A Rose By Any Other Name

**Linking up with MamaKat today: 5.) Share how you came up with your kids names!**


When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, the first thing we did was pick names. For whatever reason during those 14 weeks, I was convinced we were having a girl and focused mostly on those names. With Matt and I both being teachers, picking out a name was near impossible.

Natalie? Nope, she was the slutty, bitchy girl in my 6th period Geometry class.

Mark? Nope, he was the crazy one in 4th period who was banished from the lunch room.

Erika? Nope, she drove me absolutely nuts for 2 years in a row.

Not to mention that my husband must have been one hell of a nickname-caller when he was young because he can come up with a nickname for EVERYONE! If you’re having a baby soon, you should run the name past him to see if he can come up with anything. We really had a difficult time coming up with something we both liked, that didn’t have a nasty nickname or didn’t remind us of some jerk in class.

But then you’d think of the kids that absolutely stole your heart.

Adam? He was that super sweet kid in 7th period. You hope your kids turn out half as good as him.

Lizzie? The super smart and beautiful girl in 3rd period who you adored.

You’d never met a Sarah you didn’t like or a Matt that drove you crazy. But still a name for the rest of their lives? That’s a huge task.

We came up with a girl’s name. We had a boys’ name too. Then I had a miscarriage and I felt like those names died too.

When we finally were pregnant again, I was much more cautious even though by week 6 I already had names and personalities and sports they would play all picked out. You can’t help yourself, right? We tossed around so many names before finally deciding on Olivia. We wanted something unique but not weird. (In 2000, Olivia was still unique. Now they’re filling at least 2 seats per classroom.) Something timeless that would sound good as a child and a grown-up. I would always practice their names pretending they were a news anchor to see if it flowed and sounded right. “This is Olivia Townsend, channel 13 news.” Yep, sounds good. I would also imagine them being inaugurated as president of the United States. “President Olivia Townsend!” Yep, that sounded good too. Then, of course, you have to go look it up and see what it means. Olivia means peace. Sounds good to me.

And then you realize you need a middle name! I wanted to name her after my wonderful mother, of course. Her first name is not a good middle name so I was going to go with her middle name, Marie. But I really loved Jane. For no reason at all. I just liked the way it rolled off my tongue. I could imagine shouting “Olivia Jane!” when she got into trouble just fine. But I left it up to my Mom. She picked Jane. So Olivia Jane it was. It fits her perfectly…from the meaning of peace all the way down to the fact that it sounds perfect when I’m yelling.

Four months later, when we found out we were pregnant again, we were back at square one. We picked out a girls’ name and still had our first choice for a boy’s name. Matt’s family has a long tradition of the first-born son being named Charles. Did I ever mention that it drives me nuts when someone is named something other than what people call them? That’s a lifelong peeve of mine. And then I marry into a family where that’s the tradition. I didn’t like Chuck or Chuckie, Charles was too formal and Matt had a psycho roommate called Charlie. Chase was a goofball in my class, Chaz sounded too sleazy. It was onto the middle name that would sound good as a first name but also as a middle name. Oye. We went round and round and finally Matt came up with Gabriel. It was music to my ears. Neither of us had any Gabes in class and the only one I ever knew was a sweet boy in my elementary school. There weren’t any horrible nicknames that Matt could come up with. We were set. I actually fell in love with the tradition of Charles as well. Gabe would be named after 8 grandfathers. 8! He would have the same name as his Dad and his Grandpa. There’s something really special about that.

Three years later, when it was time to pick again, we had a little bit of a harder time. We had so much freedom this time! We already had a girl, had a boy and anything was up for grabs. I liked Henry for a boy but got vetoed in a major way by Matt. I loved Sawyer or Maya for a girl. We settled on Maya Marie if it was a girl. For a boy we went round and round between Mitchell and Matthew before we decided that we both really loved the name Matthew. I had never met one I didn’t like. And he would also be named after his father. Once we came back to it over and over again, it was a perfect fit. The best part? Now in a time of Cadens and Jacks and Evans and Kingstons and Holdens, Matthew is unique and retro. My Matthew is the only one in his grade. It fits him perfectly. His middle name, unfortunately, drives me crazy. I named him after my former stepfather who I loved with all my heart and thought was a wonderful man but turned out to be a horrid person. Matthew is too young to remember so we tell him his middle name is after our dear friend, David. That works, right? I’ve thought about changing it…but it costs too much money and I would still remember that I had to change it because of that anyway. So it is what it is.

