Friday, July 11, 2008

What's in a name?

I hate my name. I always have. It became apparent to me at a pretty early age that I do not look at all like what people expect when they hear my name.

I often heard:
"Oh, I thought you'd be blonde."

Which I translated into:
"Oh. I thought you'd be cuter."

So during college I tried to go by my middle name. Nicole.

I think, overall, that this is a name that better suits me. It is a stronger name. Less fluffy. I never got that slightly disappointed and confused look when I introduced myself as Nicole.

But it didn't stick.

My mom tried. While I was home on break she would try to remember to call me Nicole.

My dad didn't. Neither did my brother (but he was away at college too at this point and didn't call me much of anything).

But to them - I WAS my name. Didn't matter if it suited. It was who I was. How they thought of me. They didn't think of my name as anything other than my name. Which is true of friends and family whenever I mention that I don't like my name. They don't get it. Because to them I am Tiffany. Not "a Tiffany".

"A Tiffany" is not who I am, I have instead defined the name as myself. If that makes any sense to you - then congratulations.

But all of this name reflection gave me great pause as I sat forming a baby for nine months. This is a HUGE decision. And I have always played the name game. I love to name things. I love to give names to inanimate objects. My house is named Ashley, my car is name Mackenzie (but I just call her Mac), etc. One of the things I like most is choosing a name. Giving something a label that matches how I feel about it or what I think about it.

So you can see why naming a baby is such a monumental task.
What if the name didn't suit the person the baby would one day become? What if I chose a name that was perfect for my toddler but a horrible name for a grown woman.

So this is what I did.

I started thinking about who I wanted my child to be.

I wanted her to be strong.

I wanted her to have a poet's soul.

I wanted her to be empathetic.

I wanted her to be empowered to fight for what she believes in.

I wanted her to be passionate.

I wanted her to love life and take the time to enjoy it.

The list is long. Longer than I have written here. But once I had given some thought to what I wanted for my daughter, I thought about the women I knew that possessed some of those traits. And so I thought of the women I admired most.

And so my daughter is named Maya. For Maya Angelou.

And it turns out that this is a popular name right now. And it is not because of the poet. I'm not sure why it gained such popularity but it did. And Maya is one of 3 Maya's in her daycare.

But she is the only one named for one of the greatest writers of our time.

Good name. Great connotation and connection.

And I am sure at some point, she will hate it.


Aunt Becky said...

Maya is a lovely name.

Irenic Seeker Mama said...

great name and great reason.

Our son has three middle names for some of the reasons you mentioned