First, let me assure all of you that I will not always refer to my daughter as baby #1. Her name is Leila Soleil. Sounds a little like her parents were hippies, but so much thought went into her name.
First Leila is an Arabic name meaning “Night Beauty.” My grandfather is Lebanese, although the rest of my family was born and raised in Liberia. It was important to me to give my daughter a name with either a West African or Middle Eastern origin. My name is of Persian origin and my husband has an Arabic name as well, so we knew which made more sense. Plus, I wanted her to have some tie to that party of my family since ties are getting more and more watered down by the day. We knew traditional names would not work. Let’s face it, two people with “different” and hard to pronounce names could not have a child named “KIM.” That would just be weird.
We didn’t have to call out very many Arabic names before we agreed on Leila as our favorite. So, Leila it was. This was decided by the time she was a month old in the womb. People always ask if we named her after the legendary Laila Ali and, as much as we love her, I can’t say that was the case. Oddly enough, I remember sitting in my doctor’s waiting room in my last trimester reading an article about Ms. Ali as she shared her hopes for her upcoming child (we were pregnant at the same time). I loved her spirit and I loved her words and decided I would be honored to have a child that shared her name.
We had the hardest time with the spelling of her name though. I have an aunt who spells her name Leila with an “e” and just selected that spelling, but we later met so many people with different variations. I guess she will be like her parents and constantly having to correct people.
On to her middle name: Soleil. It’s literal translation from French is Sun. The middle name was harder to choose, as it wasn’t determined until close to her birth. The story behind it is a little ridiculous. As you know 2008-9 was an intense election period and we watched a lot of CNN. All of a sudden, my husband blurts out “Let’s name her Soledad.” I looked at him crazily and Soleil popped into both of our minds. See ridiculous. What followed was a discussion of what the full name would mean – Night Sun aka Moon.
See, back when my husband and I started dating in 1999, he dedicated this song called “Orange Moon” by Erykah Badu to me. In total teenage bliss, we’d proclaim that he was the sun and I was the “orange moon reflecting the light of the sun”. Fast forward 10 years, Leila Soleil would be our Night Sun aka Moon.
See, I told you we put a lot of thought into this name. Now we’ll have to start all over again for baby #2 – unless, of course, we are able to make him a junior, but we won’t know that for several months.