Tuesday, March 19, 2013
What's in a Name?
I was almost a Katherine.*
My mom picked the name and it was all set. That is, until my parents flipped through a tiny book of baby names they got as the prize in a Cracker Jack box. Just a few down from Katherine, they found it in tiny print. "Kirsten," said my Dad, who up until this time had few opinions on the baby front. "If it's a girl, we'll call her Kirsten."
A few months later, I made my debut: Kirsten Yates. Kirsten, from a Cracker Jack box; Yates for my maternal grandfather. My parents realized almost immediately the trouble with pronunciation I would encounter my whole life.
"HOUSTON?!" shouted my grandmother into the phone when my mother called to make the announcement. "You named your child HOUSTON?"
"It rhymes with EAR-sten," my mother said. "KIR-sten."
"You named it EARSTEN?"
"Nevermind. It's a girl."
Cue years of being called everything from KRisten and CUR-sten to the less understandable Kristina and Kari-stan. Plus spelling confusion, check-cashing issues, and almost not having wedding invitations in time when they had to be reprinted.
Lots of things might have been easier as Katherine. Finding a personalized key chain at the gift shop for sure. But being the less common Kirsten affords me the ability, I think, to live a little outside the lines. I can play roller derby or be the youth pastor's wife who dyes turquoise streaks in her hair. Katherine would never have done that.
As Katherine, I think I would have been a little more Regina George. A bit prissier, more straight-laced. I might have taken modern dance or intentionally chosen to wear bows or color coordinated outfits. I definitely would have taken myself more seriously.
When it came to naming our first child, we consulted baby name books, name generating sites, and friends before finally landing on Lincoln and Sawyer as our top two boy names. We decided to make our final decision after actually seeing our baby.
I never thought it would matter, but when the doctor first placed my dark-haired son on my chest, still a little blue and smeared with blood, it was clear: he looked like a Sawyer. My husband thought the same thing, so Sawyer he became. Lincoln arrived almost two years later--another perfect fit.
Now on our third baby (gender unknown), we are stuck. With a long list of boy names we love, we can't agree on a girl name. We want something unique, but not Apple or Soleil Moon Frye. Rob isn't wild about my list and I feel the same about his. We may have even discussed a trade or monetary pay-off. And still: a stalemate.
A little more than six weeks left. Can a name really matter so much? I think of Katherine, and believe that it does.
*To Katherines--I have nothing against your name! I am sure you are lovely and fun people. This post is about how an otherwise excellent name might have changed my life.
It's almost time to celebrate the two-year anniversary of Yeah Write. Jump on in for a great community of online writers and a barrel with no monkeys, but lots of laughs and well-aged wine.