With the Orthodox Easter just around the corner and the Catholic one celebrated just a week ago, I decided to write a seasonal post, which is something I don’t particularly enjoy to do, but it just so happens that this time I had enough inspiration. So here you go. The non-hip hippies Easter special!
If you are too bored to read this admittedly long post, just scroll to the bottom, to the essence of it.
Disclaimer: This post is based on my personal experience only. However, it might be food for thought for new parents or parents-to-be as well as godparents.
How I got my name
Legend has it that when I was born my parents were thinking to name me Eva Maria, from my father’s mother, whose full name is Gertraude Eva Maria. Legend also has it that my godmother firmly refused to name me Gertraude or the Greek version of it (pronounced roughly “Yertrouthi”), which quite frankly would probably result into bullying. Finally it was decided to name me Martha, as my other grandmother at the time was really sick (breast cancer. Luckily she is still fine at the ripe age of 85 and the most rad person I know). But they also wanted to give me my grandfather’s name (Alexios) and so Alexia Martha was born. I have a very loving couple’s name. How great is that?
How I got my godmother
My godmother was carefully chosen by my mom. They studied together and invented some pretty amazing terms, like the word “liguthia”, which is used to describe the feeling we have those days that we wake up feeling blue without an apparent reason. Baudelaire would probably claim that spleen is good enough a word to describe that feeling, but liguthia is so much more than that. My godmother is one of the most unconventional yet noble and gracious persons that I know of. Despite the fact that she has a couple of dreadlocks. Or maybe exactly because of that.
I had a traditional Orthodox baptism ceremony, not because my parents are religious, but because Greece is a deeply theocratic country (maybe not officially, but essentially) and my parents just wanted to get it over with. I find it sad to participate in the sacred ceremonies of a religion without being a believer but in Greece those ceremonies are really engraved into the culture and everyone does those things whether you believe or not. Anyway, back to my baptism. To give you an idea about how religious my parents and godmother are, according to the Orthodox church, when a child is 40 days old they have to go to church with the mother and godmother and keep going for three consecutive Sundays (or something like that). So what did my mom and godmother do? They took me one Sunday to three churches. Had I grown up to become a Christian Orthodox, I would probably find that a disgrace, but as I am not religious I find it just amusing. If you yourself are religious, you probably believe that my godmother was off to a very bad start and my mom had made a terrible choice. You are totally wrong. Here is why.
Why my godmother rocks
My godmother has been discretely by my side throughout my childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and even motherhood. When I was a child I was not that interested in her. She was just another adult. But as I grew up I realized that she was a special kind of adult. The one that listened. That is one of her biggest virtues. She is a great listener. Also, once I turned 18, instead of considering her guidance completed, she came even closer to me. We started meeting just the two of us for coffee and I would share with her all my joys and angst. Even though I do have a great relationship with my parents, it was great to have another adult in my life, whom I could fully trust for solid advice. However, I can not recall one single moment of my godmother judging me or giving the traditional kind of advice. She would just encourage me to talk and then nod her head or mention that she has been there herself and it gets better. Just a couple of years ago, when I told her I was vegan, she told me she had also gone through that phase that she was vegetarian and basically only ate chestnuts for a month.
This June I am turning 30 and my godmother is still very much in my life. I might be living abroad now and see her only once a year, but we still keep in touch through facebook or phone and she got the cutest bunny slippers and hat for Loulou this summer. That’s another thing I love about her: her gifts have always been thoughtful and very much about me, my interests, my taste, my likes. I never got a big bag from a toyshop full of plastic junk made in China by kids my age.
So L. thank you very much for listening to all my teenage rambles, not judging my obviously bad boyfriend choices, never forgetting to ask me and support my future plans, being in my life after I became an adult, not telling my secrets to my parents and never forgetting my (Christian) name day (see, she is good at that part as well 😉 ).
