June 5, 2014

A rose by any other name...

Oh, the infinite possibilities you have before you when you first start thinking about what to name a baby!! Family names, favorite names, "celebrity" names, "fad" names, literary names...the list goes on and on.  As my husband and I pondered and discussed names late into the night each time we were expecting a child we learned one valuable lesson the hard way. Do not share your chosen name with anyone.  ANYONE.  Either the name will be ridiculed (as in "really, you want to use THAT name?!") or, as we sadly found out during one pregnancy, a cherished name that we had shared was liked by someone else who won the delivery race and named their child OUR name.  Not that you have a patent on baby names, but still...it was disappointing, to say the least.

So when we discovered our son and his wife were expecting I shared this little piece of wisdom with them.  I did not exactly mean that they shouldn't share it with ME (just kidding! well, kind of kidding...), but they definitely took my advice and kept their selected names to themselves.  So the excitement was really building while we waited for "the call."  Would it be a boy or girl?  Red hair (my son) or blonde (my daughter-in-law), or brunette (me) or black (my husband)?  Freckles (my son)?  No freckles (my d-i-l)?  And names...classic? classy? traditional?  Why yes...all of the above regarding her name!

And not only is Lily a fun name (think fairy lilies in the garden, or Lily's Purple Plastic Purse in the library), it is also the name of one of my favorite literary mothers...Lillian Gilbreth.  Who couldn't love the brilliant time and motion study pioneer who along with her husband, Frank Gilbreth, were the forerunners in the study of ergonomics?  In the early 1900s she earned a master's degree in English literature and PhDs from both the University of California and Brown University (the first degree ever granted in industrial psychology) . She became the first American engineer ever to create a synthesis of psychology and scientific management. By applying the principles of scientific management to household tasks, she sought to provide women with shorter, simpler, and easier ways of doing housework to enable them to seek paid employment outside the home.  She paved the way for so many of us now in the workplace.  And did I mention that during all of her collaborative work and research with her husband, she had twelve children and managed her home with the same precision she managed her career?  Growing up, I read Cheaper by the Dozen and Bells on their Toes every year and never grew tired of this somewhat eccentric and completely charming family.

So welcome, little Lillian Marie.  Your name is lovely and will serve you well all the long days of your life.

Naming the Baby

by Faith Shearin

When you are dreaming of the name
you are also dreaming of who they
might be. They are invented in darkness —
under cloak of skin — and, for the better
part of a year, are a swelling
or a set of symptoms. The name
books are like a box of chocolates
and when you open them you see
how many kinds there really are.
There are names of people you
have known and disliked and names
that make the wrong sounds and names
that suggest your child will be
like everyone else's. There are names
that turn your child into a character
in a novel and names that recall
the time when your great grandmother
was young. Naming the baby is a way
of dreaming about a creature who is
almost but not quite. It is a way of
imagining the soul of a person you
are making but have not made.
The name is the first way you see
the baby: their title, the syllables
that conjure a shape from the lantern.

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