Monday, February 2, 2009

The History of the Snob

It all started when my mom had my little brother, and then my other brother, and other, and then my sister, and then another brother...I am the oldest of 11. There is an almost 18 year gap between myself and the youngest sibling. I remember being so upset that my first sister's name ended up being Bridget. I wanted something cool, like Samantha or Jessica because after all, it was 1989. And so my parents named her Bridget (for a great grandmother) Christena (my mom's name, also my grandmother's middle name, so sometime back in the 1920s the great grandmother balked at Christina).

If you recite our names fast enough, it sounds like a spell-- or roll call at your local Catholic school circa 1950. Theresa Moira, Shaun Michael, Ryan David, Garrett Patrick, Bridget Christena, Patrick Rory, Catherine Aquinas (after St Thomas Aquinas), Derek Daniel, Thomas Cormac, Rosemary Monica and Brendan Alexander.

With each pregnancy she would pull out the baby name book and start leafing through it. She was convinced that we all needed saintly names so out came the Saints of the Catholic church encyclopedia as well. I pushed for names like Cecilia and Rose while my step-father argued for names like Monica (during 1996, too!) and Tabitha.

I wore the name book out; the spine weakened, pages fell out and peanut butter grease stains dotted the pages. I decided my name was lame, Theresa means 'reaper' in Greek. What is that? At least I had two saints to claim as my own, St Therese the Little Flower and St Theresa of Avila. During Catholic school we celebrated feast days (which I just can't see happening nowadays with the plethora of Emerson/Addison/Madison/Jaden/Hayden names) and I got the pick which date I wanted, naturally I chose whichever one was soonest. Patience has never been a virtue of mine.

When I became pregnant with my first child I found BabyCenter which soon led me to the baby naming polls. You would not believe some of the names and the catty comments and fights that happen over naming babies--even the hypothetical not yet conceived ones. I made a poll with names I liked, mostly Irish, and braced for the aftermath. My boy picks were Roan Morgan, Finnian James, Jude Cieran and James Fitzgerald (my grandmother's maiden name). My girl picks were Sofia Jane, Meara Quinn, Aidan Elisabeth and Norah something. I think James and Sofia won. However, I remember someone making a comment on my poll saying that if I really wanted to use the proper Gaelic spelling of Kieran I should spell it Ciaran. This is what I was thinking when James finally emerged after a loooong labor with a c-section on top. They told me it was a boy and he had a head of black hair. So here I am, crying and exhausted and thinking about something a stranger said on my baby name poll in regards to the spelling of my child's name. And I took her advice.
With my second pregnancy I pulled the books out as soon as I found out. I spent the better part of nine months with my friend Jess, who was due two weeks before me, pouring over names (German for her, Irish/English for me) and eating my weight in bagels. She ended up being a week late and I was 10 days early, so our guys are only three days apart. She had a Maddox Oberon and I ended up with a Bennett Jude. We were both insistant that we would never nickname our boys. Bennett has more nicknames that I can count, the most used being Benny Boo, Benny Judy and Bennett Ciaran--all bestowed by James. Apparently James thought Ciaran W___ was a swear word because when he used to get ticked at me he'd scream "MOM CIARAN W___!!"

I like all names, I really do. I've never met a Sophia, an Emily, an Aiden or a William that I didn't like. I'm sure I'd even love little Bronx Mowgli.


Tara/Bunny said...

I didn't know that was James's middle name. We obviously have similar taste... (our baby that we lost last year was named Ciaran)

Ellie said...

You know I love your name choices! Great back history!!! Thanks for sharing. I will try not to let you down too much with and in the future :)

tracy_a said...

great story.

so - any pet names through history?

Jane and Matt said...

I still think Sophia Jane would have been a perfectly acceptable little boy name. He may have hated you later in life but of course, what's new?! lol, next time=)