Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Middle Name

Matt and I went back and forth about Claire's middle name for a while, but we've agreed on one now. So, we wanted to share it, along with the short and long versions of its explanation.

Her name will be:  
Claire Moriah Kelley


Our short caveat: "Moriah with an 'o'. It's biblical, not like Mariah Carey."

I wouldn't saddle a child with a first name requiring explanation or frequent spelling clarification, but I figure beyond her first weeks of life, how often does one have to explain his or her middle name except in the context of friendly conversations about such things--the same conversations where people usually pull out their drivers' licenses to compare photos. That said, here's the longer explanation of "Moriah."

Moriah was the place at which Abraham bound his son Isaac for sacrifice. It first crossed my mind as an interesting baby name way back, during college, when I was reading Genesis 22 and pondering the notion of giving that which we are tempted to hold onto too tightly over to God. More generally, to me it signifies acknowledging God's ownership of all things and people, and our stewardship of God's gifts. It's hard not to claim "ownership" of our children, and thinking of parenting in terms of stewardship brings a good perspective, I think.

That place, Moriah, is then traditionally considered to have become the place where Solomon built the Temple, i.e. the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Since we found out we were pregnant on the day Matt left for Israel/Palestine last February, Matt liked the idea of an homage to his pilgrimage as well. (And given that the Hebrew meaning of Moriah is "ordained/considered by the Lord," it's also fitting since hopefully Matt will be fully ordained next year!)

And Mariah-with-an-A, by the way, is not just a different spelling, but a completely different name. It's a variant of Mary (Marah) which means "bitter" in Hebrew. (for example, when Ruth's mother-in-law says "No longer call me Naomi, but call me Marah, for the Lord has made me bitter.")

So, Claire Moriah it is, which seems to fit the baby-naming precedent we set with Kate: classic first name just 'cuz we like it (i.e. that I liked before ever knowing Matt) and less common middle name with more meaning. Kate is Katharine Barry. Yes, we have to specify "K-a-t-h-A..." when spelling it at doctor's offices and such--this even led to her being listed twice on our insurance when she was born, as Katharine and Katherine--but Kate very rarely requires clarification. If it weren't for that Cate Blanchett. And Barry is a female family name on my side. With Claire, a few people have wondered if a) we're using the "i," since there are some Clares out there, and b) if we're spelling it with a K, which I don't think anyone would wonder if it weren't for the "Kate and Claire" alliteration (is anyone actually named Klaire?)

What is your philosophy of baby-naming? First names, middle names, nicknames... do you have any "rules" you go by?

6 comments:

Matt Kelley said...

"Claire" doesn't directly have anything to do with the female disciple of St. Francis of Assisi, herself a saint and the founder of the Order of Poor Ladies, or "Poor Claires". I have a great fondness of Francis, but the name is a coincidence.

EMU said...

Oh, I love baby names! Claire's monogram is really pretty, btw.

For both of our girls we have given them 1 family name and 1 new to our family name. I like to think of it as retaining ties to our history and going forward with new life.

It's been important to me that I name our kids after people we love and respect and want to honor.

With our last name, we try to pick first names that are easy to spell and that people are familiar with.

Cindie said...

I love the name Claire. I have a niece named Claire. And I especially love the middle name you have picked out. It flows, as well as means something to you both. Beautiful!

Kristen said...

Beautiful name with a beautiful meaning.

Katie Bug said...

Great name (first and middle)!
So far, our baby naming rules are:
1. Significant meaning.
2. More than one syllable since our last name is monosyllabic.
3. Cannot stir up any dark memories of former students.
4. If we ever have a boy, his middle name will be Jeremy (family tradition on Jer's side).

Jessica Miller Kelley said...

Glad you mentioned the syllables, Rachel! That was one of our big holdups, in that I insisted on a multisyllabic middle name to go with Claire, b/c two one-syllable names would be clunky. I laid out three options--all three syllables, starting with M and ending in A/AH!

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