My friend Jenny suggested we email you guys because we are having serious naming problems.
*Our last name starts with M and is too short to support an M name.
*We don't know the gender
*We are small people and while we are great runners and in good shape I'm pretty sure this kid is going to be a bit of a nerd, and small and if it's like me at all, lack all hand-eye coordination. So if it is a boy we'd like to avoid names that rhyme with jerk or can be made into horrible rhymes.
*We either want the middle name Rae or Ray for my paternal grandmother or something after my mom but here's the thing - my mom, who died a few years ago, was named Bernice. But she hated her name. She once tried to change it at camp and wandered off when everyone was screaming JUNE! because she forgot she had changed her name.
*For boy names we like names that end in -en or -an and we love old fashioned names that have awesome nicknames (Sebastian, with Baz as the nickname, is a contender)
*We like old fashioned girl names too, and we have a few. Boy names are way harder for some reason
*But here's the biggest problem. Because of what I do, I can't actually come "out" to a lot of people - I'm not like in the military or anything. So it is really just me, my husband and my pregnant insomnia working overtime.
Thanks! And in the interim thank you for having the site which is perfect for reading over 3 am peanut butter.
The mother-namesake dilemma has seized my attention, so let's start with that. I know from previous posts on this subject that we as a group have mixed feelings about using a honor name when the person-to-be-honored hated the name. My own opinion is that there's a difference between hating one's own name and not wanting it used for a namesake---but that this is why we have to apply such things on a case-by-case basis. There are people who would be indignant and upset if you used their hated name on a baby, and there are people who would be even more deeply honored that you loved them enough to use the name they think would be a challenge to use. (It's one thing to name a baby after your Grandma Grace when the name Grace is fully in style, and another thing entirely to name a baby after your Grandma Earline when the name Earline is not.) There are people who would say grouchily "I don't know why you'd want to give a name like mine to a baby!" and continue saying it every time they saw you, and there are people who would find they loved their own name more after seeing it on a sweet little baby.
In the case of your mom's name, you'll have to guess. Or since she is not here to care one way or another if her name is used, you could consider what the other people in your family will think about it: will they think, shocked, "But Bernice always HATED her name!!" or will they think "Oh, how nice!" Or you can consider how you personally will think of it: will you wince thinking of how she hated her name, or will it bring to mind only your mother herself?
If you decide not to use her name, there are many interesting options to consider.
1. Would her middle name or her maiden name work?
2. Use June: she WISHED it were her name. Or any other name she repeatedly mentioned as a name she'd rather have had.
3. Are there any names she repeatedly said she wished she'd used on a child, or did she ever mention she'd love to have a grandchild named ____?
4. Did she have a nickname she went by, something that could be used as a name?
5. I see in The Oxford Dictionary of First Names that a nickname for Bernice is Binnie. That's adorable.
6. I think it's reaching to use names that "have the same meaning" as the name in question, but it's a fairly common practice. Bernice means "she who brings victory"; other names with similar meanings (according to Baby Names Made Easy) are Colette, Jaia, Jocelyn, Nicole, Veronica, Victoria. But would any of those bring your mother to your mind?
7. I also think it's reaching to do "same first initial" namesakes---but again, it's fairly common practice. Any B name would fit this. But again: would any of those bring your mother to your mind?
8. Now I will REALLY reach, because we're here anyway: could you use your mom's birthstone, or birth month, or birth month flower? Would anything special to her (a collection, a favorite saint, a favorite location, a favorite flower) work as a name?
9. Do you have another honor name you'd like to use that could be combined with Bernice? For example, if your husband's mother was named Jeannine, you might be able to pull off a Jennice sort of thing.
I think if it were me and if it were my mom, I would use her name in the middle name slot as-is. Everyone else would know what I meant by it, even if my mom had always hated her name (it's not like anyone would think I was intending anything but an affectionate honor), and also I know my own mom would be pleased by the honor even if she didn't like the name---just as she'd likely be pleased if I kept a framed photo of her, even if she'd never liked the way she looked. And besides, she wouldn't be here to mind anymore, so I'd be using the name for my own sentimental reasons and to be reminded of her and to let my daughter have something belonging to the grandmother she didn't get a chance to know. Using Veronica or Bridget wouldn't give me any of those same things, just as framing a photo of someone else's mother wouldn't be a workaround.
I just had one more idea. I'm not sure I can think of any good examples that work, and we might need to make up some names, but I kind of love the concept: we'd HIDE your mom's name within your daughter's name. Like this: Ember Nicelle. September Nicelle. Berni Cecile. Aubern Icene. Main problem: pretty much NOTHING ends with -bern or starts with Nice-, and certainly nothing old-fashioned, and I totally had to make up and/or misspell names to get even a few unlikely examples. We could start playing with spelling, but then it's like all those kids named Naveah and Neveah: it doesn't make sense if it doesn't have a hidden word in it anymore. Sigh. Well, I suppose the idea is a bust, but it might work for other people trying to use a name in similar circumstances.
I will tear myself away from this topic and turn my attention to the other issue. An old-fashioned boy name, not starting with M, ideally ending with -n, ideally appropriate for a small-framed nerdy type, with good nicknames. Hm. I came up pretty dry on that, but we will hope the commenters have more success.
Alexander (Alex, Zan, Xander)
I think your choice of Sebastian/Baz is best, though I am also partial to Wilson/Will and Augustus/Gus and Calvin/Cal.