Confession, I was extremely, embarrassingly late in registering Finch's birth. Here in the uk you need to make an extra special trip to 'The Registrar' (sounds like a bad thriller). So a full twelves weeks after Finch's birth I shamefully made my way to 'The Registrarrrrr'. Finch was all cosied up in the Baby Bojrn and Moll was toddling by my side. I wandered in and began with my red-faced apologies for my tardiness.
Lady no.1: I was just saying to (lady no.2) that this couldn't be a birth registration because the baby looked far too old
Me: Yes, yes I'm so sorry, i'm terrible, I've just been so busy with these two
Lady no.2: You know your child benefit won't be fully backdated?
Me: yes, i'm sorry.
It wasn't until I was working through some of the details on the form, namely the fathers details and my maritial status, that 'Lady no.1' looked up at me and said 'Ah , yes, you have been busy'.
However, I am grateful for my tardiness on this issue. It gave me extra time to think carefully about his name. Names have been on my mind a lot lately. Should I change mine? if so, can I change the kids? Would I get consent to do so? Would I go back to my 'maiden' name? or should I chose a new one altogether? Blah Blah Blah.
With all these questions, doubts and ideas bubbling around in my head I had a good long think about Finch's name. I've never doubted his forename for a second, it is brim full of meaning and I love it. But, for reasons that shall remain unsaid for now, I felt he needed an extra middle name. But what?
As the precedent had been set, It would need to have meaning, the 'I just liked the way it sounded' approach doesn't really work with me. I started to think of the names of admirable, history-making men. 'Bartlet', the president from West Wing came to mind.
And then I stopped myself. I wised up. He already has Atticus freakin' Finch as a role model, perhaps I should give the little guy a break, and maybe even a bit of a reality check. He's human and fully capable of making mistakes, perhaps even massive ones. Just because he is 'The Man of the House' doesn't mean we'll be sitting at his feet asking him to pass on his wisdom and guidance. And Then I smiled. Because there had been a name (or a word more so), all along, just waiting for me to realise how perfect it was.
Around a year ago, In the midst of 'the unravelling' I became addicted to the debut record from Mumford and Sons. These songs were pretty much on repeat for about 6 months. One evening when I was listening to the album in the company of friends, my oh-so-special-lady-friend Ms. Heather Kerr jokingly said to me "um, Alli - did you write these songs? Are you a secret member of Mumford and Sons?". I laughed But I also breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't just me that thought these songs were so fitting for my crisis.
One particular song that spoke to me was this:
I won't go into it line by line, but I assure you, each sentence resonates strongly with me. It acknowledges the pain and desolation I feel but reminds me that whilst 'it may steal my innocence [but] it will not steal my substance'. It tells me that I am 'not alone in this'. It is particularly this verse that strikes deep within me:
"You are the mother, the mother of your baby child, the one to whom you gave life. And you have your choices, and that is what makes man great, his ladder to the stars"
I got to see Mumford and Sons in concert a few months ago. It was my first night away from Finch. I waited for this song anxiously, knowing it would bring up a lot of emotion in me. There were tears, there were hugs, there were even a few strange looks. But who cares, I threw my hands up in the air, closed my eyes and let the little bird inside my soul fly freely for a while.
(Photo taken of that very night by the very talented Mr Darren Anderson)
Upon falling in love with this song I researched the meaning behind the title. Timshel is Hebrew for 'Thou mayest'. The word is explored in John Steinbeck's book 'East of Eden' :
"The Hebrew word Timshel, which means ‘Thou mayest’ - gives man a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. It says the way is open... and throws it right back on a man.
‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods - for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.
And I feel that a man is a very important thing — maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed — because Timshel: ‘Thou mayest.’"
Timshel - It is resplendent with significance. It speaks with sorrow about the choices his father made. It empowers me by reminding me that I do have my choices. It is because I could run away that makes the staying so much sweeter.
And So this is my son's not-so-secret-anymore middle name. Finch Timshel Steen Magee. It's quite a mouthful and will probably not be used very often. But it's still important, at least to me. I could name him after all the most influential and nobel men in history but at the end of the day, he is his own little person with his own little (and large) choices to make. As his mother I cannot make his choices for him, I do not own him. Kahil Gibran says "you may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts." I must surrender to the fact that he has been granted free will, free choice
- Thou mayest.