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.