Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ira Alamar Rhys

I have two sons! Is that wild, or what? Here's one of the first pictures I took of Ira Alamar Rhys, born on August 4th, at 7:07 PM. He weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce, and was 21 inches long. Especially compared to Ishmael's birth, things went quite smoothly, but I'll save the birth story for another post. For now, here is the story of Ira's name, for us to remember, him to read someday, and you to learn about, should you be interested in it.

I wrote a little bit before about how I built a space in my head and heart for Ira by attaching myself to aspects of his name and my dreams of him. We had a hard time settling on a second middle name for him, but all along, I've imagined him wrapped up in images of the ocean. In fact, when I swaddled him this morning in one of the indigo dyed blankets I made, it looked so... right! I made this little image-quilt with images from this Pinterest board that I'd been keeping as he grew in my belly.

To me, a good name should be uncommon, but not outrageous. Both our boys have names that aren't made up or spelled strangely, though they are not well known or often used in our circles. In fact, I've made it a point to google and facebook search my sons' names to make sure there aren't any weirdos or infamous people I don't know about who share their names, and all the Ishmael and Ira Tuckers seem to be african american. Ishmael is a common name among Hispanic communities too, and Ira is predominately Jewish.

I'm more willing to go "celebrity" status with their middle names, though not for the express purpose of being eccentric. When choosing names, we considered the phonic flow of the whole name, the initials, the languages of origin, any pop culture ties that will be triggered when people hear the name, the meaning of the name, and any personal significance the name may have - I like to have a story or reason behind the name. To find three names per kid that fit all those criteria can be tricky, but here's what we decide on for Ira, and why.

Ira (Hebrew, meaning "Watchful". Also the name of a Polynesian sky goddess, apparently).
The first time I heard the name "Ira" was because of NPR's This American Life host, Ira Glass. Our Ira, however, is not named after him. Strangely enough - as these things tend to go - as soon as the name was on my radar, I started to hear it everywhere! I'm a little surprised "Ira" hasn't caught on as a popular baby name in the last few years - it has all the right components, including being short and beginning with a vowel, to name a few. In fact, we recently read that names beginning with "Is" are on the rise too, who knew?! Probably skewed by Isabella after Twilight.

Once again, Jonas was the one who suggested Ira as a first name, and I quickly agreed. That's another difficult criteria I should have mentioned above about how we pick names (that we agree, I mean), so we tend to stick with whatever we both like. We settled on Ira pretty early on.

And no, we aren't purposely giving all our kids "I" names, because a) this isn't the 90s, and b) it's a pain in the bum to abbreviate when texting, for example. Both our sons will have trouble signing emails with their first initial, sorry guys.

Although unplanned, I like that Ishmael and Ira sound nice together and have complimentary meanings. Ishmael means "the Lord hears", so I think it's kind of poetic that Ira means "watchful".

Alamar (Spanish meaning "to the sea", Arabic meaning "covered in gold") 
This is the name with the most meaning to me, and I've been hanging on to it for a long time. Ever since I saw the documentary "Alamar", I was set on having it be part of one of my children's names. I can't believe that not everyone is dying to name their babies "Alamar", it's so lovely to me. I love the way it sounds in my head, (like the ocean, to me) but I don't like the way I pronounce it out loud, and Jonas wasn't as crazy about it as I am, so that's why it ended up as a middle name instead of a first name.

The film "Alamar" is incredibly beautiful, both because of the setting in the coral reef and because of the relationship between father and son. The calmness of the father and the love and gentleness toward nature and wildlife shared between the father and son remind me of Jonas and how he is raising his own sons. A white heron on its migration path stays with the father and son in the movie for a few days, and they christen it "Blanquita". Whenever Jonas and I see a white heron, we also call "Blanquita!" after it. [image]

"Alamar" is not a common name or term in general, but there happens to be an Alamar Avenue in Santa Barbara. It makes me smile when we drive by, and I feel like we'll always be attached to this place in a little way, even if we don't make our permanent family home on the Central Coast. Similarly, every time I come up the hill from Gaviota, headed south, and see the ocean, I think the ocean is one of the most beautiful sights in the world, no matter the weather. I love it when it's grey, I love it when it's blue, I love it when it's green. Maybe Ira will even end up with ocean eyes too, like me. He might not appreciate this later in life, but the whole ocean scene makes me think of that U2 line, "Oh, you look so beautiful tonight."

When I found the second, more obscure (though it pre-dates the Spanish) Arabic meaning of "Alamar", I was doubly in love with the name. I'm so happy to have a small piece of the Middle East in Ira's name, and the image of being covered in gold connotes a sense of the precious to me, beside the fact that I love all things golden.

Rhys (Welsh meaning "Runner", pronounced like a multiple of "rye", as opposed to with a harder Z sounds like "rise")
It was really hard to come up with a second middle name this time. We both really liked "Osiris", but didn't feel completely comfortable with the name's origin. We thought the "IS" ending of  "Osiris" went nicely with the rest of the name, so "Amadeus" was the second middle name for a while, but I never felt really attached to it. Then it was "Xavier" for a while, but I just couldn't divorce it from X-Men (not that that's totally a bad thing). I ended up finding Rhys on some random name list on the internet, and was immediately charmed that it was Welsh (my predominant heritage), for starters. I'd never heard of the name before, but it's apparently very common in Wales. It's also most commonly pronounced "Reese", though I pronounced it "Ryes" when I first read it, which I prefer. I debated whether to change the spelling (which I find totally annoying when other people do), but then happily discovered that "Ryes" is a legitimate pronunciation option as well, according to Wikipedia. I have no huge sentiment one way or another to the meaning of "runner", but maybe it will take on a story as Ira grows.

If Ira had been a girl, his name was going to be Ophira Dahl (Jonas may not know that, haha!!). Other names we liked but didn't ultimately choose were: Soren, Elias, Solomon, Amiri, Atlas, Maalik, Qasim, and Idris. Ira's pre-birth nickname was "Taco", because I craved lots of tacos during his pregnancy, and Jonas and I love Invader Zim, in which our favorite character has a special love of tacos.

In true 20-teens (2014) fashion, Ira's got a hashtag, #iraalamar, along with a regular name, right off the bat. I wonder if it will seem totally normal or totally ludicrous too look back at giving our kids internet names upon birth?

So that's the story! We're so thankful to have Ira finally in our arms, and little guy, we hope you like your name as you grow up. A few weeks prior to Ira's birth, I asked my mom if there were any names she liked now that weren't on her radar when she was having kids. She didn't have anything on the tip of her tongue, but she said that the more she sees her own kids grow, the more she believes that we, as parents, impart a blessing with the names we give our children - that the meanings of names set a tone, in a way. For Ira, I hope he uses his eyes to be attentive to the world around him, to appreciate beauty, and to take special notice of the needs of those around him. I hope he loves the beauty of the ocean as much as I do, and never tires of it or grows out of being in awe of it. He is more precious to me than gold, and as for running, I pray he is always running to do the right thing, running to finish the race strong, and running because isn't it incredible and freeing that our bodies can do that?! Life is an amazing thing. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I love when people put such thought and care into naming their children.


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