When I was a kid, naming dolls was quick and easy. I was certain that when I became a real mom, I’d name my little girl Cassandra. As a preteen Bare Naked Ladies fan, I’d ditched Cassie in favour of Steven Paige, by the time I was in high school, I was more into Green Day so the frontrunner became Billie Joe and in my late twenties, I’d decided against having a baby all together so naming a hypothetical daughter had fallen completely off my radar. Even so, when my husband Tyler and I finally decided to have a family and found out we were having a girl, I was surprised at how utterly overwhelming the responsibility of naming was.
We looked through baby name books, online lists, and googled names of philosophers, authors, feminists, and other groundbreakers, making notes of the ones we both liked. Thankfully, our taste was similar, but it felt like there wasn’t a frontrunner until Tyler suggested Petra. I loved that it was a strong name (it literally means ‘rock’ or ‘everlasting’) and that it wasn’t common but also felt familiar at the same time. “Petra it is”, I thought, and I began telling people when they asked. How could I have known my husband wanted to keep it a secret until the baby was born? When he overheard me telling an acquaintance, he wanted to abandon that name and choose another, which we did: Mickey. Buuuut you can’t deny the veto power of a woman in labor so, ‘Petra’ won out in the end!
This time around, we had a boy to name and it is all kinds of difficult. Meanings, origins, people we know, family ties… all of the big considerations in choosing a name are back but this time, there have been fewer names that sound like ours, possibly because I'd never before envisioned having a son. The contenders came down to River, Silas, and Paris, all of which I adore. But when Petra heard ‘Paris’, she refused to hear another so, after months of us trying to keep the search going in the face of her stubbornness, we had to stop brainstorming with her.
Again, I’ve been spilling the beans to whoever asks, gauging reactions as I list our three favourites. “Ooh,” is the most common response, “I love River.”
River is a beautiful name, yes. But, it’s not ours. Petra, like me when I imagine saying the name aloud to my son, just knew when she heard her brother’s. Petra and Paris, both taken from Greek mythology: Petra being one of the musical-eared Naiad Nymphs and Paris, the beautiful and intelligent boy who survived mountainside abandonment and would go on to be Helen of Troy’s catalytic choice for love and elopement. (You might know him by the surname of Alexander, a name that I wanted on the list but my husband did not.) And Paris, the city of light, was where Tyler and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary, a trip that saw Petra’s eyes gaze wide at a sparkling Eiffel Tower and her hands outstretch to the thousands of locks along the Pont des Arts. Perhaps most sweet about the name is that Saskatoon is known as the Paris of the Prairies, a nickname the Tragically Hip immortalised in song. (A very good song.)
So, after more than 41 weeks enjoying his home of Me, I’m so pleased to introduce you to our son, Paris Tyler Kardash.
May he love his name as much as we do.