This week, I’m choosing Prompt 3:
How did you parents choose your name? What does it mean? What would you change your name to if you could?
A Cautionary Tale
The story of my name should be a cautionary tale for all women about to give birth. Here is what happened. My mom and dad together had agreed on two names before I was born: Melissa or Stephanie. They decided to make a final decision together after I was born. Well, when the day of my birth finally came (which was eerily and accurately predicted by my grandmother in a dream—but that is a whole other story), my mom ended up having a c-section. This was back in the day when mothers were totally unconscious during the entire procedure so my dad was unsupervised during the first moments of my life.
When my mom finally came to, my dad walked in with me and said “Isn’t Jennifer just beautiful?” My mom said “Who is Jennifer?” Apparently, my dad took it upon himself to change my name to one they hadn’t even discussed!
So what is the moral of the story? Mothers, don’t let the fathers of your children out of your sight after giving birth until the official naming has been completed.
What My Name Means
The name Jennifer was really really common back then (and still is today). I’ve read in different places that it means “fair one” or “white wave” or “white phantom.” There is a tie to Guinevere (of King Arthur fame)—and frankly I wished my dad has named me Guinevere instead of Jennifer.
In Which I Try To Spice Things Up
When I was younger, I HATED my name because I thought it was so commonplace and boring. In an attempt to fancy it up, I changed the spelling of my name in 4th grade to “Jenni” instead of “Jenny.” To this day, my mom still sometimes calls me “Jen-Eye” to “mock” me for this. (Well, I feel it is mocking.) I was quite adamant about the spelling and refused to accept letters or papers in which my name was not properly spelled.
When I got confirmed in 7th or 8th grade (I was raised Catholic), I saw an opportunity to spice up my name. (Did I mention I was also given the middle name “Anne.” Another totally common name. It was in honor of my paternal grandmother but still—I always felt a girl with a personality as big as my own deserved a more exciting name.) As part of confirmation, you are allowed to choose another middle name. The only real requirement was that it had to be a saint’s name. (Thus, preventing me from choosing the name I always wanted for myself—Ginger. I guess there is no Saint Ginger.)
Well, I saw my chance and I decided to run with it. I scoured books about saints to find the most interesting saint’s name. When I found “Felicity,” it was a match made in heaven. Here was an interesting name that no one I knew had. (This was waaaaay before the TV show.) But my mom—for reasons I’m not entirely clear about now (I think a phone call about this issue is due)—wouldn’t let me pick it. I ended up with Marie—pretty much the standard middle name for Catholic girls. Ugh.
Coming To Terms With It
Well, I’ve long since gotten over having such a common name. I’ve made peace with it. I no longer pine to be named “Ginger” or “Felicity.” I guess I’m OK as a Jennifer (even though I still chose Jenners to be my blogging nom de plume.)
But I suspect that other Jennifers out there are still trying to make the name theirs. In fact, there is a local newscaster named Jennifer who spells it in the most ridiculous way I have ever seen—Jennyphyr. Every time I see her name, I cringe. She is an embarrassment to Jennifers everywhere.
And I bet I get at least 5 visits or comments from Jennifers on this post! If you are a Jennifer and you are reading this post, leave me a comment telling me how you spell your name. And did you feel the way I did about your name—like it was the most boring name in the world?