Unsurprisingly, I’ve been doing alot of thinking about baby names lately. We find out the sex of our baby on Thursday this week. We have talked a little about names, but we decided to hold off on it until we knew if the baby was a boy or a girl, largely because we couldn’t agree on anything. I prefer traditional old-school names, husband prefers modern “short” names. I personally like long names, names with lots of syllables that roll off the tongue in perfect poetry. Husband wants one syllable or the potential for a one syllable nickname. So rather than exhausting ourselves over this, we thought we could cut the debate in half if we knew we only had to choose a boy or a girl name, not both. Sometimes I think we will not have a girl ever because we are so at odds with each other on girl names.
My friend Ashley told me about this new show on Bravo called Pregnant in Heels. I talk to Ashley just about every day so she patiently listens to alot of my baby talk, and recommended I check it out. So today I Hulu‘ed the show, sadly there was only one episode on Hulu to enjoy, but the one was pretty interesting. The show featured two couples, both who brought in Rosie Pope, a “pregnancy concierge,” to help them with a pregnancy dilemma. One of the couples wanted Rosie’s help selecting a name for their baby. This is a New York City “power couple” who valued selecting a name that would help their son start off on the right foot in their power world.
Rosie first brought in a think-tank of experts including a linguistic expert, a baby name blogger, a poet, an editor for A Small World (the elite social network — have you ever heard of that??) and I think one other person I cant remember. Anyway, this couple presented their ideas to the group, then the group presented some ideas to the couple and they talked through pros and cons of the various names. Then they took the list of names to a true focus group of professional New Yorkers who then gave their opinions. Finally the list of names was presented to this couple’s group of socialite friends at a dinner party. There was so much pressure to find a name that would define the child’s future. Is this a name that you would date, or marry, or that could be a CEO or even the President of the United States?
It was then that I thought to myself:
The name doesn’t define the person, the person defines the name!
I can appreciate how difficult it is to name something. My first “baby” was this blog and it took me forever to name it. In fact, as I have lately considered re-naming it, I have decided to keep the name Living Canvas because this blog will always be a vibrant portrait of how I am processing what I observe about life. But the process of landing on ONE name that would forever represent what I was trying to accomplish with this blog was exhausting. And after nearly 4 years of blogging I am not sure that the name of the blog has helped in anyway to determine the outcome or the success of this blog. Its the SUBSTANCE that makes the blog what it is. I say the same is true for naming people.
I have a unique name, a name that I have had to convince people to say correctly my entire life. Its not spelled weird or difficult to pronounce. Its simply two names joined together as one. It baffles me that AnnieLaurie is so difficult for people to catch on to, especially here in DC. I have had any number of reactions to my name over the years. I have folks who love it, who have even chosen to name their own children double names and told me it was because they liked my double name (I say that humbly, it is true though). I also have folks who are confused by it, call me Laurie Ann, Anna Laura, Anne Laur-ee (3 syllables), Amy Laurie, Amy, Annie, Laurie, Amy Ray, Annie Ray and more. And, I kid you not, I have had folks here in DC tell me it was pretentious of me to expect to be called by two names. After I graduated from college and I started my career as a television news reporter, the news director called me into her office to tell me that the owners of the company wanted me to stop calling myself AnnieLaurie that I should choose one or the other — and this was in GEORGIA (double-names are much more accepted in the south, no Bobby Ray or Billie Sue jokes please)! Needless to say my career in TV news was short lived. I went on to become a press secretary and used my name as a way to screen calls, if the reporter calling got my name right I took the call, if not they went to voicemail.
ALL THAT TO SAY, having this double name has not defined me or made me who I am today. I could have just stopped correcting people somewhere along the way. I could have just let folks call me one of the list of incorrect names above but I didnt. And it wasnt having the name AnnieLaurie that made me have the self-assurance to correct folks and stand my ground after several attempts in various ways to persuade me to change it. Its who we are inside, the mix of genetics, upbringing, culture, life experiences and God’s design that make us who we are, not our names. I am not a better or worse person in any way because of my name. NO one is! The person makes the name! Its not the other way around.
I was very pleased to see that, at the end of the Pregnancy in Heels, the couple needing help with the baby name decided on the name that ultimately THEY liked best. In fact, it was the name least liked by the think-tank, focus group and friend group. But all that mattered is that THE PARENTS liked it and I am confident this “power couple” will raise their child to be confident and self assured and he will make his destiny — and his name — great.
So now that I’ve named my blog, and fought my entire life to be correctly called by my given name, lets see if husband and I can successfully name our off-spring and raise the child to be who God created him or her to be and not let the baby’s destiny rest on whether its called Aiden or Sophia.