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Naming a Sibling

Boy with pregant mother

Edward Mason Anthony... the Fifth. When we found out that our first child would be a boy, there was no doubt that we'd name him after my husband, and his father, and his grandfather and the line of Edward Mason Anthonys stretching back well over a century to 1826. My husband had a truly great relationship with his dad and had always loved researching his family history. So this family name felt exactly right.

It also helped that I loved the name "Mason," and my husband liked the idea of calling our son by his middle name. He'd be connected to the other Edward Masons who'd come before, but not be called "Junior" or any other moniker like that. The name Mason had begun as a last name in my husband's family and reached all the way back to colonists building new lives in Massachusetts in the 1600s.

So it was an easy choice, filled with positive feelings and a happy connection all the way back to the founding of the country. But three years later, when we got the news that another sweet baby boy was on the way, suddenly things got complicated. There was no generations-old family name to give him, no piece of American history to bestow. Our older son's name connected him to ancestors who trekked west and cleared forests and built communities.

What name for our younger son could feel as weighty and meaningful as that inherited title?

The solution was clear: We needed to construct a totally new name nothing like any ancestor had ever been given, pulling from the cultural influences and inspirations that fueled us both. The name we chose had to be solid. Strong, like a statement, ending with a consonant or two. And we wanted a connection to American history, but not one that tied directly to one of our families. That was important.

One night, sitting on our back patio, we came across the name Wyatt. Sure and solid, evoking one of America's earliest lawmen, we liked the sound and the feel of it. But Wyatt needed a middle name that was just as appropriate.

It happened that my husband had been working all year on a book about the history of the song "House of the Rising Sun," and Bob Dylan's work figured prominently. We'd been listening to a ton of Dylan's music throughout my pregnancy, exploring the creativity of his writing and how his powerful work in the late 1960s was the soundtrack of the turbulent era into which we'd been born. We also discussed the choice he'd made to change his own name, a young man of Russian and Lithuanian descent who choose to reinvent himself with a nod to the creativity of a Welsh poet.

There it was. Dylan. It had creativity, a sense of being able to shape your own destiny and a connection to my own UK heritage. We were getting warm. Wyatt Dylan Anthony. It was close, but his name was not quite finished yet.

We wanted, somewhere in the mix, a message about how we see the world. As kids watching TV reruns, we were both truly drawn to one single piece of pop culture: Star Trek. There, I said it. We loved not just the characters and the adventure, but also the message that exploring unfamiliar places, even when it's difficult, can change the world. That belief was with us when we moved to China in 2001, and it remained just as powerfully with us as we contemplated this new baby in 2006.

And that's where we found the last missing piece. We said it, over and over, and we knew we'd created it: a handmade, truly meaningful name for our second child, the one and only Wyatt (Earp) Dylan (Bob) Kirk (Captain) Anthony.

How did you pick your little one's name?

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