How we chose Loulou Maya’s name
That is a question we get asked A LOT. As we are both Greeks we were expected to give the name of one of her grandmothers. Or at least grandfathers. Or someone from the family. Well, our parents know us enough to not expect that from us and Loulou is a girl so there was not much pressure to continue the family name (199468540 tiny feminist fairies just exploded. I am sorry for that. That is -to a great extend- the Greek reality). Also both my mom and N.’s mom are not very fond of their names. So we were pretty much free to chose whatever we wanted. We made long lists with beautiful ancient Greek names and melodic French names and some international names, but something was missing all the time. As a fetus we have been calling her Matilda for quite some time but in the end we somehow got tired of it (even though I still like it). At some point I found this amazing project, which I highly recommend that you read. The Reluctant Father’s name was Loulou and N. loved it. It is simple to pronounce, simple to spell and it carries no heavy history. We found out that lulu in Swahili means pearl and that in some Native American dialects it means hare. It is also used as a pet name for kids with all kinds of names in French. But I still wanted a Greek middle name. I chose Maya because it has a magical meaning in it for many different cultures. It also starts with an M, just like my middle name.
Friends and family immediately pointed out that they liked Maya better and they would just call her that and we were very open about it, but when she was born and we started calling her Loulou, she became Loulou for everyone and they ended up loving the name along with the child. We still use Loulou Maya from time to time for emphasis. I do love the fact that she has a choice of names though as well as the fact that her middle name has the hidden meanings.
How we chose Loulou’s godmother
Fine. I chose her. But I asked N. and he liked my choice. Loulou’s godmother is not a godmother in the traditional, Christian sense, as she is not baptized. She is however very much a godmother in essence. I tried to find out if there is a term for the godparents of children who are not baptized, but it seems that everyone uses “godparents” as it’s the easy choice. I like “spiritual guide” but I am pretty sure that Loulou’s non-spiritual godmother would vomit a bit with that term. So why did we chose a non-religious, non-spiritual person to guide our daughter through life? Here is why.
Why Loulou’s godmother rocks
Loulou’s godmother, A., is my best friend from university (and on). I have known her for 12 years and I know that she is one of the most mature people out there. The best part is that I have seen her maturing the same way she has seen me. She knows all the stupid things I have done in my crazy years and I know all the stupid things she has done. After all, we did many of said stupid things together. She is a woman that has made her mistakes and has learned from them and I know that she can help out Loulou when she makes her own mistakes. She is also a very sensitive and loving person in a very non-cheesy way, which I love about her. She is smart, she is creative, she is resilient, she has ideals, she has a great taste. She also swears quite a bit, smokes and is a workaholic, but that’s what mothers are for, to balance godmothers out 🙂
I know that when Loulou grows up, she will always feel that she can share her troubles with A. and that she will get good advice. I also know that A. won’t tell Loulou’s secrets to me, which kind of pisses me off but is an important great godmother feature. On the other hand, I also know that she won’t share with Loulou my stress about her upbringing and will help me stay sane when she is 3 minutes late.
I also know that if something happened to me (yes, knock on wood and all that…) A. would take care of Loulou as if she were her own child, only even better, if that is possible. I know she would do her very best to support N. and Loulou in any way she could think of.
But… but… won’t you baptize her?
My brother, who happens to be a troll, asked this question on a facebook post of mine recently. In fact he asked “when” are we going to baptize her. He knows pretty well that we are not going to.At least not until ” when the stars align”, as I replied to him. Why? Well, first of all because there isn’t a specific religion out there that we feel accurately describes our view of the world. One of us believes in science and the beauty of the moment and the other believes in the power of nature and the sacred Mother Earth/Moon/Sun (ok, that’s me and fine, I might be a bit pagan-ish). So we believe that Loulou should be free to choose her own religious/spiritual path as she grows up. And then she can choose to get baptized or dedicate herself to whichever deity she sees fit. Or be a happy atheist. We will be there to cheer for her and fully support her in her decision. Till then, we are planing to talk to her about as many historical or mythical personalities as we can and get her acquainted with different religions, traditions and cultures in the process.
If there is only one thing that you are going to take away from this post, let it be this:
P.S.: You can check out all the other family and parenting posts here.