What’s in a name?

by DaniGirl on April 13, 2005 · 12 comments

in Uncategorized

Jen over at MUBAR has written a lovely story about how she chose her as-yet unborn baby son’s name on the spot after being forced to provide a name to an airline reservation clerk. It’s a cute story, you should read it.

I love name stories. We knew we would name our son Tristan long before we managed to conceive him. He is named after the hero in the classic story Tristan and Iseult, but it doesn’t hurt that Brad Pitt struck just the right combination of sexy, wild and vulnerable as Tristan in Legends of the Fall (right, SnackMommy?)

Simon we had more trouble with, and although I liked the name all along, we weren’t completely sure until we met him that we had the name right. And now that Tristan calls him Simey, I begin to second-guess our choice. Sorry to saddle you with that one, big guy!

If you like to play with names, check out the Baby Name Wizard. Just type in any name in the top left corner and it shows you its popularity through the last 100 years or so. Or, just drag your cursor around the screen and watch what pops up.

For us, the challenge was not first names but family names. When I got married the first time, aka “the practice marriage,” I changed my name to his, and I think that’s a huge part of the reason I cried for hours the night of our wedding. (I’ll take “hints that maybe you weren’t ready to get married” for $300, Alex.) Even before we split, I had begun thinking about taking back my maiden name. So when Beloved and I got married, keeping my name was a non-issue.

(As an aside, it amazes me that the majority of women continue choose to change their name to their husband’s surname when they get married. I don’t know why this astonishes me, but it does. My name is such a deeply ingrained part of my identity, I couldn’t imagine giving it up.)

When we started talking about having kids, I was fine with the idea of having my surname as a second middle name, but as I got more and more pregnant, I became increasingly agitated at the idea of the kids not sharing my name. Beloved, on the other hand, was morally opposed to hyphenated names. It got so bad that we couldn’t leave the hospital after Tristan was born because we weren’t allowed to leave until we filled out his health card application, and we couldn’t decide what his name would be. We sat in the hospital room with bags packed, baby dressed, and arms crossed, each not looking at the other until Beloved eventually caved and we hyphenated Tristan’s family name. If they keep the applications on file, you can probably still see the tear stains from me trying to fill out the form while sobbing with relief.

So here it is, three years later, and every single time I have to spell out the whole damn name for a pharmacist, or to register with a city program, or just about any other time I give out the boys’ names, I cringe. It’s a lot of name. It’s only 13 letters, but it’s four bumpy syllables in unharmonious Dutch and French, and I’m starting to feel just a little bit regretful for saddling them with it. However, it’s damn cute to hear Tristan pronounce it all.

Once the boys are of an age that they are using their full names regularly, I’ll probably relax and let them use their paternal surname for every day stuff. And I’ll just hope that when they grow up, fall in love and get married, they have the sense not to marry a girl with a hyphenated name who is as stubborn as their mother.

Do you have any name stories to share?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Snack Mommy April 13, 2005 at 1:25 pm

None to share, other than to say I think you have outstanding taste in names. Simply spectacular ;~).
I thought of keeping my maiden name but was surprised that it was so important to my non-traditional husband. We compromised and I made it my middle name with the intention of passing the middle name on to my child. Hey! Wait a minute! We forgot to do that!

2 Batman April 13, 2005 at 2:53 pm

Two of my friends married each other a couple of years ago and they did the coolest thing…they combined letters from the start and end of each other’s last names to create a totally new surname. Each was able to keep a part of him or herself. I liked the idea.

3 twinmomplusone April 13, 2005 at 3:59 pm

part of my family back in Spain adhere to the norm in that country which is that every person has 2 surnames: mom’s followed by dad’s. When a woman gets married, she drops the mom’s keeps the dad’s and adds on the hubby’s (got it?)
choosing names for the kids in this household has been quite the adventure due to the merging of all these ethnic traditions
but I am proud to have kept my maiden name, getting married in Quebec helps 😉

4 Oana April 14, 2005 at 5:20 am

My Eastern European last name is pretty much impossible to pronounce in English … so I will probably take my husband’s surname, for my own ease. My only regret will be that my last name will die with my generation, since I have no male cousins or siblings to carry it on.

