How I Named My Baby: Aden Parker
Maxi, an art teacher and artist, and Austin, an artist, live in Seattle with their son, Aden Parker.
Aden was born on November 19, 2021. We sat down with Maxi to discuss his name story.
Tell me Aden’s name story!
My husband and I were going through a list of names that we liked, and it came down to Aden or Asher. Some people are private about their name choices, but we asked all our friends and family to choose between the names. We had a good 50-50 split — people were torn, just like us.
I’m a middle school teacher, and none of my students liked Aden. I think they know too many classmates named Aiden, so they all voted Asher! But our families were more familiar with Aden — Asher was kind of new to them — so they preferred Aden.
When Aden came out, we thought it would be easy to decide between our choices based on his face. But we still couldn’t decide! That night, in the hospital, we kept deliberating.
Austin didn’t like Ash for a nickname, and I didn’t like Aids as a nickname, so we were trying to work around that. I thought if his name was Asher, friends would for sure call him Ash, so that took it out of the running.
We decided to go with a special spelling of Aden. We liked this spelling because it reminded us of Eden, which means “paradise.”
Did your job as a teacher influence how you thought about baby names?
I’ve had students with different spellings of Aden — Ayden, Aidan, and Aiden. There were no negative associations, but I wanted Aden’s name to be more special. My husband and I are both artists, and we wanted something different. The name Aiden is pretty common, so the spelling made us feel more confident in the name choice. It feels clean and minimal.
What other names did you consider?
We liked August too. But he really didn’t look like an August when he came out.
We loved Noa for a girl. That was our top choice — there was no debate. Once we knew he was a boy, we really had to start thinking.
Recently I have been so into the idea of Aden and Arden. I’m obsessed with Arden for a girl. But Aden and Arden might be confusing for people!
How do you feel about your own name, and how did that influence your choice?
My closest friends call me Max. I go by Maxi on social media for an extra layer of privacy. When people call me Maxi, you automatically know that we’re not that close and that they know me from social media!
I never liked my names! I don’t feel very connected to Maxi. I have a Chinese name that I grew up with, and I feel even less connected to that. That’s why choosing Aden’s name was so important. We mulled over it for so long because I wanted him to like his name.
I grew up in Taiwan, so when I’m with my family members there, they sometimes call me by my Chinese name. My mom uses it as well. The middle character, Mei, means “beautiful.” I always thought that was so cringey! It’s almost like calling your kid Beauty. It’s weird! I think that’s one of the reasons I could never connect with the name.
How did you choose Parker for Aden’s middle name?
Parker is Austin’s middle name and we love it. Usually, Chinese Americans would have their middle name be their Chinese name. The fact that Austin has an American middle name is very unique. Because I’ve never been attached to my Chinese name, I didn’t feel the need to give Aden a Chinese middle name.
Aden does have a Chinese name, it’s just not a part of his legal name. There’s no direct translation of his full Chinese name, but it means something like “gentle, wise, triumphant song.”
In Chinese culture, names are usually three letters. The first one is your surname, and the second one is shared — all the girls in a family have the same one and all the boys have the same one. My girl cousins all have Mei as their second letter as well. For Aden, we used the same middle letter as my brother. It’s the word that means “wisdom” or “language.” The last letter of Aden’s Chinese name is Austin’s dad’s middle name. So we pulled everything from various family members and strung it together in a way that sounds nice.
What are the trendy names in your social circle?
In Seattle, we see a lot of very hip names that are inspired by nature or trails, like Everett, Olive, and Forest. Because I’m a teacher, I see so many beautiful names all the time. There are a lot of Rowans and Kaidens. A lot of the names are unisex, like Tate and River.
Did you have any big fears related to baby names?
When you come across a name that has negative memories associated with it, it can really impact how you see someone. When I heard that there were so many people who knew Aidens that they didn’t really enjoy, it made me think about this choice. I really felt like this spelling was different enough that people would feel he’s a different kind of Aden.
What was the most surprising part of the baby name process?
People have learned to be sensitive about baby names, so most people were very respectful. If we didn’t directly ask, “What do you think, Asher or Aden?” no one would give any strong opinions. Everyone was so careful to not offend us in any which way.
A lot of people told us, “You shouldn’t ask people to vote because it’s your decision for your family.” Even though we wanted their input! I was surprised by how sensitive and considerate people were about the emotionally taxing part of choosing a name. They were like, “Just choose what’s best for your family, whatever you like.”
What advice would you give someone who’s just starting the baby name process?
Even before you have a baby, start collecting a list of names that both you and your partner like. Sometimes I would suggest a name and Austin would be like, “That’s not bad…” Not bad is good enough! Throw it on the list. Because you might have a hard time finding a name that both people like.
How would you describe your style beyond baby names?
In my art, I like to abstract complicated forms and details into general shapes. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, but I do like to work with negative space. That’s how I thought about taking the I out of Aden. It minimizes it and lets what should stand out, stand out.
How did you decorate Aden’s nursery?
I wanted it to be very gender-neutral. I don’t gravitate towards saturated or strong colors. I try to get toys with muted colors. Because Austin cares so much about his clothing and I care so much about interior design, we wanted to create this mutual space where Aden can develop his own style instead of imposing any color scheme or palette on him.
What was your favorite gift that you received for Aden?
A playmat that we received from my high school friend who I had lost touch with. It shows how bringing life into the world can help rebuild old relationships and bring people together in new ways. Even before he was born, Aden was such a blessing to our family, so I felt like this gift was symbolic of how he’s going to bring people together.
Do you have a favorite of Aden’s books or toys?
He loves his stuffed animal sheep because it reminds him of our dogs, Tulip and Tofu. Aden loves the dogs — he’s always laughing at them. At this age, he’s learning to grab, but he doesn’t know how to let go. So he’ll be grabbing onto the dogs and they’ll be yelping but he can’t let go! It’s better that he does that to the sheep.
Did anyone make anything special for Aden?
We had friends knit him blankets, which is really sweet. My mother-in-law is a really good seamstress, and she made these handmade bibs out of old cloth towels.
What are the cool things for Seattle parents to do with their children?
You always see parents out and about strolling their babies, often in a neighborhood like Ballard, where there are lots of coffee shops and plant shops. There are lots of babies in carriers going on hikes or trails with their parents. Picnics, too — we have so many beautiful parks, so there are lots of outdoorsy things to do with your kids.
Thank you so much, Maxi!
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