Elizabeth Mae’s name was actually Flannery Mae for almost 3 weeks. Dave and I were secretly in love with it, until we started having doubts that Baby Girl was actually a Flannery. We are lovers of Flannery O’Connor. But we just felt in our hearts that our little girl would be named something else. As soon as we saw her, our choice for Elizabeth Mae was confirmed. Our little Bess was just perfect for her name.
We named Graham pretty early on and used his name all the time. His first name choice was Jude. But I tried it out a few times, and people thought I was saying Jew Ballew. Then we were hit with Graham. It was out of nowhere, and it made my stomach jump. It was just right. And his nickname was Gray.
Then, Adelaide was going to be Natalie. She was a December Baby and ‘nativity’ just made beautiful sense. But we weren’t 100% positive, so we decided to wait until we saw her. If she looked like my mom, she was going to be Adelaide Marie. Della, my mom’s name, is a nickname for Adelaide. One of Adelaide’s nicknames is Adele. Since our second child was taken from my womb looking like a replica of her Mema, we went with Adelaide. It is perfection. Noble and sweet. So fitting for our blessing.
We are done having children. We are done naming children. I still have a list of names I would use if we were unexpectedly blessed with another. I hear a baby name and think, “Oh, that’s on my list!” It’s silly, I know.
I also love my own name. I never wanted to change it. In kindergarten, we were asked to explain what we would name ourselves if we could have any other name. I wrote my own name and said I didn’t want it to be different. My teacher thought I didn’t understand the assignment. I couldn’t fathom a name change as a five-year-old. As an adult, I can see why people would want to go by something else. Not personally, but it was no longer a foreign concept.
But when I started naming my own children, I wondered if they would ever change their names. It was a fear. What if they hit their thirties and hate what I have been calling them? I am choosing for another human what other humans will call them. That’s a weighty responsibility. Will they ever adopt different nicknames? Or go by middle names?
It makes me chuckle to think about our girls changing their names, because their names just fit them so well. Of course, they could surprise us and become Hulgas. And we come full circle with a (Mary) Flannery O’Connor joke. Silly little Joy Hopewell. Keep an eye on that leg…
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