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How I chose my children’s names

This month, I read the incredibly moving book “Endings & Beginnings” by Redi Tlhabi.  One aspect of the book which struck me was how a child given a name meaning sorrow was so negatively impacted by his name.   I have 4 children, their names and the meanings were carefully chosen.

As a child, I had a best friend Dominique, she was more than a friend, we were like sisters and shared everything.  From when we were little girls I promised that if I had a daughter, I would name her after Dominique, and I did.  The meaning of the name Dominique is – Of God.  My pregnancy was a difficult time, Dominique’s father broke up with me as soon as I found out that I was pregnant.  I was 20 years old.   To me her name means that she was a gift from God regardless of the circumstances.  Choosing her name also meant that I honoured a promise and I have always felt very strongly that if I say that I will do it my word must have weight.

My second child Heath was given his name, firstly because I loved the sound of it.  The name is strong yet romantic.  I don’t really like the name Heathcliff, probably because I associate it with a cartoon cat.   Heath means – a tract of open and uncultivated land.  I love that image, in my mind’s eye I see clear blue skies over a field of golden grass, beautiful in its unclutterd simplicity.  His name is a reminder that life is his to cultivate and build on according to his dreams.

My 3rd child is Fjord.  While I was still trying to fall pregnant with him the name came to me one day as I was playing with words while in the bath.  I was looking for a name beginning with F as it would work well with our surname, I was also thinking of names with nature as an element.  I thought of Ford as in Douglas Adams ‘Ford Prefect’ then a few mental skips later arrived at Fjord.  A Fjord is a long, narrow arm of the sea bordered by steep cliffs: usually formed by glacial erosion.  That was just perfect, Fjord is surrounded by Cliffs, my Grandfather was named Clifford, my brother is Paul Clifford and my husband is Clifford so he is indeed surrounded by Cliffs.  I am yet to find a baby name book which lists this as a name which resulted in some criticism when we chose it but all can now not imagine him having any other name.  

With little Acacia again we wanted a name linked to nature and preferably trees as both my father and husband love trees. Acacia means – Thorny tree.  I believe that in Australia the Acacia trees are a type of wattle but here they are beautiful thorn trees, very much part of the spirit of the African bushveld.  The trees look so delicate but they are tough and beautiful.  My vision for her is that she will be beautiful but tough, that no one will trample her and that her spirit will be strong and resilient.

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