Friday, September 5, 2008

Namesakes

My mother called a couple of nights ago, semi-drunk as usual, in part to let me know that my grandmother's health is failing. Because of the semi-drunk part, I didn't ask a lot of questions and therefore don't know much by way of details, which makes it hard to determine how serious this is, but I'm guessing it's at least somewhat legitimate.


As I have mentioned before, my grandma and I have always had a special bond. One of my favorite girl names is my grandmother's middle name (and was her mother's first name, as well as my paternal grandfather's paternal grandmother's first name). I like it on its own, it has a nickname I like, and it has personal meaning. In a world in which I made unilateral decisions, this is the name I would give our child should said child be a girl (and I felt this way before any recent downturn in my grandmother's health). But P doesn't like the name. At all. And this makes me sad. Since I know it's not his favorite (okay, since I know he really strongly dislikes it), I've been trying to push for it to be the middle name rather than the first name, especially as it would go with most of the options currently on the table first-name-wise. And while he hasn't outright vetoed it, I know him well enough to sense that his silence is not one of acquiescence but one where he hopes I'll just drop it.

I'm into genealogy, and connecting to the past while honoring family tradition and legacy are important to me. And all of a sudden, with both of my remaining grandparents nearing the ends of their lives, it feels even more so. P, on the other hand, is more of the mindset that all names that belong to anyone he has known, family or otherwise, are generally off the table, I think for fear that using the name of someone else will give the impression that we're naming after them and that person (or their closest living relatives) will get some sense of undeserved honor. And in the end, the genealogy/honoring relatives thing just doesn't have any salience for him (which it doesn't for a lot of people -- I get it).

With boy names, we've done well on finding names we both like that have some meaning to us, but it's been much harder with girl names, in part because the girl names in our families are almost universally unpalatable to us (as a sampler, our grandmothers are Ed.na, Mil.dred, Wil.ma, and Est.her), either in general or in combination with our last name, and in part because P is partial to French names for girls, and we aren't French (and also in part because it's much harder to use a last name as a first name for a girl). I just wish there was a way we could both be truly happy with the name (or, for now, names) we choose, rather than just ending up with a name we "like".

6 comments:

BrownEyedGirl said...

Names can be so difficult to agree on! So I totally understand what you are saying. We once agreed to honor DH's father, then we had a major falling out with him and now it's all back up in the air. Then DH's mother's name (both middle and first) are too German according to DH and out of the questions. I'm thinking perhaps naming them a & b until they can pick their own might be the way to go! lol. (Merely kidding!)

Good luck with finding names that both fit and suit you both just fine!!!

Jen said...

I've been looking for names with family meaning as well. It's tough though, especially with boy's names. My grandmother was Brunhilda, so I feel your pain. I've been trying to use middle names to get around the naming after someone, but we don't have good ones there either.

I hope your grandmother is okay.

Nicky said...

This all sounds so familiar to me. I love my grandmother's name, but my husband eventually confessed to not liking it. Ultimately, we agreed on who we wanted to honor, then agreed to do so in a slightly less direct way -- using that person's name as inspiration, and choosing a similar but slightly different name. (This is a common approach for Jews when honoring someone.) For instance, a friend recently honored a relative named Lillian by naming her daughter Liana. The name is close, but more modern.

Hope your grandmother gets better!

Heidi said...

It just really feels like it shouldn't be that hard, doesn't it?

In our case, both hubby and I wanted to pass on a male middle naming tradition and neither was ready to concede. We finally settled it in the hospital after he was born when I asked the nurse on duty if they ever came across children with two legal middle names. She told us her own child had two middle names. I made the executive decision at that point that we would do the same.

Similar to Nicky we honored a family tradition but came up with our own version when it came to our daughter's middle name. Perhaps there is something there that he can agree on?

Best of luck to you, and I hope that your grandmother is better than you're expecting. You're in my thoughts...

Meghan said...

Can you tell I'm trying to catch up on everyone's blog? Anywho...sorry about your grandma and hope she is doing better. I'll have all of you in my thoughts

niobe said...

Names are really, really hard. But, honestly, a middle name should get a little more leeway -- in my view anyway -- since it's so seldom used.

And *I* think your grandmothers' first names are very, very cool. Well, maybe except the one that begins with W. (which I might alter to W.illa). But I realize that's a minority opinion.