You’ve heard this before, right? Articles discussing the meaning of names? This is not that. Yes, the meanings of our kids’ names were cool to read about in books or on-line. But, that’s not why we chose them. The many name books we had were used very little for origin or meaning. In the scheme of things, that meant very little to us. What did? What’s in a name? Well, there were a few things more important to us than others. We took this job VERY seriously! We were giving a human being life, then an identity. Obviously anything that could be rhymed with poop, nipple, or anything of that sort would not work. So, Harry Brock? Nope. Do we hate him already? Then there’s the Top 10 baby names list. Back to that identity thing…. Which leads me to the most hated question when I was pregnant with baby #1, a boy. “I guess he’ll be _____ ______ _____ the 4th?” My husband is a 3rd. This has caused me hell in our life, and I wasn’t about to make that worse. Why is it so bad? Because putting a number at the end of the name does not stop the confusion of who is who. I grew up with this. My father went by his middle name because he was named after his grandfather and they didn’t want the confusion. That idea worked for my parents, who named my older brother after my dad (his middle name) and then used my brother’s middle name for him. Keeping up so far? Then came school. In the small parochial school we attended, letting others know by the first day what he answered to was simple. Then high school. Too many teachers, students, strangers. Day one and he suddenly had a different name. My father’s name. Phone calls (because remember way back then the whole family had ONE NUMBER TO SHARE – GASP!) became a pain in the ass, as some people needed me to go as far as asking for a physical description of who they were calling. Forward more than a decade, and suddenly I am getting phone calls looking for my husband’s father. I’m arguing with people anytime a legal name has to be verified for anything that my husband is who he says he is, even if their paperwork says differently. Do I want this to continue with another in the mix? Hell no! And we both felt that we had this wonderful chance to give our child himself, just him, to be. No baggage of someone else’s past, or pressure to achieve the same accomplishments. I know there are many of you out there who have named your “Jr.”, with the best reasons in the world. I’m not saying you made the wrong choice for you, so Calm Down! There was just no way we were going down that road.
So, how do we come up with something not too common, doesn’t rhyme with fart, and really means something to us? Well, we had a system. A system that started before the first pregnancy, when I was still trying to get blood sugars under control enough to get pregnant. We made our hoping list. We wrote down the names of those we wanted to honor. We looked for variations of these names, or other ways we could associate. I went to some college basketball games with my grandparents when I was younger. Fond memory for me. Our oldest’s middle name is the name of that college. His first name is a variation of a dear uncle that passed away. With each child, we went back to our original list of ideas. Two names we used were found by an addictive method – I still do it. We watched the credits of every show and movie, looking for that name that would jump out at us.
Then comes pregnancy #4. This was Viggo. Viggo made it to the list before Dax, but it just felt wrong for baby 3. We had Marco and Vida, and it felt like we were getting lazy by smashing their names together. So when we found out we were having another boy, I went into panic mode. I thought we didn’t have anywhere to start. Then I told Jackpot I wanted to bring back Viggo. I still loved it. The middle name was going to be a little harder. Nothing left on our list worked with Viggo. We couldn’t go with something like Bob, either. Too big of a contrast. And we had to carry on the tradition of pulling in a family connection. So, I presented two choices. The male version of my mother and I’s middle name, Patrick. Or, his grandfather’s last name who had passed away the year before. Humphrey. Now, know that there only seem to be two reactions available for this name – love or hate. Neither will bother me, so go ahead and feel it. I felt good about offering this one up. All the other family association names were to my family. My argument being that they all get his family’s name (the last one). This is a kinda touchy subject in our house, with me having kept my name and adding on his with a hyphen. This, I swear, is the only time you will detect a major feminist viewpoint from me, and caveman one from him. So, we just leave the subject alone.
Here was the problem: I was one of the haters of Humphrey. I tried to tell myself it was because it was his mother’s maiden name, and I really didn’t want to be reminded of her every time I heard his name. Yes, that was part of it. But, while the name sounded cool to me alone, paired with Viggo – well, it sucked. Here’s how I knew. We were at my niece’s high school graduation, and I heard every senior being called up by their full names. I realized that on three of the most important days of their lives, they would be addressed by that full name. Their baptism, their wedding day (or days – hopefully not), and their graduation day (or days- hopefully many). I heard the voice saying Viggo Humphrey, and in my hormonal state I almost started crying, thinking I’d be the worst mother ever to do that to him. Viggo Patrick. Yes. Solid. Unique, yet not over the top. Cool, yet approachable. Perfect! Except I had already handed Jackpot the keys on this one. So, for the sake of the future well-being of our unborn son, I had to act. Like any rational pregnant woman, I told him how sucky I thought his family name was, and that couldn’t be on his diploma, his many degrees and PhD, and Oh,God! what if at his first job at the grocery store they see it on paperwork and think there’s no way a Viggo Humphrey could interact with customers. He can only go get carts. and then it’s going to storm and he’s going to get struck by lightning! Does anybody else see how serious this is?
His totally rational response? He’s worried that Viggo won’t like Viggo and will want to go by his middle name instead. He might shorten Patrick to Pat, and he thought Pat sounded horrible. Because Hump sounds better?
I told him the name better be ready by the birth. He could announce it to me as he introduced him to our first visitors – Viggo’s siblings. As he said the name, Viggo Patrick, I saw the same look of complete satisfaction that we got it right as with the others. He loves it now. And if you’re a Humphrey relative, it’s not a sucky name. It just wasn’t for Viggo.
What are your thoughts on baby names? Let me know in the comments below!
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