How I Named My Baby: Maverick James
Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna, also known as the Broadway Husbands, live in New York City with their son Maverick James.
Maverick was born on March 26, 2022. Below, we speak with Bret and Stephen about how they named their little boy.
Tell me how you named Maverick!
Stephen: For years, we were always going to name a boy — maybe even a girl — McCole, which is Bret’s middle name. We would talk about Baby McCole.
Bret: It was even our password at one point.
Stephen: For whatever reason, I had a day where I was like, “We should call him Maverick.”
Bret: I have a twin brother named Bart. We are named after two characters from an old 1950s TV show called Maverick, starring James Garner. My mom was a huge fan of the show growing up. James Garner plays a character on Maverick called Bret. When Stephen suggested Maverick, I thought it made total sense. It’s sort of a family name!
Stephen: Once I looked it up and read the definition, “independent thinker”, I was done. That is exactly who I want our son to be.
Is McCole still on the list for a future baby?
Stephen: Totally! Bret is a huge Disney nerd and at one point while we were floating names, I was like, “Are you trying to get me to name our son Mickey?” Our favorite girl name has a Disney connection as well.
What other names did you consider?
Bret: We were playing with Everett, Emerson, and McCole. There’s a family name on my dad’s side, Cornelius, but Stephen threw that out right away. I think it’s a super classy name! We could call him Neil for short.
Stephen: It’s a no for me!
Bret: We thought about combining our mom’s names for a girl name — this was Stephen’s idea. My mom is Deanna and his mom is Marcella, so a girl could be named Marianna.
How do you feel about your own names, and how did that influence your choice?
Bret: Names were interesting to me in my family because my mom purposefully gave all four of her kids four-letter names — she wanted them to be easy for us to write. We have Eric, Todd, Bart, and Bret. It was thoughtful!
Stephen: Everyone was an Edward or a Robert, and my mom would tell me, “We just settled on Stephen.” They were going to call me Robert up until the last minute. I like the meaning of Stephen, “the crowned one”, but I don’t think my mom knew that.
Bret: I remember my mom telling me that she knew they were having twins, but they weren’t sure if we were boys or girls. If they had girls, they would have named them Amanda and Candace — Mandy and Candy.
People would always misspell my name or call me something else, like Brent, Burt, and Brad. I wanted to choose a name that was so distinctive you couldn’t help but know how to spell it.
What are the trendy names in your social circle?
Stephen: Hudson for sure. As a teacher, there are so many girls named Ava, Sophia, and Charlotte. And so many Katherines! I’ve taught three or four — some went by nicknames like Katya or Katie.
Bret: I know several people with children named Bennett and Preston. Preston is my dad’s name — it’s one you used to never hear but now is everywhere!
Did you have any big fears related to baby names?
Bret: Gender and identity were on my mind a lot. We’re in a time where people are claiming their own genders. We will support whoever Maverick wants to be, but I didn’t want the name to be something that couldn’t change with him.
Maverick is a very strong masculine name. We ultimately decided that this was what we wanted to name him, and we would cross that bridge as a family if it ever came to it. I’ve seen other people be very cognizant of that, using gender-neutral names like Bernie, Frankie, or Charlie, but just had to let that go.
How would you describe your personal style?
Bret: We’re very midcentury-modern masculine. That’s why the name Maverick works so well for us! His nursery is dark blue with paint-by-number cowboy paintings.
Stephen: We have his name written in rope above his crib. The inspiration came from a cowboy Mickey photo, which is framed and hanging in his room. All of the colors from that are in the nursery.
Did you pass down anything special to Maverick?
Bret: When Stephen and I first started dating in 2007, I got him a little stuffed polar bear, and he got me a plush Mickey Mouse. We always had them on our bed as representations of us, and now they’re Maverick’s. Stephen is Dada, so we call the bear “Dada Bear”, and I’m Papa, so we call Mickey “Papa Mickey”. Maverick loves them both.
Stephen: My parents refurbished a horse that’s on springs that I used to ride when I was a kid. They haven’t sent it yet, but that will be exciting!
What are the cool things for parents and kids to do in New York?
Bret: The subway is the most entertaining thing for him. We strap him onto the Ergobaby and take him on the subway — it’s so stimulating. He stares and takes everyone in. That’s the nice thing about being in the city — there’s always something to see or do.
Bret and Stephen's (and Maverick's) Favorite Things
Hello Bello Diapers
Sun Bum Shampoo & Wash
We have tons of body wash and shampoo for him, but the one we love the best is Sun Bum. It smells really good.
We can't live without Aquaphor!
When Maverick was brand new, this was the best. These have Velcro and he’s super strong, so the Ollie Swaddle was perfect.
Moo, Baa, LA LA LA!
Maverick loves all of the Sandra Boynton books!
The Going to Bed Book
Plastic Hair Rollers
We’ve been doing the Rie Method and so many of the toys are basic things like colanders. His favorite thing are these stackable hair rollers that fold into each other. He plays with these every day.
Nuna Demi Grow Stroller
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Thank you so much, Bret and Stephen!
Photos via Bret Shuford, Stephen Hanna, and Kali Deming
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