what's in a name?
i commonly get called michelle instead of nicole. it's so common that i actually answer to the name michelle. i usually attribute it to the fact that my last name, michaelson, could really throw people off. but even people that don't know my last name have called me michelle. who knows, maybe it was supposed to be my name.
it's funny that we get our names sometimes even before we are born. my mom wanted to call me valerie or lauren and then at the last minute my grandfather chimed in with 'nicole marie' and it stuck. but before we get a chance to actually show our true colors, we are given a name that in turn shapes us as much as we shape it.
my friends, lizzie and rob, adopted a baby from ethiopia this month and i got to be a part of the naming process. yes, she had a name when they got her but it was a difficult name. we all know how kids like to make fun of names and this one was begging for some ridicule. she will be keeping her birth name, dogmawit, but also gaining a new name.
when i got to their house, there was a list of possible names to be voted on by the family. everyone contributed to the list -- lizzie, rob and diego. they read it outloud and though having just met the little one, there just didn't seem to be one that 'fit' her personality. doggie, as the people at the orphanage called her -- you can now understand why she needed a different name -- is a sweet mushy little african girl with big round brown eyes and face with a sunny disposition. she has a big belly, a big smile and a strong presence in the room. you could tell that the time she spent in the orphanage taught her to be a bright shining star. she just has this way about her that is almost queen-like; nothing on that list seemed to embody any of that.
i pulled out my phone and did a search for some names and read them aloud. doggie's big bro, diego, curled up under my arm on the couch to help. some of the names were hysterical while others were just too bland. i put in for alpha but then we dropped that after we realized she could be referred to as 'alpha dog'. we narrowed it down to two. first was amara. it means unfading beauty. and then the other was cleopatra. i know what you are thinking, cleopatra is begging for some ridicule, too. but cleopatra could translate to cleo. lizzie kept calling out the names to see if doggie would respond. the names were aded to the list and the voting commenced. it was unanimous -- cleopatra.
cleo was the name that she really responded to -- it totally fits her whole way of being. she sat in the living room like a little queen with all her attendants around her. she sweetly comes up to you and pats your arm or back when you are holding her. it makes me wonder why we name our kids before we actually get to see who they really are. this seemed like a totally natural progression. it was cleo's first birthday and to me, it seemed like a really auspicious time to be named.
family and friends arrived to the house for a feast of ethiopian food from mesob ethiopian restaurant in montclair. we ate as much injera as we could, sang happy birthday over a dessert of fresh blueberries a whipped cream and when were done marveling in the lightness of doggie's demeanor and the fullness of our bellies, it was time for the naming ceremony. since diego was also adopted, lizzie and rob decided that it could be a naming ceremony and blessing for the both of them. i was asked to officiate.
we used water placed in a birdbath that diego had made and all contemplated the blessings that we wanted to bestow to the kids as we blessed the water. i used a flower dipped it into the water, wiping it on deigo's head to bless him. then, diego did the same for his new sister, cleo. she giggled at the coolness of the water rolling down her face.
it was an honor to be a part of the event. it's always an honor to see how people are with their kids. it really is sort of magical the way that you can choose to make things so special just by loving them. life is really like that -- when you choose to engage in it, it meets you back with an armful of blessings.