Thursday, July 29, 2010


I recently heard my daughter's name on the playground.

Obviously, I don't have a daughter. But I have the feeling she's waiting in the realm of "out there somewhere," and when she gets here (if she ever does) she has a first name. And about a zillion middle names, because, well, I love names.

It was sort of jarring to hear this name that I'd been keeping in mind since before Westley was born suddenly out in the open. And from another mother, talking about some other little girl. Not that I get to call "dibs" on a name just because I like it. But I'm always on the lookout for names that I don't hear called out across playgrounds or read on stick-on, library-story-time name-tags.

I mean, it's a little odd, when I'm out in public somewhere without my husband, and someone mentions or calls to "Rob." I know they're probably not talking about my Rob, but my head still swivels around, checking. I'm briefly distracted, shaken off my own train-of-thought by this familiar name.

The thing about naming babies is that there will always be someone out there with the same name. Maybe not many someones, but someone will have that name. Because if I've thought of it, some other mother or father has also thought of it. Then again, knowing that doesn't keep me from feeling a little bit like someone has stolen my intellectual property when I hear "my" name out in the world.

One of the reasons I chose Westley's name was that I didn't know a Westley. (Though interestingly, I've run into lots of Olivers lately.) And in two and a half years, I never heard another mother calling my child's name. It seemed like I had somehow managed to come up with a name that no one else was using. Then, finally, last week, I was having a "coffee date" with Westley, and the women at the table across from me were having one of those conversations that I can't help but listen in on, both because of the volume and the subject. One of the women was very pregnant, and the two women were discussing baby names. I could've sworn one of them said something about a new baby named Westley (or maybe it was Wesley. Unless someone has Martha Stewart-like articulation, it's often hard to hear the T).

I desperately wanted to say something to them. Something along the lines of, "Excuse me, but did you say 'Westley'? 'Cause that's his name, and I never hear it around, and..." Yeah. There's not a lot to say, without sounding like a weirdo.

Just like it would've been totally creepy if I'd said to that woman on the playground, "Wow, awesome name. I was actually going to name my daughter that!" That's creepy, right? I mean, I suspect that every parent has some version of the my-child's-name-as-IP thing, to one degree or another. Because, in the end, it doesn't really matter how many other people share that name. It will always be, to the parents, their child's name first and foremost.



Amber, The Unlikely Mama said...

Now I'm just dying to know what the name is!
I don't hear my name very often (unless it's a stripper on TV, ha). But, there were 3 other Ambers in my H.S., and the ONLY one in my grade ended up seated next to me in English class. Poor planning on the school's part ;D

I used to hate my name, and wanted to be a "Stacy", but now I'm cool with it, and kinda sorta hate it when someone else has it.

Baby in Broad said...

If I get pregnant again, and the baby is a girl, you'll find out what her name is. (Mean, I know.)

I never liked my name. Because no one had it. I wanted to be a Megan or an Ashley or even a Nicole. (People always call me Nicole.) I'd still kind of like to change it, actually, though not to Megan or Ashley or Nicole.

Amber, The Unlikely Mama said...

Ha, big meanie! No, I understand. We never shared any of our names when I was pregnant. Wouldn't even find out the sex, so so mean :P

So, what would you change yours too now if you had the chance?

candace said...

Well I chose the name Emma because of significance, and not because apparently Rachel from friends named her daughter Emma or because it was the #1 name the year I gave birth. Actually I didn't know any of that until after she was born. However, she is going to know a lot of Emma's in her life but to me her name is special.

Siracusa said...

Have you played with this?

Also, a little reading for when you're bored...
which is in the category of things that almost made me pee my pants while reading.
I'm a baby-name buff, although currently sans child, so I getcha.


OH GOD IT HURTS!!!! IT HURTS!! The curiosity is KILLING ME! I must know, I must know!! What was it? Can I guess? If I guess right will you tell me?

I know EXACTLY what you mean about names. I fell in deep and passionate love with my daughter's first name many years ago and vowed to bestow it upon my future daughter. And then it became one of THEE top names. By then, it was too late for me. My heart had already developed a deep emotional attachment to the name. So, my child is likely to have 12 other name twins in her kindergarten class... Every time I hear someone else call their child that name I can't help indulging in a private scoff. Like, pffffffft, I have the best one. FYI.

Molly said...

As I was reading the post I kept going back and forth between, "I hope she tells us the name," and "Don't tell us! Don't tell us!"

Not telling was the SOOOOO the right choice for this piece. But, I'm SOOOOOO curious.

To preserve my sanity, I've decided your "secret" baby name is Millicent.

Elizabeth said...

I used to hate my name, and wanted to be a "Stacy", but now I'm cool with it, and kinda sorta hate it when someone else has it.