Pandora’s Box

A cousin gave me some advice that I tried to heed and tried to get Jared to heed, but to no avail.

Don’t tell people what names you might use, my cousin warned. People are ruthless in making fun of them and feelings will be hurt.

This past week during a visit with my parents, we let slip some of the names we’re considering for Bob.

My cousin is really wise.

Mom didn’t like any of the names because they aren’t from the family tree. If Bob was saddled with a dead person’s name, we would pass down the history of that person when Bob asks why we chose whatever name we do. Hence, the family legacy will be alive and well – never mind that the names I like from the family tree Jared doesn’t like or are already taken.

Also, we can’t use a name from one side without using one from the other side. That uses up our two spots, and although Jared likes mine, he doesn’t want Bob to have four names.

Plan B: Use names from places we love. But that’s problematic because I want to use one from Virginia. Names like Prince George, Moomaw and Monticello aren’t really suitable for human use, though, and Jackson (River) is apparently popular right now for children younger than 5. The significance would be lost. And we can’t use Virginia, because, well, I have a crazy relative named the same.

Places in Montana roll off the tongue a little easier, but will kids make fun of Bob for being named after the lake their families camp at every summer?

That leads us to Oscar. I love the name and Jared is at least luke-warm on it. My family hates it. The entire week they found ways to sneak the name into conversation to show how horrible it is and how much fun other kids would make of Bob for it. Dad even named the brown trout Jared caught in the creek Oscar.

Just keeping the name Bob is sounding better and better all the time.

Any advice on how to at least manage the Pandora’s Box we opened?

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Something to think about before you name your baby

One of my best friends in Missoula, when I told him I was pregnant, did one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me and told me I could “have” the name he had been saving for his own baby girl some day.

The name was Isabelle, and I turned it down. I also turned down Kalani, offered by my beloved grandpa; Sage, which my mom argued for until she found out I was having a girl; and Karen, which is a name that has been passed down through both my own and my husband’s family, and was therefore favored by some of our more traditionalist relatives.

We – my husband and I – went with Willow, a totally left-field name that turned out to fit her perfectly. Or maybe she grew into it. The point is, picking a name for another human being is an awesome responsibility about which nearly everyone seems to have an opinion.

Names tend to fall in and out of favor rather quickly for girls (“Madison”) and stick around longer for boys (“Jacob”). In fact, according to a recent Associated Press article, “Jacob” has been the most popular name for boys in the United States for 11 years running. In contrast, “Emma” was the top pick for girls last year only, being being replaced by “Isabella” this year. Willow, on the other hand, is currently ranked 315th most popular.

If only I’d listened to my friend, my daughter could have a variation of THE most popular name in the nation. This year, anyway.

– MM

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Hey Miss – Ms. – Mrs. – Hey, you!

A Missoula Mom reader recently sent me a link to the New York Times’ Motherlode blog post about the use of honorifics for women, and how their accepted use has changed rather dramatically in a short period of time.

The use of Miss, Ms. and Mrs. was once a way to signal a woman’s marriage status. Now, not so much. Similarly, as more women choose to keep their family names after marriage, or some combination, the flexibility to call yourself, and be known by, different names has been embraced to the point where hardly anybody gives it a second thought anymore.

Except, of course, for the women making the naming decisions. Me, I’m Ms. Christensen, thank you, and I share the same last name with my husband and our daughter. It keeps things simple when filling out any sort of official paperwork, which is nice, but honestly I chose to take my husband’s name for no other reason than I was tired of having to spell my maiden name. Maybe in a few years I’ll get tired of spelling Christensen, too, and start calling myself Ms. Smith or Ms. Jones or something.

Anyway, I do wonder how families decide which name their children should take, and when they hyphenate a child’s name, how that works when children with hyphenated names grow up and get married and have children of their own. And does having a name that’s different from your child’s require any sort of explaining at school, for instance? What’s in a name?

– MM

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What’s in a name?

I know this ran a couple of weeks ago, but I still wonder if “most popular name” lists have any impact. Would knowing that Ethan was the most popular name for boys in Montana influence your decision to name your baby Ethan? Or, for girls, Madison?

You would think that Montana place names would be more popular in Montana. I’ve met a couple of Libbys and Conrads, but I can’t say for sure they were named for those towns in Montana. On the other hand, places like Butte and Beaverhead don’t really lend themselves to baby names, do they?

– Tyler Christensen