What? It's only been five months.
Names, I just want to say, are hard. REALLY HARD. I used to think naming your baby would be the best part. When I was little I would sit down to write a book (that's how I thought of it: writing a book) and I'd list out the characters, almost always a family with a mom, a dad, and a bunch of kids. I would list their titles (MOM, DAD, OLDEST SISTER, YOUNGEST BROTHER) and then their names next to the title. And then I was done because wow, writing a book is hard work.
Anyway, I could sit there thinking up names for my characters forEVER. I've had favorite names since I was a kid, although they change from year to year and I can't really remember any of them. Except Janet, which I think my friend Janet would find sort of funny. Hi Janet!
But then, when I was pregnant for the first time and opened up the initial Naming Conversation with my husband, I found out that it is no fun, and not just because your husband doesn't agree with you. It's no fun because you are NAMING ANOTHER PERSON. Who you don't even KNOW. That kind of responsibility is FRIGHTENING.
The two boy names I loved Phillip immediately shot down once he landed on the name Jackson, which I didn't really like, and which I had to learn to like since Phillip was not budging. And that is how I ended up with Total and Complete Power when it came to picking Molly's name. Phillip was allowed to offer suggestions (which was rare) or opinions (somewhat less rare) but in the end it'd be my call. Which, when I thought about it, was almost worse because not only was I naming another person, if she didn't like her name I wouldn't be able to blame it on her father. BAD PLAN, MAGGIE.
So. My name is Margaret, which: meh. It doesn't sound pretty. It doesn't look pretty. It has a bit of gravitas and old school cred and a lovely poem and, while uncommon (at least in my generation), is not weird or unusual. Whatever. No one has ever called me Margaret, I have always gone by Maggie and intend to do so until I write my novel. In which case I will publish under my full name so that when people call me on the phone, I will know if they are Friend or Business Associate based on the name they use. Isn't this a great idea?
Growing up I used to wish I had a pretty name. I defined "pretty name" by "name that ends with 'a'". I had lots and lots of friends whose names ended in 'a' and they were all cooler than me by far. Like Shanna and Marissa and Sarah and Johanna and Natasha. Girly pretty names. My full name was old and stodgy and my nickname was cutesy. Cutesy was not good enough. I told myself that when I had my own girl I would name her something elegant. It would end in 'a'.
That's where I was coming from when we started thinking up girl names. That and really wanting the baby's middle name to be Mary, which is my grandmother's name, and (bonus!) would leave me in the good graces of the baptism coordinator at church who liked to complain about people not giving their children saints' names anymore.
So we put Molly on the back burner and started thinking up other names. Phillip really liked Alice. I did not. I couldn't really explain why I didn't like Alice until five minutes ago, when I was thinking about how I haven't written this post yet, and realized that Alice makes me think of Alice Wendleken in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. THAT'S WHY, PHILLIP.
And I started digging up a whole slew of unusual-ish ends-in-'a' names. I really really liked Daria. I could call her 'Dar'! I thought Daria Mary was pretty. But Phillip didn't like it at all. And my sisters gave me HELL for wanting to name my baby after DARIA. Not that we all didn't think Daria was the coolest, but name the BABY after her? Was I kidding?
I loved Elizabeth, but I wanted to spell it with an 's'. And that's complicated, because almost all the Elizabeth nicknames need the 'z'. And I didn't want her to spend her whole life saying, "That's Elisabeth with an 's'." Because that's annoying. And I loved Charlotte, but I wasn't sure I loved Charlotte Cheung. I was telling a friend this, saying that I wasn't sure I liked the matchy matchy, TOTALLY spacing on the fact that HER daughter had a similar matchiness going on and dude, I really stepped in it on that one. Oops. The fact that I heard twelve million mothers shouting at their Charlottes at the wading pool this summer made me forget it.
Oh, and neither of those ended in 'a'.
For a long time I was really stuck on the name Geneva. DO NOT MAKE A FACE. At least not where I can see you. I love that name. Geneva would be the 'Louisa' name in this post (and Molly is the 'Annie' name- many of you guessed that right.) My sister had a friend in junior high named Genevieve which I thought was GORGEOUS. And she went by Gennie which I thought was THE CUTEST. But I didn't like "Jack and Gennie." And absolutely no one liked Geneva. "As in, The Conventions?" they'd say. Which is, you know, not the greatest connotation. But I had some lovely moments on Lake Geneva many years ago. And I still think it's pretty. And I still might have had a Geneva if I was the sort of person who did not care what other people thought.
Everyone liked Molly. I liked Molly. Phillip liked Molly. But I couldn't use Mary for a middle name (OBV) and Molly was definitely not an elegant ends-in-'a' name. Molly, in fact, is a lot like MAGGIE. Hmm. There are probably as many dogs named Molly as there are dogs named Maggie. THAT'S HOW SIMILAR THEY ARE.
But I couldn't settle on one of the prettier more elegant names. They just didn't fit. I realize that I had no idea if they would fit the BABY, but they certainly didn't fit ME. All the names I really liked were definitely in the Cute category, not the Princessy or Modern or Elegantly Old Fashioned categories.
I mounted one final ends-in-'a' effort with Malia. My maid of honor is named Malia. I have loved her name since I first heard it. It ended with 'a', but still felt cute. It was just a touch different. I still couldn't use Mary (it's Hawaiian for Mary, actually), but I lobbied hard and even made sure it wouldn't bug my friend if I stole her name. But Phillip was all, "We KNOW someone named Malia. That's just WEIRD." I saw his point, but I'm not one of those territorial name people and it's not like we didn't love our friend Malia and WHY NOT. But he didn't like the idea and I was tired of trying to come up with something different than Molly, which had felt like the right name all along.
And so it was. Molly, because we liked it. And Elizabeth, because it was currently holding the second favorite slot, was a Catholic standby, is one of my favorite literary characters, and makes an excellent middle name.
It took me a really long time to feel like Jack's name was Jack. And now I even like Jackson, which at the time felt too trendy and last namey for my taste. It's definitely his name and I knew I'd feel that way about Molly. Except I felt that way about Molly right away. It was HER name. I picked right.
Besides, if Phillip had let me go with Malia I'd be spending the next umpteen years saying, "NO, we DIDN'T name her after the President's daughter."
Oh, and Molly has a poem too. Which she has to share with me. TOO BAD.