When “Flyleaf” becomes a viable option for your new daughter’s name, you know you have tripped across the line of desperation in the baby-naming game.
My brain won’t stop naming things. Objects, concepts, food products, other people’s kids. Everything I see is crowded by “Would that [drink, tree, feeling, movie character, hippopotamus] make a good name for our daughter?”
Our boys have attractive names. I call them Q and Goose online, but their real names elicit “Oooh, I love that name!” when we go out. Not in the “Ooh, I love the name Moxie Crimefighter!” because they don’t actually know how else to respond sense, either. Just clear, solid, old-fashioned names that also don’t appear in the top 200 of any name list.
Playful names as boys, yet strong names as men.
So I can’t exactly name this baby girl Emma Isabella (#1 and #2 on the girl names chart). But I also don’t want to name her Feather Stonehenge.
I noticed a kerfuffle a while back when it was suggested that naming a baby is the equivalent of branding a business. I understood the bemoaning from parents that “just like the name Moses, damn it,” but I leaned toward agreeing that it is a bit like branding.
Certain names elicit distinct preconceived notions, fair or not. Often not. But the truth still prevails.
For our new daughter, I want something that evokes the feminine, strong, quirky, intelligent, humorous, confident images I see when I think of her.
For our new daughter, I have been turning my brain inside out.
One night, in my desperation, I turned to twitter. If you ever want a thousand responses and opinions, ask twitter what you should name your baby. And I dare you not to eventually offend someone that actually did name their child “Turquoise Honeycutt.” I dare you to not be impressed with their insight.
I shared with my followers that I was looking for something earthy, sexy, old-fashioned, and yes, a little bit Southern.
Picture a young Blueberry Girl, smelling of green and light. She has long hair that hints of the bite of lavender. True lavender, not the sticky sweet smell you find in cheap dish soap. There is nothing sticky sweet about the daughter in my mind.
Well, maybe the sticky sweet cinnamon from the bun she offers you in apology for kicking your ass a bit that one time when you both faced off against the dragon.
Yes, I picture her a kick-ass princess. Half glitter-covered, half mud-besmudged. Kind, mischievous, always intriguing and rarely predictable.
Such a name for this child.
We finally began to hover around the names “Evelyn” and “Eloise.” They worked and they didn’t work at all. The boys loved the concept of calling her “Weezer,” but my husband felt it played directly against images of strength, evoking instead images of wheezing.
I couldn’t help loving the idea that half o' Chiquapin Parish'd give their eye teeth to take a whack at Ouiser!
Thus began the ultimate battle in our marriage: Her Name.
Every name I offered, he conquered. I had always been taught that you should refrain from criticizing unless you have an alternative to offer.
My husband seemed to have missed that day in his rearing.
As Nameberry had quickly become my new best friend, I was thrilled when I found an article by Looky, Daddy! about the baby name debate as it pertains to marriage. In short (though the article made my husband and I roll laughing, so it’s worth checking out), his wife and he were in such a deadlock over naming their twin daughters that his wife offered the following solution:
You cannot remove a name from the list without replacing it with a better one.
Brilliant. Except for the fact that we were tapped out for names. And the ones we had shaky tolerance for, largely the “What if it’s a girl?” names from our last two pregnancies, were soon to be abolished.
In my plight, I decided to try to approach our daughter’s name from a different direction. I began ordering her clothes. I began dressing this little girl, as I pictured her at 6-12 months old. Building our daughter out of cotton and necklines. Hoping to find her name among the stitches. And it changed everything.
The day the first funky little dresses arrived, I held them up and asked myself, “Would an Evelyn where this?” The answer was a resounding, “No.”
Would an Eloise where this?
Only if her mother made her.
Would a Maura where this?
She wouldn’t know what to do with this frock.
Would a Laurel where this?
Maybe if all of her other clothes were dirty.
Only one name remained when the dust settled. The name you will come to know our daughter by…
But not the name that will be on her birth certificate.
You hate me now, don’t you? Look, we’re all new to social media and none of us are truly certain of how our use of our children’s names will pan out once they hit high school and Google themselves. So I will continue to use pseudonyms for our children, even though you helped me name our daughter. Forgive me.
But I will tell you how we discovered her.
Toward the end of a long weekend of brainstorming, we reached Sunday and my brain was frazzled. For whatever reason, I had come to the end of my baby name rope. Our family spent a long Sunday playing on the beach, eating pizza out, and finally cruising the beach for a long drive in search of the perfect sno-cone.
Secretly, I had been mulling names the whole time. My eyes were beginning to glaze over as I thought, “Would ‘Curb’ be a reasonable name? What about ‘Sea Oat'’ for a girl?”
When I failed to properly respond to the scoring of the perfect black cherry sno-ball, Maguire, my husband, said, “Look, let it go. I promise you, we’ll have a name before we go to bed tonight. I promise. I’ll find it.”
Something about his tone made me believe him. Perhaps it was the fact that my secret mulling was apparently written all over my brow.
The evening came and went, the boys were fast asleep in bed, and Maguire was browsing guitar sites online. I skulked off to bed, refusing to acknowledge that we had not found that name, as promised.
After about 20 minutes of watching the Food Channel and deciding that “Brulee” just wouldn’t work, either, I flipped the channel to a lame romantic comedy that I had seen before but whose pretty stars distracted me well enough in my misery.
And then Jude Law said her name.
I pulled my roly-poly body from the bed, strolled (okay, possibly stomped) into the living room and stated her name. Her name.
Maguire looked up, smiled, and simply said, “Done.”
That’s our girl.
If you try hard enough, you’ll be able to figure out her name.
Several of you suggested it on twitter that night so many months ago. If you guess, I’ll tell you. I shared it with anyone that cared to listen at BlogHer. Trying it out, sampling reactions, savoring responses. I simply don’t want it searchable on Google.
I promise you, it is her. It is green and light, old-fashioned and Southern, with a shot of whiskey and a chaser of romance.
You will know her by “Olive.”
We will meet her in October.
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