Our adult daughter has her 32nd birthday this week. It’s her birthday, she gets to celebrate, she gets the gifts – but the memory of the day belongs to me.
Since I was the one who did ALL the work and was present “in the moment” while she made only a brief, late and loud appearance.
My husband was indeed present but not for the entire event. Later a nurse told me he appeared somewhat faint and had to (was asked to) leave the room. He triumphantly returned for the “it’s a girl” announcement and it was he, not me, who responded when the question came –
“What’s the baby’s name?”
Choosing a baby’s name was – and is – the fun part. But far different today than it was 30-some years ago.
My husband and I felt the weight of expectations of generations that came before us when choosing a name.
Our daughter, pregnant now with her 2nd child, does not feel this weight. Her husband doesn’t either.
It’s not that they are selfish, it is just that they are millennials.
I have done absolutely zero research to reach this conclusion, unless you call my frequent perusal of websites such as babynamewizard and nameberry – and many similar sites for expectant parents of every demographic stripe.
We (boomers) did not have the internet to guide us in selecting a baby name.
We had exactly two sources:
1. Our parents memories and wishes which we listened to.
2. Books of suggested baby names (printed on actual paper) which we read.
When I was pregnant, my aunt sent me a book on baby names designed to help Jewish parents come up with names that honored their deceased relatives as fits our tradition. I wanted to use my mother’s Hebrew name as a starting point. That led to its own set of arguments as my dad and my mother’s brothers had different recollections of what my mother’s Hebrew name actually was. And she wasn’t around to tell us.
My husband wanted to honor the memory of his grandmother who helped raise him. And I (respecting my own 1970’s feminist ethos) wanted to give the baby my own last name as a middle name.
I was also influenced by, a somewhat inexplicable in retrospect but fervent at the time, admiration for the British royal family owing to a business trip I took to the UK just before I became pregnant in 1983. Images of babies named Charles, Diana, Edward and Elizabeth filled my dreams.
Ultimately, our daughter and then our son were given lovely, traditional names to honor family members no longer with us.
Our daughter and her husband have more naming options – and stronger voices of their own, like their millennial brethren.
They will pick a name that suits them. And them alone. It won’t be fanciful, or celebrity-based or (I hope) have a bizarre spelling.
Their biggest concern? They don’t want to select a popular baby name that “everyone else” is using. So I know not to expect to have a grandchild named – Daniel or Noah – or Ava or Emma. (sigh, I am fond of those names.)
It’s their baby – and I respect that (though as I edge towards sleep each night, I make mental lists of names I hope they won’t choose – “Please, let them not chose Cole, Cooper or Cale.” Nothing against those names if they are in your family, but they make me squirm.
My husband and I endlessly discussed and discarded baby names (“Kenneth,” No, that sounded like a dentist. “Douglas,” No, that was someone my husband didn’t like in grade school. “Diana,” my husband put his foot down at that one. “Beth,” too timid, as in the famed Little Women character of my childhood favorite book.).
Our millennial daughter and her husband will use spread sheets to guide their baby name decision-making process.
Our son-in-law (yes, you guessed it, he has an MBA) and my born-an-organizational-expert daughter invented a method for their first child’s name that they will adopt for their second.
The other night at dinner this method was explained to me as follows:
- A month before the baby’s due date, a spread sheet is created
- The spread sheet contains three columns
- Column #1 is where our daughter lists her preferred baby names
- Column #3 is where our SIL lists his preferred names
- Spread sheet is shared by both parties
- In the center Column #2 is created on which the overlapping names agreed upon by both parties are listed
- Spread sheet is again shared
- The process continue until there are several overlapping names in Column #2
- Baby name is selected by joint agreement of both parties from among the overlapping names in Column #2
An efficient and effective millennial method of dealing with a highly emotional decision, don’t you think?
Could I live with a new grandchild named Cooper, Cole – or Cale? Of course. Unless they decide to spell the latter name, Kale, in the ultimate millennial joke on their boomer parents. Then all bets are off.