It didn’t take me long to come up with a name for my first child. And by that I mean his name was picked out before I even walked down the aisle with my ex-husband. In fact, we knew what his full name would be if he was a boy: Addison David, named after my ex-husband’s great, great grandfather, with his middle name after my father. If it was a girl: Ella Kathrine, the first name was just because we liked and would listen to Ella Fitzgerald during sexy time, and the middle name was after yours truly. We quickly decided we like Anna Kathrine better as this was my great-grandmother’s name and we exchanged letters in the mail until she died.
I must also add, at the time these names were picked out (around 2000), there were not a lot of people named Addison or Anna, though now there are oodles, I know. However, it wouldn’t have mattered either way; I still love the names and even though you can find an Addison in every cul de sac from Northern Maine to Southern California now, I would not change a damn thing.
My second child was born, and we stuck with Anna (I still liked Ella, but there was way less sexy time in those days and we were over blasting Ella on the stereo and getting it on in the kitchen). I so loved the elegant simplicity of the name, and I still do. By the time we got to our third child, we named him Jack. There were no Jacks in our family; we just think the name is ridiculously cool. When we heard there were at least four Jacks in his second grade class, we still didn’t give a shit. His name suits him and I can’t imagine him being anyone else other than my Jack (sometimes Jackson, or Jackie, depending on my mood — but he hates those names so I only use them when he’s in trouble.)
My point is, we named our kids what we wanted regardless of trends, popularity, if it was a family name, if Great Aunt Marge would like it, or if it sounded like my favorite fruit.
There was never a time I was unsure, needed someone’s approval, or decided to keep it a secret for fear someone would steal my name. And I had zero energy to make up a name, but if you did that, go you!
Over the 16 years my oldest has been alive, I get asked on the regular if I realize I named him a “girl’s name.” (Side note: there’s no such thing as girls’ names or boys’ names, only names.) I’ve also heard, “How did you come up with Jack? Is there a Jack in your family? It’s just so … overused.”
I have no answers for these questions because when I named my kids, I never looked back, regretted it, or thought I should name them a specific name out of obligation.
You can honor a family member and not name your child after them.
You can name your child after your favorite season, or where they were conceived. Fuck, you can make up a name if you want, who flipping cares?
All that matters is you name them something that settles well with you in your soul. We have enough things to regret in life, like that third margarita we had last night, without thinking we were wrong to name our child after a family member to “keep the tradition going.”
I’d also like to think if someone named their child after a citrus fruit, or cut of meat, they thought long and hard before signing the birth certificate so leave them the hell alone.
I realize names of children are a sensitive topic — some want to be different, some like more traditional names, and some want everyone to like the name they pick out a shit ton but not so much someone takes it for their own child. The horror.
At the end of the day, don’t most of us call our children nicknames we’ve made up for them anyway? My oldest, Addison, is constantly referred to as Add. My daughter is known as Lady around these parts, and has probably forgotten her name anyway. My youngest is regularly called Jackson, Jackie, Bubbles, Bubby, Butterbean, or Butterbud. (Not sure why he has such a plethora of nicknames but I blame all his shiny baby fat).
Since the Interwebs have come along, it seems they’ve stolen our joy about what to name our kids. We are criticized, questioned, and the selection makes many second guess their decision.
I’m over the moon that I get to save my remorse for other things, like not breast feeding my babies long enough, not using cloth diapers, and not sending any of my children to preschool (thereby ruining their chances of getting into an Ivy League college, according to some).
Their names though? Those puppies have kept me grounded. And I count them among the biggest wins of my parenting career.
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