What’s In a Name? Apparently, a Whole Lot

Naming our daughter was very important to me and my wife, and a process we took very seriously. Seriously enough to keep several publishers of baby name books in business, possibly. This wasn’t a situation in which we wanted to be short-sighted, indulgent, cute or anything else potentially disastrous.

We didn’t want our child to have a name that everyone else was handing out that year or in the previous few years. We didn’t want her to have a name that could be easily turned into a jibe or jest. We didn’t want her to have a name she’d hate in later life (granted, you can’t predict that, so we gave her two very “normal” middle names if she wanted to use one of them later). We didn’t want her name to be something too overtly exotic, culturally inappropriate or…worse yet…made up from our own fertile imaginations. Also, we didn’t want to name her after our favorite drinks, common objects in nature or any U.S. states or foreign nations.

I’m sure we had other rules, too.

In the end, we went round and round and round with unwieldy lists and little agreement between the two of us on the best ones, though we certainly agreed plenty on the ones to reject.

The first name she got was right after the first ultrasound during my wife’s pregnancy. We nicknamed her “Peanut.” Of course, 90% of parents who see the first ultrasound probably name their unborn kids Peanut. Shortly thereafter, I decided to honor my vocation of writing and editing and nicknamed her “Comma.” Frankly, she was shaped more like a comma than a peanut anyway.

And certainly, since the time she received her actual legal given name…the name of a powerful goddess…she’s received plenty of others, a few choice ones among them being Honey Bunches of Love (or Honeybunch), Sweetie Petite-y, Sweet Petunia Pickle Bottom Butt, Oogah-Boogah, Icy, Goofalooficus and Silly-Butt.

But *THE* name; that was the challenge.

It was so important to us to get it right that we didn’t name her right away. We left the hospital with our daughter simply being Baby Girl Bouley and we didn’t commit to naming her until several days after she came home with us.

You see, by that time, we did finally have a short list of names: Zoe, Soledad and the goddess-name-I-don’t-know-if-I-will-publicly-reveal-any-time-soon. We figured that we’d be able to get a sense of our daughter, even in those early days when the only two notable things she could do were nurse and poop out that gross, gluey, black crap-like substance.

We were right to do so, because it was clear from very early on that Soledad would not suit her. Despite being the name of a highly respected television journalist, Soledad O’Brien, the name also means “solitude.” Our daughter was clearly not one to be left alone for any length of time, or be ignored for even a moment.

Scratch one name off the list.

Still, we wrestled for a bit longer between the last two. Ultimately, though, it was clear our daughter was going to try to boss us around, even before she could speak. It also seemed clear she would be a strong personality. And so the goddess name won out, for those and other reasons.

Did we name her true…or have we created a potential “monster” by giving her a name weighted with such power and authority, investing her with more bossiness than she would have naturally possessed?

I don’t know.

But it seems clear to me it’s the right name for her, so I guess we did good. Day by day, the inner goddess comes forth, and all her mom and I have to do is try to ensure she remains mostly benevolent.

2 thoughts on “What’s In a Name? Apparently, a Whole Lot

  1. Oh, the names I’ve heard (and I’m sure you have too) that have stopped us in our tracks, made us LOL, or worse, turn up our noses, roll our eyes and shake our heads. I really wish parents would think long and hard before branding their children with something they’ll have to walk around with for at least 18 years of their lives (at which time, if it is too unbearable, they’ll then be able to change it legally). The reality is, very few of us in this life can get away with the “cutesy”, “creative” and “shock value” (I’m convinced some of the names I’ve heard were purely for shock value) names in this world.

    I have one of those average names. I used to think it was special when I was younger. Now, I’m tripping over 10 million-plus with the same name, although sometimes with a slightly different spelling. Lucky me.

  2. I think the name “Female” for a boy was the winner for me some years back. Reportedly, the parent thought the Female/Male part were her choices for name. I’ve heard that “Female” was pronounced “Feh-MAH-lee” … even if an urban legend, that wins high honors for SMH-worthy consideration

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