Recently, I have felt like everyone around me is pregnant. For me, pregnancies were a lifetime ago, so I am baffled at the decisions some of these soon-to-be moms are making. One decision that many women are making is not telling anyone the names they have picked out. Are they afraid someone will make fun of it or try to steal it? Either way, it’s frustrating. I would never say anything negative about the name someone wants to bestow on her child. As a mom, I know how important this decision is. It is the name that the baby will have for life.
When I was pregnant with my first child thirteen years ago, Tom and I bought a name book. We spent hours scouring the pages trying to find the “right” name. To add to the frustration, we did not find out whether we were having a boy or a girl, so we had to be prepared for either situation.
We started the process of choosing a name by establishing rules:
- We could not name the baby a “ny” name. No Brittany, Tiffany, or Bethany. Although these names are nice, but the world is populated with way too many of them. Countless times in the course of my teaching career, I have had more than one Brittany or Tiffany in the same class.
- No names ending with “R”. Our last name is Huffer; I did not like the consonant repetition at the end of the names: no Peter Huffer or Tyler Huffer in our family.
- It had to have meaning. I didn’t want to name my baby something made-up or trendy. I could not, with a sound mind, call it La’Quitta, Apple, or Pilot. I wanted a name that could be traced through etymology or heritage.
- It had to be original. With that being said, it didn’t have to be crazy, I was fine with a Paul or a Daniel; however, it could not be the name of any of our friends’ babies.
Every name that I threw out, Tom hated. I liked the old school names. If it was a girl, I wanted to name her Edith and call her Edie. If it was a boy, I liked Bartholomew; we could call him Bart.
We went back and forth. Tom really liked Wesley Robert for the boy’s name. Robert was his father’s name, it is part of his name, and so, I found that fitting. But who was Wesley Huffer? I shut my eyes and pictured him. Wes was a cool, rugged kid. He played football, but he wasn’t a cocky jock. No, Wes had a sense of humor and he excelled in school. Wes was the kind of kid that other kids wanted to be around. Without hesitation, I agreed to it. However, we were still battling over the girl’s name.
One day, Tom walked into the kitchen while I was preparing dinner and said, “What do you think of the name Carson?”
My first thought was “Carson McCullers.” Carson McCullers wrote and published before she was twenty. It had always been my dream to be a writer, and because I was already over the hill and thirty, I thought that maybe this name could be the catalyst to having someone in my family published.
“Oh, and the name book says it means Irish princess,” he added.
“Neither one of us is Irish,” I countered.
“I know, but if we have a daughter, she will be our princess.”
I agreed, and from that point forward, we were set. We had chosen a name for our future child.
Four months later, she was born. Neither sets of parents were jazzed about her name. We fought battles with both of them.
Two days into her life, I was on the phone with my mother, and she said to me, “Dad and I are going to call her Carrie.”
I was stunned. Did my mother just arbitrarily change the name of my child?
“Mom, you can’t. Her name is Carson.”
“Why not? We don’t really like the name Carson,” she intimated.
I was starting to feel anger rise in my belly. “Well Tom and I do, that is her name. Besides, remember when you hated when Uncle Mike would call me Sherry. I distinctly remember you correcting him countless times. ‘Her name is Cheryl, not Sherry,’ you would say to him. It’s the same thing.” My rebuttal was a success. She understood my point perfectly, and once they got used to the name, they fell in love with it.
Tom’s parents were the next battle. Around the same time I was arguing with my mom, Tom was on the phone arguing with his.
“Dad and I are going to call her Kit, you know, after the old-time Westerner Kit Carson.” She felt triumphant having picked the baby’s first nickname.
“Mom, her name is not Kit. Her name is Carson. Please make sure you call her Carson, okay?”
Begrudgingly, she agreed. Both sets of parents thought it was a boy’s name. They thought we were trying to be trendy. We didn’t tell them that it meant Irish Princess. They would have said what I said, “You’re not Irish.”
After a few weeks, everyone was used to the name. One evening, we had friends over to introduce our new baby to them. Sarah was ogling over her cute pretty chubby cheeks. “She is beautiful, and I do love her name,” she said. “What made you choose it?”
“Oh, Tom found it in the baby name book. It means Irish Princess,” I said.
“Really? I wonder if Carson Palmer knows that,” her husband said. We all laughed. I looked at Tom and he had a guilty look on his face. He always gets this look when he has done something wrong, and he is about to fess up.
“What?” I asked, nervous about what he might say. “What did you do?”
“Well, you never actually looked in the baby book did you?”
“No, why? What does it mean?” I clenched my teeth. I was worried he was going to sayit meant asshole or shithead or something awful like that.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just really liked the name.”
I didn’t know how to react. For months, I had lived with the knowledge that this child’s name meant Irish Princess, and now, now it had no meaning. However, looking at her sweet angelic face, it did have meaning. She was my princess, my first-born child, the love of my life.
She was and is Carson, and I cannot imagine any other name for her.