Baby Name Regret

In the grocery store check-out line is where my daughter shines. Like the lady who brings her checkbook and box of coupons, Ellis thinks a line is a place where you mix and mingle. I’m trying to instill within her the American value of line-irritation, but my lessons are met with the same smile and chubby hand wave she gives to everyone—methhead, grandma and man with long silver hair and gold teeth.

And they all inevitably smile back and say, “Oh, what’s her name?”

“Ellis,” I say trying to sound exactly the opposite of what I am—hungry and irritated.

“Alice?”

“Ellis.”

“Elise?”

“ELLIS, like the park.”

“Oh, you named her after a park?”

And I turn to Ellis and grimace. Why do you make me talk to people?

According to one British poll, over half of parents regret their child’s name. And according to a Today Show poll, one in 10 moms regrets their child’s name. And initially, after Ellis was born, I regretted her name. “She’s so happy and sunny!” I wailed. “She should be named June!”

My husband disagreed. “Once you get some sleep, you’ll be happy.” Ellis is traditionally a boy’s name and according to the Social Security name base, very uncommon. We named her Ellis, because Emily Bronte used the name Ellis Bell as a pseudonym, in order to publish Wuthering Heights. In Victorian England, Emily Bronte wrote rich, dark novels, making a name for herself in a male-dominated society. And yet, it also means “benevolence.” The balance of soft and strong of male and female. She also has my middle name, which is my mother’s middle name. She comes from a long line of crazy, and we wanted to celebrate that.

In the Today Show article, the author seems to think parents who regret their
children’s names are the ones who gave them something unusual. But I doubt that. It’s the parents I know who gave their children common names, who often wish they had named them something more uncommon. A friend of mine often wishes she’d named her “Matthew” something like “Jerrod” or “Shane.” Wild picks for that sweater-set wearing Republican.

It’s been a year and Dave was right, after getting more sleep I love my daughter’s name and the next time I want to go with something even more unique and unusual. Something that will bless that child with a legacy of meaning and something that will at least allow them to be a Supreme Court justice.

But the next time someone says, “You named your kid after Ellis Boulevard?” I’ll smile and tell them, “Yeah, that’s where she was conceived.”

I’ll probably never see that person again anyway.

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