Olivia Jane for president. Charles Gabriel reporting. Matthew David signing off for the evening.

We did good, didn’t we?


12 responses to “A Rose By Any Other Name

  1. Cute stories! Did I ever tell you that Sawyer was our boy name for all 3 girls? It is Donato’s middle name & his mom’s maiden name. Too funny! We need to get together again soon!

  2. I love names and I love hearing people’s naming stories. This did not disappoint. We have names some call different, but we love them because of the meanings associated with them. Stopping by from Mama Kat’s

  3. Your kids definitely have great names. I will admit that when I named our Olivia, I knew how popular it was but loved the name so much the popularity didn’t bother me. And so far, we’ve only run into one other Olivia and that was in her gymnastics class. Like you, I love the punch of a single syllable middle name with Olivia. Our O is Olivia Kate.

  4. My husband was the king of nicknames, too! It drove me nuts!

  5. We had a hard time picking names too, mostly because I refused to have any Ls or Rs in their names AND the names couldn’t be in the top 50 for the past 10 years on the social security website list. Yeah, I did way too much research, but I’m really happy with our Annika & Mayzie girls.

  6. I love all their names! Olivia is so classic and it was on my girl list forever- until I had a boy and named him “Gabriel” and then I told Marty there is no way I could name #4 if it was a girl “Olivia” because then I’d be taking another one of your names 🙂 I also love Matthew!
    I agree- it’s hard being a teacher and trying to name your own child! Too many stories. I had a “Grace” in my class and she was one crazy girl. Though I felt like “Lily” and “Grace” sounded good together and “Grace” sounded like such a sweet name. No way could my Grace be crazy, right? But then I had Grace and she is of course sweet, but rather crazy too 🙂

    Great story about the names!

  7. i hear ya on the whole teaching thing. austin and i were both teachers when i was pregnant with hannah and he totally vetoed “katie” because of a wacko student of his and i could never have a “lucas”. my big thing was always how the initals looked together. i’m not really a fan of ava’s monogram, but i’ve learned to deal with it. we have family ties in all of our kids’ names, which is something i love! i love to hear stories of how people come up with their kids’ names 🙂

  8. Very sweet! My son has a family name too, and when our daughter was born, we wanted her to have a similar family connection and started our own girl name tradition. Up until her, my husband’s family only had sons, so we are setting the standard for (hopefully) future granddaughters!

  9. All great names, and I love the process you both went through to pick them out. My dad’s family is really big with nicknames too. His siblings still call him Butch, and I have great aunts and uncles whose actual names I never learned.

  10. Obviously we threw caution to the wind with the nickname possibilities 🙂 I keep telling Andy I want a shirt that says Mother Tucker. So, there’s that 🙂 AND, we’ve only called on of our three by their real name/first name. The boys may hate us forever, especially at the begining of the school year, during roll call, when they’re trying to explain what name they go by 🙂 I could talk about/read about/write about names ALL DAY LONG. Loved this glimpse into your process. Loved the “trying the name out” methods you used too!

  11. I’ll never forget Matt helping us with names for the triplets by giving me all the ways they could be teased. It’s one of my most favorite memories of my pregnancy with them! He was in the back of my mind when we were naming Eli and Keegan too 🙂 For the record, we went with Eli over Elijah because we knew people would shorten his name to Eli anyway. Now he gets called Ellie at the doctor’s offices… So sad what people have done to names in their creative spelling 😦 Keegan I found on the internet looking at baby names. I just started looking at meaning and not names. His struck me because it meant “fiery and stubborn” both of which he very much is. Apparently I knew it already in the womb!

  12. Yes you did! I love all the names they are a perfect fit 🙂

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