Modesta, and to spend meaningful time in Tanzania. Below, the beautiful and surreal landscape where Modesta grew up, where rolling hills strewed with random piles of massive Kopje rocks overlook the shining shore of Lake Victoria.  (If you squint, you can see Tim on top one of those kopjes.  Climbing up on that rock was much harder than it looks.)

When we got married, we decided not to change our last names.  We both loved the names we were given, and the symbolic connection to the families that we came from, and couldn't imagine asking our partner to change his/hers.  When we became pregnant with Liam we thought, "Now what?"  Katie suggested that since she got to experience the pregnancy and the birth, that Liam should be a Waring. Then when we were pregnant the second time, we asked ourselves again, "Now what?"  We revisited other options - using one of our last names as a shared family name, inventing a new family name, hyphenating - all wonderful choices, for which friends of ours had opted in the past. In the end, however, we decided to keep the last names the three of us already had and to name our second kid "Quirk." This felt balanced. Ultimately, both of our children are half Quirk, half Waring, and mostly themselves.
Of course, people will always wonder about our choice, but we will always be happy to talk about it. We've had Swedish friends who all took the mom's last name; Indian and Tanzanian friends who used the father's first name as their family name; and American friends who invented an entirely new family name for themselves.  We like our names in part because it is a unique solution. We like the feeling of nudging the equilibrium, and it feels deeply correct to honor both of our families, the male and female lines, the multiplicity of who we are as a family.

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So, now we're 
Katie Quirk, Tim Waring,
Liam Waring and Reid Quirk,
one family with two surnames, 
both of which 
we love.