Mostly, this post is an excuse for a gratuitous link to the Utah Baby Namer, which still can make me howl with laughter, even after a dozen visits.
A few weeks ago, I was in the waiting room of the pediatrician’s office with my three children, sitting across from a woman who was dressed the way I always think I’d dress if I were a little braver (and thinner and prettier)–kinda funky, bright-colored shirt, jeans that weren’t from the Gap, excellent hot pink shoes. After we had been there a few minutes, she said “Excuse me, I think I just overheard you calling your children Peter and Louisa–are those their names?”
I said yes, and she continued, “that’s amazing–my two oldest children are named Peter and Louisa, too. This is Cleo,” she said, introducing the one child she had with her. “Wow,” I said, “I have a niece named Cleo–what are the odds?” We talked for a couple of minutes about how we had chosen the names (nice missionary opportunity for me, since my Louisa’s named after Louisa Greene Richards, the founding editor of the Woman’s Exponent), and then the nurse called Cleo in, and I’ve never seen this woman again. But I’ve thought about her several times–it seems like surely we should be best friends. I’ve attached such deep significance to the process of choosing a name, that I can’t help imagining that someone who chose the same names for her children must be like me in some profound way. Of course that’s silly–probably most of us end up picking names that are in the most common hundred or two hundred names in any given year. Still, almost everyone spends a lot of time and care choosing names for their offspring. Are Mormons just like everyone else in this way, or do we Mormons, with our acute consciousness of the links between generations, bring something unique to the process?
[Here’s something that seems very Mormon to me, but I kinda hope I’m the only Mormon girl who has done this: when I was 11-15ish, I used to have very elaborate fantasies about my future family. I dreamed of having *lots* of kids, at least 10, and I loved to pick out their names (as well as what instrument they would play). You can guess what I was interested in, what books I was reading, etc., by comparing the names from year to year. Here are a couple of lists from my journals:
Mary Catherine (violin)
Laura (writer, violin)
Stefan (French horn)
There are lots more, but I imagine this should provide sufficient material for mockery!]