Conclusions. For today, at least.
takes seven quick

The Name Post

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.


So. I know these friends named Molly and Maggie.

And I "know" you and Molly.

I told my husband I want to name our two future daughters Molly and Maggie.

I was shot down. I already hate the Naming Conversation. ALL HE WANTS TO DO IS SHOOT ME DOWN.

(Although, we will probably name one Maggie. He has give that name his blessing. Whee!)


Those are all nice names, but it sounds like Molly turned out to be perfect for you guys. I quite like Malia too and suspect we will see a boom in that one. This whole naming business looks HARD.


I must be weird because Geneva doesn't make me think of the convention, it makes me think of the font! And then I am all, haha, you could have named her "Helvetica!" You may be "meh" on Margaret but at least there aren't a significant number of people in your age group with the same name.


I am a little bit dreading the baby naming conversation, and therefore I want to have it now, even though that sounds backward, but Torsten won't have it now because it is too abstract.

So, I LOVE this post. You DID pick right. And Molly and Jack sound great together.


I like the name Molly, you chose well.

I've totally brainwashed Daniel into liking my first choice girl name. He didn't like it at first, but then he liked the other suggestions I made even less, which made him start to like the name I first suggested :)

Thankfully, his parents pick our kids' middle names, since we give them Chinese names for that and we're incapable of picking something appropriate ourselves. So one name is all I have to worry about.


I love naming conversations for girls - sooo easy compared to boy names. I didn't think conventions (or fonts) at all for Geneva. I like it, and I love Genvieve with the French pronunciation. As for another ends in -a name, I really like Sequoia (like the tree), but that wasn't going to fly with hubby. Of course, I love the name Molly too. (See - so easy with girls).


I agree names are super hard. Well, you know we went to the hospital with 5 different sets of first-middle names to see if Lucy fit any of them. And then for the first ENTIRE MONTH I was sad because I thought "her name could actually be ____ and I named her Lucy!" Or I accidently called her one of the other 4 names we had picked.

But now? Lucy is definitely her name. But I'm not looking forward to having to do that again some day.


I think Molly has the perfect name. It totally suits her!! Also? I had a girlie name that ended in "a" and it took me a long time to really like my name. You can't win any way you slice it!!
Also ... you know this but we were totally scared that we would have a boy because the only name we could agree on was ... JACKSON. And even then? Not totally sure. The only name we solidly could agree on was a girl's name.


Oh, you are so right about the responsibility. I still have mini panic attacks that maybe I chose wrong.


Yay! I'm so excited to know what the "Louisa" name was! It IS hard. Man. And I've been thinking about what I would name my kids since I was, oh, 10 or something--but, of course, I now have to agree with another person about it and then decide that a little person will be called that forever! (In fact, I started using "Charlotte" as my blog name because I LOVE it and my husband doesn't. If I can't name a baby Charlotte, I can at least name myself!) And now we've got two names to come up with at once!


I wonder if there's been an influx in Charlottes or if all of the Charlottes are getting into trouble. Hmm.

I'm a planner. In high school, when I was still militantly anti-child, I made a list of thirty names (fifteen of each gender) and tucked it away. I thought it was one less thing to worry about. Problem solved, right? Reading this I think I was dead wrong.


I have a confession, I sometimes look at you blog to come up with topics for my blog :P Mine isn't read nationally and is public nor popular, mine is for my son when he is all grown, and a a few stalky friends and family. ANYWAYS, this is a great topic, I have to talk about how we came about naming our son...thanks Maggie, again!


I'm Greek Orthodox and in the Church we have the tradition of choosing a patron saint for the baby, and this determines the name. Some wait until the baby is born and choose one of the saints commemorated on that day.

In some families, certain saints have been venerated and chosen for generation after generation, and thereby additional meaning is gained.

I love this tradition because of the spiritual significance and benefit to each soul. Also, it takes the stress off the whole concept of selecting a trendy or popular or 'modern' name.

I'm a newer reader, Maggie, and I like coming here to see what is the discussion. :)


I love hearing why people choose certain names for their kids. I like uncommon girls names because I love my own name and even though it gets mispronounced ALL the TIME I like being the only one I know. So when we were picking girl names I wanted something 1) uncommon 2) that goes with our ridiculously Dutch last name 3) with a nice meaning and 4) that I liked the sound of (obviously.) Then I just threw them out there until we agreed on one. We decided to go with a traditional middle name, Elizabeth, in case she hates her first name, Kalena. Elizabeth happens to be a family name also.

By the way, I'm partial to the name Molly because one of my best friends in high school was named Molly. Well, actually she was named Monica but she went by Molly.

mary margaret

This post makes me giggle a bit. As you can see from my name--I was named Mary Margaret. I know, can you have a more Catholic name? No, you cannot.

I was named for my grandmothers and I wish they had put Margaret first. Only one person in my life has called me Maggie. Actually, he called me Maggie Mae.

Oh, yeah, my brother was John Charles. Well, if your mother had named you Arta (with siblings named Glavin, Ora, and Icel) you, too, might name your children with very traditional names.

My younger daughter is named Anastasia. Remembered it from the old Mass, actually. Oh, sometimes she's Ana, sometimes Stacy, but to me she's always Anastasia Alexis. Seriously love her name, and it fits her!

Not to forget my older daughter, Andrea. I wanted to name her Cathleen, but that became her middle name. She is very glad that her first name is not Cathleen. I can't think why..... I've pointed out to her that her name is actually "John", just in a different language.

Really like Molly..but it's just a nickname for Mary, isn't it? Or is that an English/Irish thing?


You know what's funny? Geneva was one of our "we like it but could never pull it off" names. Adam went there a couple years ago and swears it is the most gorgeous city ever.


Molly is traditionally a nickname for Mary so you have your Mary name! Choosing a girl's name was easy for us -- we had lots we liked and one that stood out. But if we had had a boy...he might currently be a 15mo without a name.

I think you definitely chose right -- Molly and Jack seem just like a Molly and a Jack from all your stories and pictures. And I'm an expert, of course, because I read your blog :)


Elizabeth is my favorite name in the whole world. I love it and was so excited to name my daughter Elizabeth Sharon (Sharon after her grandma in heaven). We call her Betsy and it fits her perfectly. I don't know how I will find such a perfect name the 2nd time around if we are so blessed.


Geez, I saw the post title and the first sentence and I thought you were pregnant again! That's what I get for getting so far behind in my blog reading. If I talked about my kids by their actual names on my blog I would tell you which one of the names you love that I actually named my third daughter, but alas . . .

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