She Found the Perfect Name for Baby #7
Although I’ve done it seven times, I still find baby naming weird and challenging.
I don’t know about you, but my mood, thoughts, likes, and opinions all shift daily- sometimes hourly. Oftentimes I change my my mind three or four times before I finally decide on what kind of sandwich to order and I’m supposed to name for a human baby person for, like, life?
I look back on some of the names I’ve circled and starred in my well-worn collection of baby name books and shuddered. What was I thinking? What was influencing me at the time? Who was I? It’s clear that my baby name style has taken on somewhat of a transformation over the past fourteen years. I’ve learned, after a smidge of regret about a couple of our children’s names, that I truly have to contemplate a name for a while before I can be sure it’s “the one”.
There’s been no one formula my husband and I have used in naming our child army, just a few general considerations:
Does it transition well from childhood into adulthood? How will others perceive him or her based on the name we have chosen? Will it be dated in a matter of two years or is it a great combination of cool classic? Does it rhyme with a body function or sex organ? These things matter. On occasion, I’ve thought I was 100% certain of a name only to say it out loud to an inquiring friend and realize that, suddenly, it sounds wonky and awkward. I’m then forced to tack on a quick “Well, uh, don’t quote me on that just yet” addendum.
Sometimes, stars have aligned and a particular name combination just feels ‘right’. After a five-minute conversation, we’re marking that whole “name the baby” thing off the long list of stuff that people expect you to do as parents.
In other cases, I’ve cultivated an extensive, thoughtful list of names that I absolutely adore for countless different reasons only to have my husband nix or scoff at a dearly loved name. I have spent hours making what feels like Sophie’s choice-like deletions from my catalog of badass names. I’ve debated and justified. I’ve scratched out four names on my yellow legal pad only to rewrite those name plus six more the next day.
For this, our last baby, the name we chose for her was not one I’ve been in love with or ever circled in a baby name book. I’ve never uttered it or given it a single passing thought. I’ve never known anyone with this name and, although I found out later that it’s the daughter’s name of a character on Downton Abbey, I have never seen an episode of the wildly popular PBS television series- I’m sort of ashamed- so the show was of no influence either.
Out of the clear blue one morning, within a few days of learning that we were having our fifth girl, I woke with ‘Marigold’ in my head. I dismissed it until it began popping up in my mind in random intervals throughout the day. You know how you get a song stuck in your brain and the only way to rid yourself of the eternal loop is to listen to it? It was very much like that- maybe an earworm from the womb?
And that’s when I got a little giddy.
We are Catholic and I’ve always tried to incorporate a saint’s name, or some representation of our faith, in our children’s names. I have a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary but never wanted to use the name ‘Mary’ outright.
I also wanted to honor my Mom (who is saint-like herself) without necessarily using her name. Our girl was conceived in October which happens to be my Mom’s birth month. But wait- not only in October, on my Mom’s birthday. Marigold could, in a subtle but sweet way, honor my Mom without being at all obvious.
In addition to a nod to our faith and a link to my Mom, my obstetrician who has delivered every one of our babies over the years (and means so much to my family) is named Dr. Goldsmith. GOLD! MariGOLD! Heck yeah! We can honor him, too!
I was excited and felt very clever, indeed. Her middle name would be ‘Alice’ who was my husband’s beloved Grandmother but, unfortunately for this world, passed away a few years ago.
It was settled, then, until *record scratch*. I chickened out. “It’s weird”, “It sounds like a snooty character from a British novel,” “It’s a flower- do people in America name their kids after flowers?,” “Is it too different from our other kid’s names,” “People are going to hate it.”. All of these doubts and more caused me to abandon ‘Marigold’ almost as quickly as I’d favored it.
I wavered for days before reaching out to my friend, Nameberry’s very own ‘Name Sage’ Abby Sandel. With little to no regard for her life and family, I emailed poor Abby nearly a thousand times, pleading with her to help me. Should I go with my heart or cave to my uncertainty? To us, the name is beautiful and spunky, uncommon but still familiar, both feminine and cool. And the nickname ‘Goldie’? How cute is that? Plus, there’s no other combination of names that could honor all of these people that we so adore so effectually. Even with all of that criteria, I needed to be reassured. Thankfully, when someone as mindful, rational, considerate, well-read, deliberate and thoughtful as Abby agrees that Marigold is a
“FabulousAwesomeAmazingWhatAGreatName,” gives you 5 bullet points on why it works, and says that “you should absolutely stick with it,” you tend to listen.
It is more uncommon than our other kid’s names, it’s certainly not often heard in the States, and I have no doubt that many people will think it curious or odd. For us, though, it’s full of charm and significance and devotion. I’m so glad we didn’t play it safe.
So, welcome to the world, Marigold Alice! It would be impossible for us to love you, your name, or those that it honors more than we do. But just in case you do hate your name when you’re older, it’s Abby’s fault- she’s incredibly influential and resolute. I even message her when I can’t decide between a tuna or turkey sandwich now- she’s that good.