Category: choosing a name
by Paul Ratner
As my wife and I are counting down to the birth of our son, we are happy, eager, completely discomforted (well, that’s mostly my heroic wife) and stuck in agonizing limbo over choosing a name for our upcoming guy. It seemed like a simple enough thing to do. There are a million names out there to pick from. But immediately, we realized that choosing a name for this very new person is a tremendous responsibility. He’ll have to go through his whole life with it, responding dozens of times a day to the combination of sounds we pick out for him. And each such word carries the whole gamut of human experience in its letters.
By Gay Cioffi
When my son was about to be born, close to thirty years ago, there were very few resources for parents-to-be to turn to for ideas for names. Nothing as wonderful as Nameberry, for sure! As a veteran nursery school teacher of ten years, I had the added challenge of having favorite names already taken by my many students. I loved the name Oliver, but I would forever associate it with one of the adorable boys in my first nursery school class. And as the youngest in a family of three brothers and a sister, my older siblings had also gotten to favorites of mine, before I was even of childbearing age. I will never forget the phone call from my mother announcing that my sister Ann had just delivered a new baby girl and that she was naming her Jennifer. I went completely silent as I stood in the hallway of my college dorm. “What’s wrong?” my mother asked. I hesitated, but finally confessed that I was hoping someday to have a daughter named Jennifer. Of course, when I reached my sister by phone later that day I had only enthusiasm for the news of a new niece and her beautiful name.
When I was naming each of my three children, I was overwhelmed (my family would say obsessed) with the near impossible task of encoding more of life into one word than seemed possible. My third child, a girl, proved an unprecedented challenge. My husband, mystified, would tell me to choose a name I just liked.
But my process was different, I insisted. There had to be an origami of symbolism! “You’re like Borges,” one friend told me, confronted with an ornate justification for the name May. I don’t think he meant it as a compliment. Assorted friends and family looked questioningly at similar extrapolations on favorites like Roxana, Inka, Frieda, Silvia, Maren, Louisa, and Judith (nickname Jude, what’s not to like?). Just keep thinking, my mother advised. And think I did, though with increasing guilty anxiety. Why was it so hard?
Hey!, we thought. Here we are, a name site, with lots of regular visitors who are fascinated by names and think and know a lot about the subject, and yet they’re known by names they’ve invented for themselves. So where did those names come from?
Guest blogger Nina Badzin has a name problem, and it’s all her husband’s fault.
You would love my husband, Bryan. He’s the guy who lovingly supports my fiction aspirations, encourages trips to writing conferences, preaches delightfully quaint parenting advice, and gets constant praise on my blog.
Put all that good stuff aside for this post, because now we’re mad at him.
Get this: Bryan has lost faith in my baby naming abilities. MY abilities! Aren‘t I the person whose meanderings about baby names got reprinted on Nameberry and BlogHer? No decent person in his right mind would take away what will likely be my last chance to name a new soul.
ME: I think we should change Elissa‘s name.
HIM: Fine. Let’s do it.
ME: Seriously? She’s two.