Thursday, December 23, 2010

What's in a name?

Before I start on my planned post, let me tell everyone that Miniorc woke up at 2 a.m. this morning and stayed up til 5 a.m. I'm waiting for my crankiness factor to go sky-high. Currently the coffee is keeping it at bay.

I was shopping with a friend yesterday and I was telling him that I hate it when people call me "dear" or "honey" unless they have major gray hairs. I don't reach 5'2", and frequently bigger people, unknowingly or not, do that whole looming/power thing. It's why I want a monster truck that someone would have to haul me into. Power, people. When you trivialize my name, you assume familiarity and a sort of power over me. And when I'm the retail guru helping you find a book? You don't have that right. But I can't really say anything, because most of the time they seem like nice people, and I don't want to turn nice retail customers into annoyed retail customers. They start to yell.

And I know not everyone feels like I do. But we have names for a reason, and I'm kinda sensitive about mine.

For instance, my middle brother is named a cool name. A good friend of my parents called 'em up and told them that she had had a dream and God told her to tell them to name him these particular names. My parents had already been leaning toward those exact names, and so his name was created. He was named by God, people.

My youngest brother's name means "old friend". At the exact moment of birth a song by my mom's favorite artist, "Old Friend", was playing. How cool is that? And he really is like an old friend to everyone. He picked up two strays (from his school) for Thanksgiving and brought them home with him.

And me? My dad picked out my name. He choose it because it was pretty. That's it. No story, no words from God. And my mom put one of those filler middle names in my name. My dad didn't believe in middle names. This lack of backstory prompted me to launch on a massive search that would find some cool meaning to my name. And also that summer when I was thirteen and copied the girl's section of the baby name book. Bruce Lansky, in case you were wondering. He's got a lot of baby name books out. The coolest meaning I came up with was "captivating waterfall". I like the captivating part, but I'm not sure about the waterfall part. I did do research on those words and their origins as well, trying to dig deeper meaning out of it. I'm not sure where I put all my copious research, which is sad.

And my kids? They each have five names. All carefully researched and chosen for their meaning and how well they fit with the other names. Orclette's is rather battle-driven, since I knew she was going to be a girl and I didn't want her to be at a disadvantage. And she does have a fiery temperament and loves her Jedi sword.

Miniorc's is also martial, but a bit more tempered than Orclette. And it shows. He's the quieter of the two. He's my survival baby. He had a cord wrapped around his neck that sent all the nurses in the maternity wing into a frenzy and made my mother's face drain of all color. Fortunately, I was on an epidural high and didn't realize what was happening. And yes, he was perfectly fine.

See? Both have stories, even though technically not about their names. But stories are comprised of words, so they are important too. My birth? My mom didn't cry. That's what she remembered. She thought she was abnormal.

And the final chapter to this rambling about names. We decided that I would retain my maiden name. Changing one's name to the husband's is a leftover from our patriarchal society, in my opinion. Why couldn't he change his name to mine? The Bible does say a man will leave his parents to be with his wife. Never says anything about the wife leaving her parents. I was willing to hyphenate, but Damm would've also hyphenated his, and that would have caused a ruckus in his family. I wouldn't call them patriarchal, but they're close. So I am still me. With my name given at birth. I retain my identity, and I don't feel that I would have if I had changed my name. Probably seems weird to some, but there you are.


Mania said...

I kept my name both times I married. What creeps me out is how many people challenge me on that when it comes up.

My favorite was the security officer who was working on my clearance during my first marriage. "Are you sure that's legal? I'm pretty certain you have to change your name. I'm just going to fill this out with your husband's name."


As a side note: Threatening to beat up your security officer is a bad idea.

But I did end up with my clearance in my own name.

Wulfa said...

Wow. It may not be the "in" thing to do, but I know several people who have not changed their name. The security officer ... now that's a story:) And come to think of it, Damm has had people ask why I don't have his last name when he's filling out forms. Interesting.

klaki said...

Two things...

1. A name does not define a person. A name is merely a label. God does not look at your name, nor what your name means. God looks at who YOU are. I've been called many things, so not so funny to me, but I don't care. God knows who I am without needing a name to call me by.

2. Not to be offensive, but typically the man is the head of the household. I know I'll catch some flack for that. However, being that, I think if a woman changes her last name to the man's its a gesture signifying never-ending love and a commitment to him and his "family", wanting to become part of it. I don't see anything wrong with keeping your maiden name, just throwing in my 2 cents.

Beowulfa said...

@Klaki: I am proud of my heritage, proud of my maiden last name and also of my mother's. I have considered adding her maiden name to mine. I know a name doesn't define a person, but my names are very important to me. To take Damm's last name would also be to adopt his heritage at the expense of my own, at least in my mind, and I am not willing to do that. The kids do have his last name, although I've considered putting mine in there as one of their middle names:)