By Emily Harrington
What’s in a name? To me—a lot. A name stays with you your entire life. From my experience, a name can say a lot about a person: what generation they are from, their ethnicity, or whether their parents lean towards conservative and classic or funky and adventurous.
I was going to be a Dawn because I was born when the sun was going up. I know, collective ahhhh. My mom fought that one and I ended up an Emily. It’s strange, because I am an Emily. I’m not a Dawn. I’ve grown into my name and can’t imagine myself any other way.
Think about the names: Linda, Susan, Janet, Nancy, Joan, Beverly and Pam. What images are conjured up? I envision a 50 to 60 year-old Caucasian woman, approaching retirement with a grandchild or two. You just don’t hear about of a lot of Lindas being born today. Names can be very telling of the times and the person’s demographics.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve pondered my future children’s names. And they’ve changed over the years as I have. When I was younger, Summer and Parker were my go to names. In my mind, Summer would be spunky, energetic, smiley and blonde. Parker would be handsome and athletic.
But, then I met a Summer I didn’t like, and it ruined it for me. I’m a bit name sensitive. If I meet someone I don’t like or don’t mesh with, I’m turned off to their name. For the boys name, Parker wasn’t very popular when I had imagined my future son would be a Parker, and then it seemed to blow up everywhere. All of the Top 10 boys’ names began to list Parker, so I lost interest in that name. I knew I wanted something unique. I didn’t want him to be one of five Parkers in his class, as I had been one of many Emilys.
A friend did give me a valuable piece of advice, though. She said whatever names you pick out for your future children, you shouldn’t tell other people in advance. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone will share it with you.
I’m finding this true, even when speaking hypothetically with family. Subtly, both sides of our families drop a family name into the name game.
“I’ve always liked my great grandfather’s name.”
“Your grandmother’s name is really pretty.”
I do like the idea of incorporating a family name into the equation, but want to do it only because we want to, not to appease our parents.
Another interesting trend in the name game is alliteration. This concerns me, because after two of the same first letter, you’ve really pigeonholed yourself. For example, you have a little girl and you name her Emily. Then comes along a little boy and you think it would be cute to name him Ethan. Surprise, here comes a third. By this time you’ve got two “E” names, you can’t stop there. Add an extra layer of alliteration goodness, if the letter starts with one of the parent’s names. Before you know it, mom, Erica is walking Emily, Ethan and Erin to school. That’s a mouthful.
Summer and Parker came from a much younger me—a naive, idyllic part of me that thought a name would make the person and not the other way around. I’ve grown up a bit since then. My husband and I have landed on a girl’s name and a boy’s name that, after much compromise and negotiation, we can happily live with.
Emily Harrington is a 29-year-old townie on the cusp of full blown adulthood. She’s a wife still in the honeymoon stage and a mom of a borderline psychotic mini-Australian Shepherd. She has a full-time job in communications/marketing and a full-time life outside of work.