What’s In A Name?

What’s In A Name?

I never imagined that Aaron and I would be soooo indecisive when it came to choosing a name for our child.

I was wrong.

We are painfully undecided with 2(!) short(!) months to go, cycling through a new favorite every few days like we’re sampling flavors-of-the-week at an ice cream parlor, enjoying the scoop but gun shy about investing in a full gallon of any one variety.  After all, one name may be very lemon sorbet-ish, while another, equally likeable name is full on mocha almond fudge – how’s a person to commit to one over the other, for life??  The proposition seems totally crazy.

In our quest for the perfect name for our son, we have drawn inspiration from the following sources, complete with real-life examples:

*Cute little boys I used to babysit (Isaiah)

*Men in the Bible, especially OT (Noah, Isaiah)

*Characters on totally sophisticated hit TV shows, like “Revenge” (Declan, Jack)

*Aaron’s childhood cabbage patch doll (Henry)

*Our favorite journalist (Anderson, Cooper)

*Common tried-and-true names that we just plain like (Andrew, David)

Some Hurdles We’re Running Into:

1.  IT’S NOT JUST A BABY NAME

Okay people, has anyone else experienced this “Aha” moment, when you realize a  name has to “work” not just for this new person as an adorable, innocent little infant, but also as a rough-and-tumble 10-year-old, a rebellious high schooler, a professional adult man, and eventually a father and even grandfather?  Seems really obvious, I know, but I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the “baby name book” culture that it can escape your attention that you’re not just giving a baby a name, you’re giving a PERSON a name – one that they’ll carry with them their whole life!  There are some names I absolutely adore for a baby or young child, but struggle adapting in my mind to fit an adult.  Likewise, there are names I can clearly envision our son with as an adult, that seem a little too mature to use as a baby and little kid.  I’m finding that most names are easier to envision on someone in one life stage or the other.

2.  NOT TOO COMMON, NOT TOO RARE

I’ve always said I don’t want to give my child a Top 10 baby name, because I don’t want them to have to compete with the 3 other Emmas or Ethans in their class. Noah has always been one of our top boy contenders, and it is currently reigning within the Top 10.  This makes it a less appealing option to me, but at the same time it must mean there’s a lot that’s “right” with a name if so many people are endorsing it.  Surely, others have weeded out any possible pitfalls, right?  On the other hand, you don’t want to go so far in the other direction by picking a name so rare, that your child spends their entire life spelling, pronouncing and explaining it to everyone they meet.  The rarest name we’ve seriously considered is Declan, and that experience has taught me that, the rarer the name, the stronger the love/hate reaction is.  People either love it for its refreshing uniqueness, or totally don’t get it and think you’re saying “Duck-lan.”

I’m also a stickler for maintaining the traditional integrity of a name, and don’t believe in re-inventing spellings – Isaiah should never be Izayah, and Dylan shouldn’t be Dillan, in my humble opinion.  I respect those who don’t agree and have a hey-day with spelling reinventions – it’s just not my cup of tea.

3. SHAKING PAST ASSOCIATIONS

If you look hard enough for a reason to pick apart a perfectly good name candidate, or to find a negative association that has somewhere, at some time existed with that name, rest assured, you WILL find it.  Whether it’s your grumpy old neighbor or that bully in middle school or the actor who’s spent all year in the tabloids, there’s always SOMEONE who has given a name you generally like, a bad rap.  For your sanity, I’ve decided, you  just have to “let go” of the less-than-stellar role models who have previously worn your name of choice, and be committed to your child making the name his own, fresh and new, fitted just for him.  Adolf and Osama are probably wise exceptions to this rule.

4. NICKNAME-PROOFING YOUR NAME

If we name our son Isaiah, I don’t want others taking it upon themselves to call him Izzy.  That’s our dog’s name.  Enough said.

Well that’s all I have, foIks. I hope you’ve enjoyed this long, rambling diatribe of the agony with which we’re crawling toward the finish line that is a blank birth certificate.  I really would LOVE to hear YOUR name-choosing philosophies, stories from your own experiences, and any other inspiring words or anecdotes you’re so inclined to share.  Feedback on any of the names mentioned here and/or advice is welcome too, though we’re clearly fickle and may or may not take it.

With love! (and confidence that we WILL eventually settle on the perfect name….)

Beth (and Aaron)

Winter Window

Winter Window

I don’t write poems very often, but I just came across one I wrote about three years ago that I thought I’d share here.  I wrote it curled up on the couch along the big bay window of our old house, watching a very ordinary neighborhood on an ordinary winter night, but it felt special to me.  I like this poem because it articulates the peace and stillness that I love about winter, especially in these days leading up to Christmas.  The photo, totally unrelated, is of me in New York City two Decembers ago. I just thought it fit the festive theme, and evokes similar emotions.  Anyway, here’s the poem…

“Winter Window”

by Beth Morris

There is rest in beauty on a silent night, not a stirring in my soul.

There’s a delicate touch to tree branches and such, a stillness to the cold.

As lights flicker on with a remnant of dawn, I’m delighted the night’s just begun.

Renewal is mine should I just keep in mind – never rush the rebirth of the sun.

Greys and blues with a glimmer of gold absent stars are the fabric of night’s curtain call.

Hurried walkers pass by, fight a chill in the air, that marks the departure of fall.

‘Tis the eve before eve before Christmas – what a whimsical gift to embrace.

Could there be one thing missing at all it would be but to gaze into God’ perfect face.

So clear and so bright even though it is night, barren trees’ silhouettes standing guard.

As though nothing can harm such a seamless display of simplicity, comfort and charm.

Subtle pinpricks of light, green, yellow and white, illuminate home after home.

Blurring time, easing minds, freeing hearts to believe all at once – maybe we’re not alone.

Blackness bleeds over clouds as the sunset allows for a slumber to transfix the air.

It is then I surrender to the mystery of winter and decide I’m content just to stare.