What’s in a Name

Our third son

A friend sent me an article about baby names and their popularity. It happened to mention one of my kids names and frankly it cracked me up! The whole naming your baby thing is a really big decision. The pressure of picking just the right name; not too common, not too unique. Do you go with a family name or a Biblical one or just make one up? Or do you take a traditional name and spell it differently? Then there is the whole challenge of the images (or people) associated with a name. We all have those names we hate strictly because there was that one girl/boy. Or the name that conjures images of everything you want for your child. The challenge is when you put Mom and Dad together and Mom’s favorite name turns out to be Dad’s old girlfriend’s name. It adds a whole new wrinkle to the game.

Lots of writers have tried to help with the process with books of names. Some have their meanings, origins, or even what their future will hold if you choose that name. You can see the top 100 names from any year for boys or girls. And back in the day, when I was having babies, we didn’t always find out the gender of the baby ahead of time. So, we had to come up with a boy’s and a girl’s name. I could have saved myself a lot of debating had I known I would have three boys – no girls! I’m good with that – for a whole lot of reasons, but that’s a topic for another day. For today, I’ll stick with the names. I can honestly say, I’m glad I didn’t end up having to use the girl names we had picked out. The first two turned out to be rather common names for girls – not what I was hoping for.

Our goal was to find that tenuous balance between unique and normal. Personally I’m not a fan of the really unusual names. My barometer was – will they ever find it on a key chain? I didn’t want to pick names that you would find on every spinner rack at every tourist trap. But, the name that you could find now and then and be really excited that they have your name. I didn’t want a name that was just a variation; a different spelling of a common name. Then you could always find your name on the spinner rack, but it would always be spelled wrong. And they would forever be cursed with having to spell their name for people – the pre-emptive spelling. You know, where you say it and immediately spell it because you know it will be misspelled. We have a last name like that, I couldn’t burden them with two spelling nightmares.

Another criteria I had was that it could be shortened for a nickname. My real name is Judy, not Judith, just Judy. I always wished it could be shortened. Sometimes it is, my hubby and a few friends call me Jud, but I never know how to spell that. Jude -like the Beatles song- is just as many letters as Judy so doesn’t really make sense. Jud looks like Judd -as in the Judds- which is not really how it’s pronounced. Thus my dilemma and my desire for a name that could be shortened. When it came down to it, we ended up with three names that can’t really be shortened. The best laid plans…

We also debated about whether to tell people the names we had chosen before we had the baby. It only took hearing one friend tell another they hated the name they had picked to settle that debate. If people know you are thinking about names they won’t hesitate to tell you what they think. Once you’ve had the baby and named him they are a little more polite. I honestly didn’t want to know what people thought ahead of time. I don’t really care about the girl from your third grade class with that name who always smelled funny. We didn’t tell anyone the names we picked for our boys before they were born and everyone loved them, or so they told us.

We went with Mason, Carter and Gage. I still like the names and only one has even made the top 100 list. So many options with so much riding on the choice. Glad that decision is behind us…


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