The whole process of naming a baby can cause some parents to practically check into the insane asylum. There are so many choices, good names, bad names, names that mean things you never realized, names that will make family members angry, names no one likes. It's exhausting and is a world full of judgment and potential regret. For me, though, there is really only one way to name a baby: for a deceased family member.
My husband and I have gone back and forth on this for years. We have talked about names for our first two children and how they should be named. In Judaism, children are named for ancestors. But the truth is, it's not because I'm a religious person. I just like names with deep meaning.
A child IS the product of all the generations that came before him or her. There is deep history and roots, and all of that is reflected by one thing: the name.
A name like Braelynn or Mandilynn or some other trend might seem fun and cool in the moment, and by all means, if you like those names, go for them.
They aren't for me, though. A name needs to have history. It needs to connect with all that came before. My son is named directly for my grandfather and my daughter is named for my mother by taking the "S" from my mother's name. They also share the same Hebrew name.
My husband's mother recently died, and we are also in talks about a third child. I feel strongly that we need to name him or her for my husband's mother, but he doesn't necessarily feel the same. He is content to use the middle name for that purpose and just name our third whatever first name we like.
But I see what giving a child a name with meaning does for the child. My daughter beams with pride when she tells people that she is named for her "mommy's mommy who died before I met her." I know she feels connected to my mother because of their shared first letter. On her sixth-month birthday, we had a naming ceremony for her that publicly announced her name and why we gave it to her. Her name is a piece of my mother still alive.
Meanwhile, I would swear my almost-5-year-old son has taken on the characteristics of my silly, wild grandfather. He even looks a bit like him. Is it a coincidence? Maybe. But I love that he is named for my grandfather and it helps me feel like even though they never met, they are connected.
A name is on the family tree forever. It will be passed through the years and remind us of all that came before. I don't want to waste something as important as a name with a trivial, fleeting trend.
So, my husband and I will continue to go back and forth until this possible third child arrives. And then I will win. After all, he gets the last name. This child will have a name that matters.
How do you name your children?