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Today's Family Magazine

MOMMY CHRONICLES: What’s in a Name?

By Stacy Turner

When a new parent contemplates what to name their baby, it can feel like a monumental decision. You read books and scroll through online posts for ideas, mostly to gauge popular names to stay away from if you’re from the generation of an abundance of Michaels, Jennifers, and Michelles.

While you have months to decide, it can seem stressful, since the name you choose will most likely last a lifetime.  You may settle on a name you think is “the one” only to have someone point out what might rhyme with it, or how it might be abbreviated as a nickname, which could be a deal-breaker. 

When we were soon-to-be-parents, my husband and I went through the same name discussions. Since we didn’t find out the sex of our first child, we had two lists of options to choose from.  And it seemed like everyone we knew suggested names or had comments on the names we were considering. Names can be so subjective.  My father-in-law was partial to the names Caleb or Seth for a boy.  My mother-in-law thought Charlotte sounded like a chubby girl’s name.  (Sorry, not my thoughts—hers.)  A friend thought Paige would be a beautiful name — especially with our last name.  Paige Turner?  No thank you.

I remember being disappointed when I found out my name was just something that sounded good to my parents.  I wanted my kids’ names to have some significance.  But not in a made-up word way that makes it hard to spell or pronounce. In the end, we decided to veer away from any names that might cause our child to use their college fund for therapy.  And when they were old enough to ask, we wanted to have a good story about why we chose their name.

For a boy, we leaned toward Noah, a solid name that held promise.  For a girl, we chose Zoe, which means life; both names were fitting because we weren’t certain we’d be able to have a child.  My husband wanted our child’s middle name to be the same as his brother’s and great uncle’s: Allison, which brings to mind the song, “A Boy Named Sue.”  Luckily, our baby WAS a girl, so the name worked.

We knew in advance that our younger child was a girl.  We chose Ryland as her first name, from my husband’s family tree.  Her middle name is Jolie, which means pretty.  It’s fun to say, but more importantly, gives her my late father’s initials.  She complains because we usually abbreviate her first name.  When she interviewed at a swanky restaurant nearby, she wrote Ryland on her application because it “sounded fancy.”  Fancy or not, she got the job.

Names reveal something about who we are, where we come from, and where we're headed.  With so many uncertainties these days, it’s comforting to know that some new parents are choosing old-fashioned names for their little ones. Olivia and Noah made the list; and don’t tell my mother-in-law, but so did Charlotte.