Middle Name Motifs: The filling in the sandwich

By Melissa Willets

One of my daughters likes quesadillas, but not grilled cheese. My other daughter feels the opposite: grilled cheese is okay, but she won’t eat quesadillas. I’ve never understood it. Both have cheese inside!

Recently, while preparing two similar, yet different lunches for my kids, I was thinking about my girls’ middle names. That’s when I had an “Aha!” moment. It’s what’s in the middle that matters. Lightbulb! I should stop giving my girls such a hard time about their lunch preferences.

Because really, what sandwiches the cheese, be it bread, or a tortilla, is a matter of taste, and may evolve over time. Hey, just last week my youngest asked for a grilled cheese on a hamburger bun. Go figure.

Similarly, my girls’ first and last names, the bread of their identities, are evolving. Indeed, I’ve realized I can’t control the nicknames friends call my children (I thought Brooke was nickname proof; it isn’t). I also have a limited say in who they eventually marry, and therefore, what surnames they may adopt. But their middle names – the cheese for the purposes of this analogy – will stick, and always bind my girls together. That’s why it’s important to choose wisely when it comes to middle names. And it’s why I went with a middle name motif.

It all started with my love affair with the name name Aidan. It was the obvious choice for our firstborn, if he was a he. But he wasn’t. Still, I had trouble parting with Aidan. So, I decided to add a “y,” which made it feel more feminine to me, and use it as my daughter’s middle name. And that is how my grilled cheese-loving little one’s middle name became Aidyn.

The second time around, when I was pregnant with my little quesadilla lover, I became infatuated with the boy’s name Dylan. But surprise! We were having another girl. Dylan was an insta-middle name, especially when I realized it also contained a “y.” (Pats self on back for cleverness!)

Truth be told, I come from a long line of middle name motif devotees. Consider that my middle name is Kathryn. My brother’s is Kristoffer. My sister’s is Kirsten. All three of us have middle names that start with “K,” obviously, but they are Scandinavian monikers as well, which pays homage to my mom’s heritage. My siblings and I will always have our middle names to bind us together, and I love that.

If you too like the idea of picking middle names with a motif, consider these tips:

Identify names with multiple elements in common, such as Greek names that end in “s.”

Dig deep through the family genealogy. Go back several generations for inspiration. I’m talking grandma’s grandma’s grandma…and her sister…and brother.

Give all of your children the same middle name, like your maiden name if that happens to work. Since few people can pronounce mine, it was a no-go.

–Take a page from my playbook: Adapt your first choice name for the opposite sex, as a middle name.

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting and pregnancy for four years. Sites she contributes to include WhatToExpect.com, Parenting.com, and BabyCenter. She runs daily (even as her three kids try to stop her) around her lake community outside of New York City.

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