What's Your Baby Name Crush?
You know it's a bad match. It would never work out. Your friends and family don't understand the attraction, and the practical side of you says to just forget about it whole idea. Yet your mind can't help drifting back wistfully, longingly....
You have a baby name crush. It's happened to many of us, an unshakeable attraction to an unsuitable name. Maybe it's the kind of name that's not usually your style, or is so "out there" that you couldn't pull the trigger. Maybe it's an "if only" name, ruled out by an awkward match with your surname or already taken by your brother-in-law. Whatever keeps you and your name crush apart, it never quite douses the flame. Do you fall into any of these name-crossed categories?
A name may be good for other families, but not your own. Occasionally the issue is a religious or ethnic fit, but the most common stumbling block is surnames. Speaking personally, I've always lingered over Ariadne, the name of the clever princess of the ancient labyrinth. I’m not sure it was quite in my comfort zone, but in the end it was a moot point. I couldn't pair that name with my surname Wattenberg. Not only is the result a mouthful, but the rhythm of A-ri-a-dne Wat-ten-berg counts out like "eeny, meeny, miny moe."
Another mom lost her name crush to an even more pointed surname problem. She had always loved the uplifting simplicity of the name Joy, and dreamed of giving it to a daughter. Then she married a man with the surname Sexton and Joy was out of the running.
Perhaps the name was perfect, but someone else got there first. Repeating a baby name within a close circle of family or friends can ruffle feathers, and even adults’ names can end up off-limits. One mother told me that she hesitated to name her baby Aviva because of a family friend by that name, since Ashkenazi Jewish tradition refrains from naming after the living.
Other parents find that a name’s preexisting associations are too hard to shake. The Name Lady regularly fields the question, "Can we give this name to our baby if we already gave it to our dog?" Even in cases of namesakes, the image of the honoree herself can get in the way. Take the father who was tempted to name a daughter after his grandmother, until he realized that he "could only think of [her] smoking and trying to pretend that she wasn't."
Many of the parents I've spoken with had their favorite name voted down by partners or family. One dad who loved the name Oscar said "I couldn't get [my wife] to agree and she might just be right." A mom who wanted to name a daughter after writer Isak Dinesen put it flatly: "Everyone thought I was crazy."
Sometimes the objections are specific, as in the case of a mom enamored of the name Kylie: "Instant veto from hubby because we know about four dogs named Kylie." And in a bookend to Oscar, one mother's suggestion of Felix was shot down by her husband as "too Odd Couple."
Just as often, we veto our own name crushes. A couple from Nevada was drawn to the local nature name Sierra, but reluctantly gave it up as "too common for our family." Other parents worry that a name they like is too unconventional, and thus potentially a burden to a child. A mother who wanted the name Indigo for a girl said "I still love it because I see it as an adventurous, creative name…but I see it as more limiting than a more conventional name, in a first impression way." Another mom who was drawn to the literary flourish of Ophelia and Persephone admitted that she'd ruled those names out herself. Much as she loved them, for her own kids they crossed the invisible line of appropriateness.
Are you still harboring a crush for a name that will never be yours? Please share your stories, and we can all commiserate on the lingering allure of our unrequited crushes.