Awaiting the birth of my first child was an exciting time. I definitely could have done without the morning sickness and lingering fatigue, but the anticipation of her impending arrival had me giddy. I couldn’t wait to see what traits I might recognize in her. Of course, part of the preparation was in choosing a name. I was brought up in a generation crowded with Jennifers and Sarahs and Nicoles. As a Darcie, I most definitely stood out. I didn’t necessarily appreciate the uniqueness of my name when I was young, but by the time I was pregnant with my own little girl, I indeed wanted to give her a moniker that would prevent her from having to use her last initial in the classroom as a differentiator.
My mom bought me a book with some ten thousand and one baby names. It sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that half of the options are ruled out immediately based on gender. From there, you sift through the Hazels and Bessies, and anything else that sounds remotely appropriate for a farm animal. My personal preferences necessitated that I exclude the most popular names, too. So there went Brittney and Taylor and Emily. By the time I got down to a potential pool to choose from, the promise of those ten thousand and one names seemed misleading.
In the end, my seventeen-year-old self settled on Torri for my firstborn. Not Victoria—which I thought seemed a tad stuffy for a cute and cuddly baby—but a very playful Torri. Something she could grow into. Something that would set her apart from all the other baby girls in the hospital’s nursery.
I would go on to give birth to a Kennedy, a Cassidy (both female) and a Jayce (male, pronounced to rhyme with face). As often happens, my kids turned out to be good fits for the names, or vice versa, and I can’t imagine them as anything else. But I’ve been doing some genealogy research as part of a birthday gift for my dad, and I have to admit that sifting through family names leaves me a little saddened that I didn’t know about them all those years ago when I was naming my babies.
I’ve come across a Hezekiah. And an Alice Delilah, who went by Lila. There’s an Oliver and a Daniel. Israel and Azuba. Alonzo and Henrietta (which, when nicknamed Etta, is pretty irresistible, I think). Maybe it’s less the name as a stand-alone, and more the wispy images of these brave pioneers I am imagining. Pioneers whose blood runs through my very veins, no less. I can’t help but romanticize who they must have been.
Here’s the weird thing, though: I’ve discovered that—purely by chance—my children do indeed carry some family names. My son is Jayce Avery. Avery, I’ve discovered, was a family surname. And my Cassidy Jewel shares the Jewel portion of her name with a great, great aunt.
It may have been happenstance, but there’s something so very rooting in it. And if part of what we’re supposed to give our children is roots and wings, well, then at least I’ve got a good start.