I had never quite pondered the great responsibility of naming a human being until Tanner and I found out we were pregnant with Eiley. I guess that is normal, but I became quickly overwhelmed at the thought of giving a little human life a name . . . that which they will be called for the entirety of their life. It is part, a major part, of this child’s identity . . . woah! So, immediately upon finding out we were pregnant (March 2011) we began discussing names we liked and, as it always seems to be the case, we had many boy names picked out, but only three girl names. Come June we found out that we were having a wee girl. We didn’t decide on a name until we met our daughter (November 10, 2011), and even then we didn’t give her a name for the first 24 hours. All throughout the pregnancy we referred to her as little lady Richards, and that is what she was called in the hospital before we decided on Eiley. Really, Eiley was the only contender in the “name competition,” but the birth experience was just a TINY BIT crazy (foreign country, my mom driving us to the hospital . . . on the left side of the road, laughing gas as my sole “pain killer”) that we sort-of needed to recover lest we name the baby, “What the heck just happened to us?”
So, we gave our daughter the name Eiley Eliza Richards. First, let me explain how we arrived at the name Eiley (pronounced I-lee). Just a few months prior to our move to Belfast in the fall of 2009, Tanner and I were introduced to a lovely girl named Eilidh Patterson who was in Nashville working on an album (you should totally check out her music, by the way)! Eilidh is originally from Northern Ireland and she was so kind to have lunch with us and tell us a bit about the place we would soon come to love and know so well – Belfast. Although Eilidh also pronounced her name I-lee, she spelled it the traditional Gaelic way and sometimes the name is pronounced A-lee (rhymes with Bailey). After that lunch with Eilidh, Tanner and I mentioned how much we LOVED the name but of course, kids were nowhere on the radar . . . especially while we were both in school and living in a foreign country.
Fast forward to the MOST SHOCKING SURPRISE OF MY LIFE . . . finding out we were pregnant. Eiley was the first girl name we mentioned . . . we remembered our friend, Eilidh, and thought it was an appropriate way to remember our daughter’s Irish heritage. We took the liberty to change the spelling, simply because we weren’t sure how our daughter’s first day of kindergarten would go if her teacher looked down and saw “Eilidh” on the class role . . . “Eye-lid, are you present?” So, we turned to the most reliable source (of course) . . . Facebook. We were curious to see if there were any Eileys, Eilys, Isleys, or Islys (all the variant spellings we had thought of). Out of all our searches, we only found 2 matches both spelling their name Eiley. So, Facebook confirmed the way I was at least spelling it in my mind all those months . . . Eiley it was.
We did a bit more research on the name to find that it means “Fair-skinned” or “Radiant One.” I’d like to think that people turn away from me sometimes during the summer because my skin is radiating, not because the sheer paleness of my skin blinds people. And lets be honest, with Tanner and mine genes combined, our child was destined to be about as fair as they come. However, I particularly liked the meaning, “Radiant One.” My very prayer for Eiley is summarized in her name. In Exodus 34:29, it is written that when Moses came down from meeting with God on Mt. Sinai “the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” I pray that Eiley’s conversation with God begins at an early age and that it continues all the days of her life. I pray that as she daily receives love and peace for her life’s journey, that the presence of the Holy Spirit will radiate in and through her, so much so that others will stop and stare to admire the beauty of God’s “Radiant One.”
As for her middle name . . . it may or may not have taken us a week to decide. We just couldn’t find the name we liked best . . . we thought for a while that we would call her Mary Eiley Richards, seeing as how both her grandmas are Marys – Mary Beth and Mary Jane (Janie). But, then she would have to put up with the whole my first name isn’t actually the name I go by thing . . . and Eiley Mary Richards just didn’t seem to flow. So, we continued circling around our options and as we were sitting in the parking lot of the civic centre where we had gone to register Eiley’s birth and obtain her birth certificate, we still didn’t know her middle name. Nearly simultaneously, we both suggested “Eliza.” This came from a tradition on my side of the family . . . my great-grandma was Mary Elizabeth, after whom my Mom was called Mary Beth. I, then, was given the Elizabeth back. So, I suggested Eliza and Tanner said he was just about to say Eliza as an option (which means “God is my promise”). I wrote it in on Eiley’s birth certificate application, walked into the civil service office, and ten minutes later she was forever Eiley Eliza Richards . . . our wee radiant one shining brightly because God is her promise.
Enjoy the photos!