What’s in a Name? Uh, everything!
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet? I don’t think so.
Maybe it’s because I just hit the third trimester of my pregnancy, but a lot of people have been starting to ask if we’ve chosen a name for our baby. Unfortunately, the answer is NO! This is a crazy important decision, people, one that clearly takes months and months of agonizing. Allow me to demonstrate my neurotic side for just a minute.
During my first pregnancy, we decided to learn the gender of our baby, and once we knew we were having a girl, I emptied my local library of baby-name books and filtered through tens of thousands of names in search of the perfect one. Turns out, that was a tall order.
I’m well aware that part of the pressure I feel to pick names is due to my own unusual name. Growing up with a name like Evanthia (and you should’ve heard my full maiden name!), you come to think of your name as part of your identity, something that defines you and separates you from your peers with more common names. Especially when your name carries as much meaning as mine: I was named after my paternal grandmother (as is the Greek tradition), a woman my whole family adored.
While I’ve put up with comments like, “Wow, what an ethnic name!” or “That’s very unique,” I’ve always felt very proud of my distinctive name, a name that went back generations and held a lot of significance that no ignorant American was going to overshadow in my mind. Even though my American husband and I decided not to continue with this Greek naming tradition, I still feel a lot of pressure to provide my children with names as special as I always felt mine was.
Another part of my problem is that having been a teacher in a place as diverse as the suburbs of Washington, DC, I’ve interacted with students with almost every name imaginable and created associations with each name—some good, some bad. One of my all-time favorite girls’ names, for instance, was completely spoiled for me by a student who turned out to be my arch nemesis one school year!
I thought baby-naming felt impossible the first time around, but we did eventually come up with the perfect name. This time, we’re in far worse shape! And part of the problem is that we, again, learned the gender of our baby:
IT’S A GIRL!!!
We were both elated to learn that we’d have another adorable, little pink bundle of joy in our house come April: girls are familiar to us, we both love having a daughter (especially daddy!), and there’s the more practical issue of being able to reuse A’s old clothes, bedding, etc.
But wait? We have to think of another perfect girl’s name???
It would be soooo much easier to pick a boy’s name now. Maybe it’s because I’ve only ever had to choose girls’ names, but boys’ names seem so much more straightforward: you pick a nice, solid, masculine classic and move on with your day. Done!
With girls, you have to stress so much more about how a person with that name will be perceived. That name’s too fluffy; she’ll be a diva; she won’t be taken seriously; it’s too masculine; it’s too bookish; sounds promiscuous; and my all-time favorite: “she’ll end up crying her eyes out at the nude-y bar.”
I’m stumped, people! So maybe I need to reconsider my procedure for name selection. Maybe I’ve been going about it the wrong way. In Part II of my baby-naming neuroticism on display, I’ll be considering all the methods parents-to-be use to nail down their child’s very first gift: their name.
Does everyone else feel as much pressure as me to pick the PERFECT name??