Tuesday, November 13, 2012

on choosing names

Jeff and I have our fair share of disputes and "discussions," as does any married couple.  However, we do share a similar aesthetic.  We tend to be utilitarian over trendy (or even design-oriented) in our choices of clothing, furnishings, household items, etc.  We both like solid and neutral colors.  We typically only buy items when we need them, and one of my pet peeves is having more than one of anything in the house (except things like toilet paper and paper towels). 

So I was gearing up for a little bit of a discussion when we first began discussing baby names for "Baby G," as we called Vicki Jo when we first found out about her.  We decided on names before we knew her sex. 

I took a deep breath, sat down, and said, "If it's a girl, I'd like to name her after my mother:  Vicki Jo."

Jeff nodded.  He replied, "If it's a boy, I'd like to name him after my father:  Jeffrey Todd Grammer, III (called Todd)."  Jeff's dad and his stepmom died in car wreck in 1991, with Jeff and his half-brother Steven in the backseat.  The word "trauma" doesn't really begin to encompass the feelings that are related to this incident.  It is a central event in Jeff's life, shaping his perception of himself and his relationships to all his other family members.  I completely understood Jeff's desire to honor his dad in this way, and I think the name Todd is pretty cute to boot (and it ages well - not weird to think of a one-year-old Todd, or a 45-year-old Todd). 

And that was it!  No more discussion, no revisiting it.  We just went with it.  I was really expecting a lot more negotiating.

It was a little weird to get used to calling the baby Vicki.  Not that I ever called my mom by her given name, but having a reincarnation toddling around took some adjustment.  I began to understand the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition of only naming babies after a relative who has died, rather than one who is still alive.  The legend goes that the Angel of Death may become confused when he comes to take the older person, and take the younger one instead.  I think a part of the adjustment is how Vicki Jo is inhabited by the spirit (the neshama) of my mother.  There are parts of Vicki that do seem like my mom. 

So when we found out about Baby G2, we had a similar moment.

Jeff said, "If it's a boy, I still want to name him after my dad."

I said, "If it's a girl, I want to name her Mary Rose, and call her Rosie."

The roots of this name go deep into both our families, and touch many traditions and members.  It is common in my family to name a girl Mary (my sister, my dad's sister, my granddad's sister, my other granddad's mother are all named Mary.  My grandma's middle name is Marie.  My sister is named Mary but called by her middle name, Nelle).  Rose is very common on both sides, in all its iterations.  My mother-in-law's middle name is Rose.  Her mother is named Rosemary.  My stepdad's wife is named Rosalie.  My granddad's sister is named Rosie.  My best friend's middle name is Rose.  Plus it's just so freaking cute. 

And once again, done! 

I love that these family names are not trendy.  I won't be finding them anytime soon on the "Most Popular Names of 2013" (although, to be fair, Emily was on there for a lot of years!).  They reflect our distinct heritage and the people who have made us who we are.  We hope that there are all the best parts of the namesakes in our little boy or girl.  And if he or she gets the bad parts too, at least we have some experience in dealing with them!

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