It's hard, you know, this baby-naming business. Long before we were even actually pregnant, back when we were just thinking about it, Brent and I bought the new version of Beyond Jennifer and Jason (now with the updated title, Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana). Having grown up with a name that at least one other person in every classroom I have ever been in has also possessed--and I mean this quite literally, I have never been the only Jennifer in any school setting; even now, I am one of a pair!--I am determined to find a name for this kid that she can consider to be all hers, so that if she should happen to run into someone of the same name it's kind of exciting and unusual instead of routine and very, very annoying...and sometimes just plain depressing. It's hard to feel so unique and yet have the same name as every other female child born in 1976.
(Sorry, MOM. I know you tried. You just tapped into the Zeitgeist and it didn't let you go, or something.)
So Brent and I have looked on the US Census Bureau website at name statistics and trends over like the last 20 years. And that was somewhat reassuring. The name we like for the kid has made it only so far as the top 100 names. But lately we've been hearing it a lot on TV: random characters on prime-time TV series like CSI have this name, or minor characters in a movie, or main characters in really bad movies. But it's there. And it's worrisome.
So I decided to put my Harding alum magazine to use this morning while I sipped my tea--a poor substitute for coffee, alas, but hell, I'm drinking decaf these days anyway so what does it even matter--and looked through the birth announcements solely for the purposes of discovering what I should definitely NOT be naming this baby.
First, the prize for the only really different-sounding and yet not totally freakish name out of the whole bunch goes to "Stella Allison." I'm proud to say, too, that this was the only couple I actually knew out of the list of those who've recently procreated. Yay!
Other names I kinda liked were "Sarah Nell" and "Nora Mae" although I'm a little less keen on the second. (Liked Nora, not so much the Mae with-an-e.)
But here's the breakdown: out of 27 names, there were,
3 Anne's and one Anniston
4 Caroline's (one spelled with a 'K')
2 Lee's and 1 Lily
and the usual run of made-up or unisexish names: Ashton, Ashlyn, Ayden, Campbell, Murphy, Mackinley
Abby, Alexis, Katelyn, Kaylie, Lindsay, Emily, Laura and Jane also made an appearance but were not (surpisingly, for some of these) duplicated. Oh, and there was one "Aria Tuscany," so I suppose those alums definitely went to HUF at some point.
So, and this is a relief, our name didn't appear on the list. But now that I'm all paranoid about it I'm keeping this to myself, so family types: quit referring to the kid as "Baby _______" at least on the blogs, okay? There's probably some other desperate Jennifers out there looking for the perfect as-yet-unrediscovered moniker for their precious unique little girl bundle of joy (Joy! That's it! Go for "Joy"!) and I'm not giving this one away.
And one last unrelated and somewhat strident point: are these the names good Harding alumni are giving to the next generation of women we expect to remain silent in our churches? Somehow "Murphy" in particular strikes me as a name with the potential to encourage the expression of personal opinion and thoughts...why might that be?... Perhaps Dr. Burks should work on providing procreating alums with a list of acceptably feminine names that don't challenge the status quo, ahem, I mean, the "core beliefs" of our churches.
Update: Thanks to mph's tip I found a whole 'nother page of birth announcements, upping the "Ann family" total to 4 Annes, 1 Anniston, 2 Hannahs and 1 Savannah; there are 4 Graces, 1 Joy & 1 Faith (apparently this generation is Hopeless); 3 Ashlyns; and the peerless Vail Blue. Added to unisex names: Emmerson, Sidney, & Madison, Briley and Riley.