The great co-name-drum

By Published On: December 21st, 2011

Written by: Rachel December 21 2011 Proper names are poetry […]

Written by: Rachel

Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry, they are untranslatable. —W. H. Auden

Good grief, naming people. It definitely ranks right up there on the Things I Can't Believe I'm Allowed To Do list. I mean, I(with input from Luke, of course) get to pick out what another human being will be called for the rest of their life. What? Who gave the green light on that? Clearly not someone who has ever seen me take care of a plant.

Ido think, as I'm sure does every parent, that we did a pretty bang up job on our first two kids when we put pen to birth certificate. Noah was a name I had fallen in love with even before the baby-having gene was flipped to ON in my brain. Idon't even have a concrete reason for why Ichose it back then, or where it came from, but for some reason that seems to cement its just-rightness for me. He was Noah, even before he was. Noah means “rest or comfort” and he has always been a calm and kind soul, true to his title. I'm a fan of including a nod to family, tying the new generation to the old, and so we chose Clark as his middle name—my mom's last name before she married my dad. Noah Clark: strong, solid, just right.

When it came to naming Rosie, there was no predestined, waiting in the wings, favorite girl name all-star pick. In fact, I felt a little panicked after finding out she was a she, because Noah got a name at that point in his gestation deal, and we had nada for his little sister after the jelly had been wiped from my 20-week belly. Luke and I threw around some possibilities, knowing that if there were even a niggling sense of “meh” for either one of us the name got scrapped. Ihad this romantic notion (and still do)that the right name would feel good in my bones once I found it. I also had this cockamamie notion that once a first initial had been used, we couldn't use it again—meaning “N” names were right out, as well as “L” and “R” names. Then Noah attended the birthday party of a little girl in his class who happened to have the same first letter in her first name as her mom, and it struck me that it was kind of cool that the girls in the family shared that commonality (she had an older and younger brother with names that started with different letters).

That same night Iwent back to the baby name books and cracked open the “R” section for the first time and BAM:Rosalie popped right out and settled right in to its place as The One. I loved that it was a name we could shorten (and in fact, loved Rosie before I found Rosalie) so that she could decide later in life if she wanted to formalize herself, or if she wanted to keep on keepin' on as Rosie. Luke's grandmother Mae, who was 94 at the time, was our inspiration for her middle name, and to this day Icall her Rosie Mae more often than just Rosie alone (and not just when she's in trouble). Rosalie Mae: spunky, old-fashioned, well worth the wait.

I've been feeling the itch to discover this baby's name for a long time now. The One will come, I know it, but I'm ready for it, uh, yesterday. I'm eager to talk about her in conversation with Luke, integrating the sound of her name into the everyday of our life. I'm looking forward to knowing the set that we'll have, Noah, Rosie and one more—the fifth at the table, the third in the back of the car, one more with a name suited just for her.

For now, we have a few choices that seem almost it, which keeps me tied to the baby name books (and blogs and websites, and Google searches …) hoping that we're just one page turn (mouse-click) from our yesss moment. I think it gets harder the more kids you have—you want each child to have a name that's uniquely theirs, but, for example, it's doubtful that we'll name this baby Nora (Noah + Nora = Nothankyou) or Posie, so already our choices are limited in ways they weren't for the other two. (Especially the first—we could have gone cah-raaazy with Noah's name!If only we'd known!) I find myself increasingly fascinated with other people's stories about how they landed on their children's names. Blogs like Appellation Mountain and You Can't Call It “It” are at the top of my Google Reader feed star chart. Luke is equally obsessed, sending me texts throughout the day with his latest find.

The thing is, your kid embodies their name from the start, and you see quickly that they make their name what you never imagined it could be. Because it's a name tied to a person, and not just the 16th one down on page 83 of the Baby Name Book. It's Mary. Or John. Or Pilot Inspektor. Whatever it is, it just is, and your baby makes that so.

That being said, it's time to know. I'm ready. Because if we don't find it before May, we'll just have to go with Rosie's choice, and I'm just not really feeling Tangerine Rosiemae at the moment, if you know what Imean.