Choosing a baby name is such a big decision. Some couples are able to select one with ease, while others are unable to agree until after the baby is born. A name can be passed down from previous generations or it can be a modern variation or hybrid of classic names. As for my newest daughter, I wanted a name for her that would be meaningful and special, yet also pay homage to a dear and beloved person in my life. For those reasons, I chose the name Amani, after my favorite cousin, meaning “wishes, aspirations.”
I was around eight years old when I first met my cousin Amani after they moved to the States. She was a few years older than me and I was instantly drawn to her. I admired her manners, her style, and her friendly personality. As the years went on, I always looked to her as a role model as she continually inspires me. She is loyal to her parents, incredibly caring towards her siblings, and kind to everyone she meets. After she got married and had children — a queen amongst her four handsome, well-behaved boys and kindhearted husband — I appreciated how she took on her role as wife and mother with so much grace. She carries herself in a way that attracts people to her good nature and sweet smile. A few years ago, I was faced with a traumatic experience in which Amani stood by me with grounded support and helped me keep faith. From that day forward, I was forever indebted to her.
I was pleased to learn that the name Amani, pronounced ah-MAH-nee, means “wishes; aspirations.” I certainly aspire for my own little Amani to grow up and embody all of the characteristics that I admire in my cousin. I wish for my Amani to become a daughter that my husband and I can rely on to be kind to us, bring unequivocal joy to our lives, and call us every day long after she’s moved out. As a sister, I wish her siblings find comfort in her company, happiness in their memories shared together, and a lifetime of friendship. I hope for my little girl to grow up to be whatever she aspires to be. To find happiness in wishes that have come true. To exude kindness and brighten each person’s day by her presence.
The two Amanis of my life met during an unfortunate time. My daughter was only three weeks old when my cousin suddenly lost her father. My husband and I immediately flew to Detroit to be with the family. Amidst the heartache, I would like to think that my baby gave Amani a glimmer of hope that she will again find happiness in the future.
My sweet little Amani is hardly three months old and she’s already filled our lives with more love and happiness than we could have ever wished for. The weight of the meaning and love in her name is felt each time I tell her, “I love you, Amani.”