Trying to draw a line between who you are, and who you invent

I have grown up with a name that is different, or weird in some peoples eyes.
I grew up, honestly, hating it. Coral. Thats the name of an under water sketital deposit. Its dried ocean things people put on shelves because it looks neat.Of course I hated it.
I grew up going to school with eight different Jessicas. I knew more Jennifers and Allisons and Kristys (or Kristinas) than I could keep track of.
And that was just the girls. I grew up being made fun of by Matthews and Chris’ and Justins alike. When youre a kid, whether most people will admit it or not, fitting in is difficult. And if being ‘normal’ is what you so wish you could be, theres nothing worse than being a Coral, when all you have ever wanted is to be a Danielle or a Leanne.

That said, I have grown into my name. I had such disdane for it, I would write stories and sign them ‘Dana’ all the time. I refused to accept that the name I had, was the one I had to have. Im sure it made my mother feel awesome. The name she chose so carefully, picked to wrap beautifully around the child she so adored, looked at with disgust from its owner. But I was a kid, and I hated being on the outside.
But, as I stated, it has become me. I learned to ignored the curious eyebrows from my peers, and the ‘what a BEAUTIFUL name’ comments from their parents.
I started to WANT to be different from my friends, to TRY to be a little weird, and anything but ‘normal’.

Now? I LOVE my name. I love when people question whether they have heard me right. I am so grateful that my name ISNT Jessica (no offence of course, to any Jessicas reading).

I decided that I didnt want my daughter to have a ‘normal’ run of the mill name. (Mind you, normal now, is Apple and Zephyr and Gidget). But I didnt want her to curse me under her breath either.

When J and I discovered we were parents to be we quickly decided on a boys name. Simple and timeless. Handsome and strong. Then we found out our little bundle to be was a girl, so we came back to the drawing table. I had a name I ADORED, and I happily breathed it to J, awaiting his eyes to widen and his face to break into a smile. But, as it turns out, he too had a name. It occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t the only one who dreamt up a name so perfect for my first daughter, that maybe 15 year old J had had that same epiphany.
And the name he loved so much? Madeleine.


Yes, Madeleine. You know, after Madeleine Stowe, from Last of the Mohicans. My favorite movie EVAR!?

And, it turned out that my favorite chosen name didn’t work with Madeleine following it. It didn’t flow. Didn’t sound good. It wasn’t the name I imagined murmuring sweetly over and over. I couldnt even imagine yelling it when she refused to put on a more appropriate shirt. How could I call my daughter by any name other than her own?!

So, I smiled, and I nodded, and I agreed to think about it. Inside I shelfed it and KNEW it would never be open for discussion again.

A few months down the road and its one am and something has just gushed unannounced from within, and Im in labour.

*eleven hours*

Shes beautiful. Shes perfect. Shes…. Madeleine.

Well, kind of. Shes Madelyn.

Now, I will admit, there have been nights that I crawl into her room and gaze at her (sounds hand that rocks the craddle-y) and I whisper her name, and then I pause, and make sure its just us, and then I whisper her other name, just to see.  Just to make sure we really DID give her the right name. And sometimes when we’re playing ‘mommy builds towers and Maddy destroys them’ I coo and giggle and call her by the name I tucked behind, just to see if she looks up at me and smiles and says ‘Yeah, thats for finally getting it right mom!’ But it always feels…. off.  Like Im calling her Jessica, or Laura. It isnt her.

So shes Madelyn. Madelyn Olivia. (Because I still had to have it in there somewhere.) And when shes fifteen and hates me and her father for giving her ‘like, the lamest name EVAR’, and only wishes to be addressed as Quaniffa, then yeah, we can talk. But I hope she sees that its such a beautiful name, and it meant so much to us when we looked at her, and it was so suited to her face that it could have been written in her eyes. And that she keeps it, and grows to love it. Because its a beautiful name.


Filed under baby, History 101

9 responses to “Trying to draw a line between who you are, and who you invent

  1. Pingback: and the worst part is that there is no one else to blame / be my friend « The Morning After

  2. jameslrr

    1. I always thought your name was cool. True story

    2. Show Maddy this story and i am sure she will be a little more accepting over “like, the lamest name EVAR”

    3. I plan on naming my baby girl Paige. IT’S GENIUS! (For those who don’t know my last name, Turner. Paige Turner.

  3. really, you write beautifully. that’s such a nice story.

  4. vancityrockgirl

    it is indeed a beautiful name… and it so seems to suit her. i can’t picture you calling your little one anything other than miss maddy o

    and ironically, it totally will be the “jessica” of 2008.
    according to BC vital statistics, Olivia was the 6th most popular baby name for 2008 in British Columbia (so far), and Madelyn (with all the various spellings added together) came in at number 7.
    Ava, Hannah, Emily, Abbigail, Chloe, Emma, Olivia and Madelyn are the new Michelle, Jessica, Christina, Christine and Allisons
    so i don’t think she’ll hate you when she’s older for that lovely classic name. she’ll have plenty of company with it.

  5. Caitlin

    If you named her anything else, then her initials wouldn’t be MOB. Which is pretty awesome.

  6. Oh, yes. The wondrous joys of being named Jen. I remember in school, it was sometimes even Jen H. or Jen With One N or Jennifer with brown hair. It’s no wonder I chose Huckdoll as my pen name 😉

    I think Coral is a gorgeous name as is Madelyn!

    When I found out that I was having girls, we seriously couldn’t decided for the life of us two first and two middle names and it wasn’t until the last moment that we chose Callie Sophia (named after Calleigh Duchesne, the ballistics expert on CSI: Miami and Sophia, my favorite Golden Girl) and Lily Grace (Lily, my fav flower and Grace, my grandmothers middle name and Colin’s cat’s first) … So for, so good…haven’t met THAT many kids with those names yet and I’m hoping they won’t be on the Top 10 baby names of 2005 lists, but you never know.

    If so, I’ll just keep calling them The Lilymeister and The Calster 🙂

  7. But, why DANA? (I totally went through a thing in grade two when I signed all of my assignments and test as being done by Rose. WTF, yo?)

  8. I think you choose wisely. Madelyn is a great name and fortunately while in foreign countries, it doesn’t translate into the most hated person on earth or when shortened becomes a girls name! Argg, those darn French!

  9. cynicalceej

    Wow this post really resonantes with me – “Casey-Jo” – how many Casey-Jo’s do you know!? I always wanted my name to be Mandy or Jenny – hah! I feel like you just explained exactly how I felt growing up!! And let’s not get STARTED on my last name!

    This is a wonderful entry and I love the name Madelyn!

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