baby-names

I am not pregnant. I have never been pregnant. Yet I think about the names of my future children every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. And I’ve been doing this for years and years and years.

Because I’m a freak. A freak about names. I love them. I love thinking about them, talking about them, reading about them, looking up stuff about them, making lists of them, putting them together in different combinations. Basically, give me all the names all the time. When I was in middle school, I even attempted to write a name book. This entailed my taking a bunch of name books out of my local library and basically plagiarizing them, but I think I got to like, the L section of girls before I gave up. I was dedicated, even as a child!

There’s nothing I enjoy more than when a celebrity gives birth, if only because YAY I GET TO FIND OUT WHAT THE NAME IS. If I see an article pop up on People.com called “You’ll Never Guess What The Actor Who Played Corpse #2 on SVU Last Week Named His Baby!” I will happily click on it, every single time. The royal baby’s birth and naming was basically like my Super Bowl. The whole North-or-Kaidance thing in regards to Kim and Kanye‘s baby took up way more of my internet time than I’d like to admit. And all those Huffington Post name lists that seem to be published every few days? Yup, I’m all over it. If it’s name-related, please pass it this way.

And, oh god. The Baby Name Voyager? The Social Security Baby Names section? Swistle’s baby name advice? Don’t even get me started on that stuff. I can easily lose hours of my time playing around on those sites, looking at the trends, debating the popularity of my personal picks and puzzling out how and why so many people are so dang boring with naming.

I know a lot of people who abhor nontraditional or weird names, but I tend to like the pure unadulterated creativity of parents who name their kids stuff like “Moxie” or “Rainbow,” even though I wouldn’t really name my own child that. I’d much rather hear about a kid named “Banjo” than one named Matt or Emily, although of course classic names are classic for a reason. My taste is aligned with the kind of quirky, slightly old-fashioned names that are trendy with parents right now, so it’s not like I think my kid is going to be so OMG SPESHUL with his or her name, when the time comes.

You’re not going to see an Elizabeth or a Robert come from my loins, that’s for sure, although if those are your or your children’s names, no offense is meant. It’s just not my style. I like names that are recognizable as names, but not necessarily something you’re going to hear in every preschool class in three years. I also like names that have familial or other personal significant to the parents, like the place names director Ron Howard gave his kids as middle names. Basically, my taste can be summed up as “Different but not different enough that a kid is going to be ashamed or confused about their name.” Think like…Clio or Amabel or Gareth, that kind of thing.

I spend an inordinate portion of my daydreaming time (which I imagine I will have considerably less of once I become a mother) wondering what THE NAME will be, the name I’ll actually settle on for my first child, whether I give birth to him or her or become a mother in some other way. I have a shortlist—I mean DUH I have a goddamn short list. Nope, I’m not sharing with the internet because obviously—but I don’t think me and my partner will fully decide until we see the baby’s face. Naming an entire human is a big fucking deal, after all.

I guess that’s part of the reason why names and naming has always been so compelling to me. I mean, it’s YOUR NAME. It’s a big deal! A huge part of your identity, whether you like it, hate it, or don’t care very much one way or the other. So many different factors go into naming, including culture, history, family, language, religion, personality, personal experiences…it’s fascinating to learn about how and why people make these decisions for their children, and occasionally, even themselves.

I am in my late twenties, so pretty much every friend I have is either pregnant, thinking of getting pregnant, or enduring life with a newborn. So I get to spend a lot of time talking about names with people, snarking via Gchat about the latest boring moniker some girl I went to high school with gave her baby, or making long lists of possible names for babies soon to be born or conceived. And I love every minute of it. Also, my work as a doula brings me into contact with lots of pregnant people and brand new babies, so that’s even more nameness to feed my never-ending appetite for naming!!

I know there are other name nerds like me out there, name people who post daily on baby name forums and have spreadsheets full of potential names lurking on their hard drive, both parents and non-parents. Where are you, my friends? Can we make a club? Do you want to make a collective name blog and somehow take steal all the traffic from BabyNameWizard and BehindTheName, becoming rich moguls in the process? Can you help me find a way to feel fulfilled in my name love without having 5739000 children?

Photo: Getty Images/Julia Sonenshein