Monday, March 17, 2008

What's in a name?

Way back when, when I was still pregnant and we were searching for the perfect name, I blogged about names. I promised I would post my rules and our criteria but I never did. I figured now is as good a time as any to follow through on my word. But in addition to my rules, I thought I would tell you where the boys' names came from and what inspired Mat and me to name the boys what we did.

I already explained that I would never do anything cutesy like name my kids Bray and Gray or Braeden and Aidan. Mat and I also agreed early on that we wouldn't give our kids names that began with the letter 'M'. Mat and Melissa is bad enough. We couldn't see adding Michael and Martina to the fold. Following that logic, I knew we wouldn't use a 'B' name for the second baby...each kid gets their own unique name.

When we were thinking about Braeden's name we wanted something that was still somewhat traditional but we wanted him to have a name that he wouldn't share with every third kid in his class. No Steve or Brian for our kids. Mat decided he wasn't interested in having a Junior in the family so that took care of that issue. Just as we wanted a name that wasn't so common, we were just as certain we weren't going to name our kid Pilot Inspektor, Moses, Scout, or Apple. :) We also wanted our kids' names to fit with our families' backgrounds. Our families are basically British in genealogy so no Mario, Claude, or Hans for us.

Finally, while we were thinking about Braeden's name, Abi told me the name she was considering (first and middle) should she ever decide to have kids. And that knocked two more names out of the running!

With both boys, Mat and I went through the baby names book and made a list. Then we looked at what our lists had in common. We tried out names until we found one that stuck. Then we had to come up with a middle name that went well with our first name. And that was it. Sounds simple, right?

With Braeden, we tried out a couple other names first...Laird, Ian, and Wesley are the names I remember trying. I still love each of those, but none seemed right. Names are so subjective, so much a part of who we are at that particular moment. It's possible if I were pregnant today with our first, Laird would have been the one to stick. I can't say. But three years ago, we tried and discarded Wesley pretty quickly. We moved on to Braeden and never moved off of it. As for the middle name, Mat and I both liked Rhys and Mat really wanted to use the traditional Welsh spelling. Rhys means ardor (love, passion, eagerness, or enthusiasm). Braeden seems to mean son of Bradan and Bradan is derived from a Gaelic word for salmon. So, does that mean Braeden Rhys will be a lover of salmon?

When it came time to choose a second boy name, I found it really difficult. I put off concentrating on it for a long time. I think because I knew it would be my last chance to name a baby, so I didn't want it to be over. And I knew I wanted the name to be perfect. But whatever the reason, we followed the same process as we did with choosing Braeden's name. We considered names like Devlin, Griffin, and Wade.

For a while I was certain I wanted a two-syllable first name and a one-syllable middle name to match Braeden Rhys. But somewhere along the way we decided on Leman as a middle name. Once we had that in place, it shifted our thinking to a one-syllable first name. And that's when I was able to convince Mat to consider Gage. It had been on my list, but Mat didn't really like it. I think he just needed a little time to live with it before realizing it was perfect.

A gage is a cap or glove thrown down to challenge someone. It also means the act of pledging or binding oneself to someone or something. I didn't know that when I picked it but I really like these meanings for the name. So why did I like the name enough to keep insisting on it to Mat? I'm not sure. I can say it's a name that's stuck with me since I saw an early episode of The West Wing. (I LOVE that show. I'm rewatching it now thanks to Netflix.) Sam Seaborn worked for a law firm in NY before going to work for the Barlet campaign. The firm's name? Gage Whitney.

Leman is my dad's middle name (William Leman) and his father's first name (Leman William). I think the name goes back farther than that, but to be sure, I'll need mom and dad to weigh in (leave a note in the comments section and let me know, mom!). Either way, it seemed fitting to keep it going in the next generation.

I always tell people if I had been a boy, dad wanted to name me Harry because he liked the name. I shudder to think of that now given the popularity of that stupid wizard. (I HATE the Harry Potter books...and I really hate adults who insist that the books aren't just for kids and practically order you to read them!) Would I have been Harry Leman Potter? If I had been born earlier, I think I would have been Victoria. Luckily some friend of mom's had her baby girl first and snagged the name for her daughter. Whew! I also remember my dad saying once that mom liked the name Holly. Funny thing is Mat kind of dated a girl named Holly in college until I snatched him up from under her nose. :) I'm glad I got Melissa.

Who knew I had that much to say on the subject of names? One of my 101 things is to share more of my own thoughts on the blog. I know everyone tunes in for stories and pictures of the boys and that will always be the focus...just consider me your color commentator, the Phil Simms of Little Boy Braeden and Gage-a-licious. :)

1 comment:

Me-ma said...

Let's see ---Daddy's father was Leman Winfred Potter. Daddy's grandfather was Winfred Leman Potter. Each generation used the same names, but reversed them. When Daddy was named, his mother and father could not bring themselves to repeat the Winfred part of the "WL" so they changed it to William Leman Potter! Thank goodness! I just went to find Daddy to ask him if the name and initials "LW" and "WL" go back any further generations prior to his grandfather, but he was napping on the couch! I wouldn't be surprised if the name thing went further back -- I'll try to check and let you know.

And I enjoyed reading all about the names...for the record, you might have been "Joy" or "Mae" (for my mother's mother) or "Clara" (for my father's mother) and yes "Victoria" but a friend snagged that name up! I remember your father carried the names around with him in the hospital after you were born and he'd pull it out of his pocket and study it and then look at you. By the time we decided on your name, the paper was wrinkled and well-read! Daddy did not like any of my choices, except we both loved and agreed on the name Melissa! Thus, you are Melissa!

How wonderful it was reading about the process you used to decide on your boys' names! I enjoyed reading all about it.