One lovely and memorable night a decade ago, when my husband and I had been dating for a year, as we drove from San Diego to Los Angeles, we decided our future was with one another. It wasn’t an official proposal so much as a declaration of intent. We wanted to marry one another. We wanted to have children. This conversation got really, really detailed, right down to naming our future children.
At the time we wanted three kids, so we figured, “OK, we should pick three boy names and three girl names to cover all the bases.” And we did. Have you ever seen a movie where there’s, like, a stereotypical businessperson on the top floor office of a very tall skyscraper? And all their furniture is crazy modern and they have a single katana hanging on the wall behind their massive desk, and they’re shouting into their phone like, “I don’t care what the Swedish say, I have Japan on the other line and this deal is going through as planned!” There were points in the conversation that went like that. I thought his top boy name was boring; He thought my top girl name was twee. Middle names were offered as compromises and taken as insults. Offer. Counter-offer. Counter-counter offer. Finally we reached 3 per gender, agreeing that the ranking of the second and third boys names and the third girl’s name were still up for debate. Yes, it was intense, but so too is the responsibility of naming a baby. That kid is (in most cases) stuck with the name you pick for life. So not only can it be difficult to choose a baby name in the first place for myriad reasons, but it can also be a deeply frustrating exercise.
Among multiple moments of thinking the other was completely crazy, here are some of the other thoughts we — and assuredly, baby-naming people the world over — had during that process.
“This Baby Name Book Has 10,000 Names!”
“OMG, I love the name Juniper! But I also love Isadora! GASP! Lydia? That’s beautiful! Oooh! Look at this one! WINTER! I didn’t even know you could name someone Winter! How can I be expected to pick just one!?!?!?”
"I've... Got Nothing."
“Actually, I changed my mind. All of these names suck. I must find new names.”
"My Partner Is Literally Trying To Crush My Dreams."
“I heard the coolest name today: Magnus!”
“No. That’s a crappy name.”
“No, it’s not! Name a better name than Magnus!”
“John is stupid and boring.”
“Magnus is so hipster. Also it’s Magneto’s real name.”
“Magneto’s real name is Max, you fake fan boy.”
“Whatever. It sounds like you’re naming a kid magnets.”
“WHY DID I LET YOU IMPREGNATE ME?!?!?!?!”
"How Do You Spell That?"
“We’ve decided the baby’s name will be Katherine Ann… or maybe Catherine Anne. Hmmm… C or K? C or… K? I think… K. Or C. And Anne with an E… but why do you need the E? I mean, that’s how Anne of Green Gables spelled it… Oooh! What about Kathryn with a Y?! That’s different… but is it too different…?”
"Why Is Everyone Named Sophia?"
“I love Jacob… but in my group of friends alone their are 7 Jacobs. SEVEN! Why is everyone preemptively copying me?!”
"I Am Dooming My Child Forever With This Unique And Foreign Name."
“So, her name will be pronounced Joy-ah and it’s spelled G-I-O-I-A… yes, it’s a real name. It means “joy.” No, we did not make up the spelling; it’s Italian. Like… Gianna or Giuliani… yeah, it’s not particularly intuitively spelled… yeah, roll call on the first day of school will be annoying… no, she’ll never find novelty items with her name on them… ya know what? Shut up, we’ll name her Mary. There, are you happy?”
“You Know, Mortimer Is A Name That’s Been In The Family For Five Generations…”
Your Mother-in-Law: My mother’s name was Eunice.
You: Yes, I met her once at our wedding, before she died. She was very sweet.
MIL: It would be such a nice tribute to name the baby Eunice.
You: Oh, did your son not tell you? We’re going with Violet Jane!
MIL: Violet? *makes a face like you just ripped a really smelly fart* But Eunice! It’s just one of those beautiful classic names.
You: It’s lovely. Violet is a classic name, too.
MIL: I don’t know, it’s just always sounded… the only Violets I’ve ever known have been prostitutes. Actual, shameful prostitutes.
You: I… don’t think that’s true.
MIL: If you don’t name your baby Eunice, I will literally die of grief. You will be a murderer.
"What If They Call Our Kid [Less-Than-Desirable Nickname For A Name You Love]?"
“William is great! Perfect... Oh crap, but Billy is terrible. GASP! WILLY is even worse! In England that means penis! I can’t have a child named penis! WHAT IF PEOPLE CALL HIM PENIS?!”
*A-List Celebrity Gives Birth, Uses Your Favorite Name*
Because it doesn’t matter how esoteric it was before, there are about to be 13 of them on your playground.
You Finally Find A Name You Love, But It’s The Name Of An Ex
We're done here. Whatever. Call him Billy. I can't anymore.
Images: Jason Scrags/Flickr; Giphy(10)