5 Shelley April 14, 2005 at 6:03 am

I use my maiden name along with my married name professionally, but the rest of the time I use my married name. It’s just never been an issue for me.

6 Andrea April 14, 2005 at 12:04 pm

OMG, I got married too young too, changed my name to his, got divorced and changed it back, and kept my ‘maiden’ name on my remarriage. I thought I was the only one!
OT–is it just me, or is ‘maiden’ name kind of a weird term?
Anyway. My husband and I decided that for our first child, if it was a girl it would get my last name, and if it was a boy it would get his. ANd then the other person’s last name would be a second middle name. It means our itty bitty 13 1/2 lb sixteen-month-old daughter has one of hte longest names in the history of Canada, but it’s worked well for us and my husband has never made the slightest issue over having a child who doesn’t share “his” name. If/when we have another, that child will have his last name.
I have two sets of friends who chose a new last name jointly when they got married. Just flipped through the phone book until they found one they both liked. I thought that was pretty cool, too.

7 Danigirl April 14, 2005 at 12:39 pm

Andrea, how funny we have all that in common! I LOVE what you did with Frances’ name. I had originally proposed something similar, but Beloved vetoed it – just as well, I guess, since we haven’t managed to scrounge up a daughter yet!
xo Danigirl

8 Danigirl April 14, 2005 at 12:39 pm

P.S. I also thought the same thing about “maiden” name when typing up my post!

9 Nancy April 14, 2005 at 12:47 pm

Been consciously avoiding this section. Those of you who matter know the meaning of my son Ben…not sharing it here…but you get it. We didn’t know the meaning until way after we knew we wanted that name. We always knew we’d have a Ben, it was the ‘other’ name that was still undecided until we learned just exactly what we were delivering.
Boys names list, ONE name…Girls names was a different case, we had too many to choose from, our list was looooong. Both boys each have a middle name in respect of one grandfather.
I am also a little sad at the thought of my ‘maiden voyage’ name not carrying on. I opted for the married name which is also what my children have. My brother will not be having children so the end of our family name will stop there, kinda sad.

10 Andrea April 14, 2005 at 2:51 pm

Yeah–I mean, sorry to offend any delicate readers, but I was not a maiden at either my first or second marriages. It seems weird to me that we’ve hung on to the terminology of linking a woman’s marital status with her sexual history.
And thanks.
I think having changed names once gives one a different perspective. Now I know how much of myself I lost when I changed my name. But I do find it a bit depressing how few women keep their own names–apparently in the states it’s 5%.

11 Danigirl April 14, 2005 at 3:14 pm

LOL Nancy, I was going to write something about Ben, but I keep forgetting that not everybody lives life revelling in the spotlight like me. See, I do on occasion restrain myself.
Andrea, I’m *hoping* for your sake that if you weren’t a “maiden” for marriage #1, you weren’t one for marriage #2 either. 😉
Since my brother has both procreated and produced a boy, I guess our family name will continue regardless of my contribution, but I see the boys as so much of an extension of myself that I think that’s why I need them to have my name. Note to self: debate for another day = whether it’s a good or bad thing that I see the boys as an extension of myself…
xo Danigirl

12 sam April 25, 2005 at 10:03 pm

I just found your site through…MUBAR? or Mother-of-all-Blogs? At any rate, I found it and am enjoying it.
As for names — I kept my last name. And my son has my last name (I’ve always wanted a child with my last name). What’s astonishing to me is how many people can’t understand why, or how, we did this (it was pretty easy).
We just received a letter from one of our more traditional friends, addressed to “The [husband’s last name]s”.
I thought it was funny, because he’s the only one in this house with that last name.

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