What’s in a name?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Most of us don’t have the opportunity to choose our names.  We are given them at birth and they may or may not come from family tradition, cultural recognition, or contemporary trend, or maybe even bucking the trend completely.

I do not use the long form of my name because I don’t think it suits me.  It doesn’t sound right.  That doesn’t mean that I hate my name, I just don’t feel the long form reflects who I am.  The long form of my name is far too elegant than the person I am.  I don’t think that I’ve ever been called by my long form name even when I was a child, apart from when I was being told off. Would I have become a different person if the long form name had been used all the time?  Who knows.  In fact, now most close family use the shortened short form.  My long form name can be shortened, then shortened again, and only those in the inner circle are allowed to use the shortened short form.

I know when we were thinking about names for our child we agreed that we didn’t want to use family names, we wanted names that sounded good when the child was a baby, growing up through school, and as an adult and older person.  Something that was not timeless.  We didn’t want our child to be made fun of at school because of a strange name.  We didn’t want their initials to spell a word or be synonymous with anything else.

Both my name and C’s actually mean the same thing.  C’s name from Hebrew means “victory of the people” and mine means “victory”, the goddess of victory from Latin origin. (Yet another accidental coincidence between us).  When we were looking for names for our child, we weren’t aware of the gender so needed to consider options either way.

We quickly settled on male gender names early on.  I had a couple of names in mind that I liked both the long and short form of.  Although having said that we didn’t want to use family names, one of those was actually C’s dad’s name.  We would probably have used that as a second name.

About a week before our baby was born, we still hadn’t really settled on female gendered names. This was the only time that we actually looked through a baby name book for some ideas.  We eventually settled on two names we liked that were good for a baby and for an older person.  Neither was a name used by family members, at least in the current alive generations.  We couldn’t decide which way round they should be though.

When our baby was born, she was a girl (the third one for C) so we had to decide which way round we would use the names we had chosen.  I recall the midwife asking what her name would be and I said that until we saw her properly we would decide which way around then.  When we saw her face we decided which way round to use the names.  And thus R was in the world.  I did insist that her second name be spelt a particular way in a nod to my preference for Tudor history.

As R grew up she evolved through a number of nicknames.  When she was a toddler we called her LB, short for Little Bum.  Probably not something she’d like to be called now.  Then we started to randomly call her Charley.  This doesn’t relate to either of her names, and is probably a derivation of our surname.  This is actually a nickname that she adopted for herself in later life.  I remember calling out for her as “Charley” in the town centre when I was looking at a spice stall and the lady behind the counter said “Oh Charlotte, that’s a lovely name”.  I replied with a smile saying “yes it is, but it isn’t hers”. 

Step daughter #1 and her husband are about to have their first child, which they already know is female.  We talked a while ago whether they had names chosen and I think they had a middle name sorted but still not settled on a first name.  We also discussed what C as a grandparent wanted to be called.  There are two sets of parents and step-parents so there’ll be an awful lot of grandparents.  C would definitely be Grandad. 

I was asked what I wanted to be called and I just said call me by my name.  I don’t particularly want to be called Nanna or Granny etc.  As one of the step-parents / step grandparent, I don’t feel it appropriate to be called such a familial name when there is already two Grandma’s / Nanna’s or whatever E and M’s mothers want to be called.  That’s doesn’t take anything away from my connection with the child, but it will just avoid so much confusion when it starts to talk about grandparents. 

It’s not a name that defines a person, but who they become.  I definitely do not feel particularly elegant or victorious about any aspect of my life and I’m certainly not a goddess of anything, so probably not fulfilling the meaning of my name. I am who I am and would rather people recognised me by my actions than my name. 

Whatever our name is, we can make it our own.


One thought on “What’s in a name?

  1. What a lovely post.

    One does wonder where some parents gets their children’s names from 🤣

    Just looked up my name (long version, which I consider posh if used in full with my last name) and its says ‘fair one’! Not sure I’m particularly fair 🤣🤣


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