Let’s talk names. Specifically my daughters’ names. So far I haven’t mentioned them yet which is either a glaring oversight on my part or six months in, we’re still unable to make a decision.
Well, the honest truth is, I wasn’t sure whether to share their names or not. It seems somehow too personal, something I’m reluctant to divulge willy nilly. And I’ve written a blog detailing every aspect of my wife’s experience of labour, so I’m not scared of over-sharing.
This blog has always been about sharing my parenting experiences, and yet I find myself wanting to hold back on this one revelation.
I can, however, tell you all about the naming process.
Presumably like the bloke who writes Game of Thrones, we spent a lot of time thinking about names. And while this is what most people probably do when expecting, with twins it’s slightly more complex. Lucy and I decided we weren’t going to discover the sex of the twins until birth. Some people think it’s one last lovely surprise on this antenatal journey, but from a naming point of view, it’s a logistical nightmare. At any one time, we were trying to pin down six potential names.
We had to narrow down two girls’ names, two boys’ names and an additional set in case we got one of each (no one wants to discover their name was a sloppy second). Add middle names to that and you’re already hitting double figures. It was, to put it bluntly, ridiculous.
The problem with naming is it relies on real conviction. Something my wife and I, struggle with on a daily basis. Picking a takeaway takes UN-sized discussions, often bringing in third parties to mediate our Just East sessions, so how we were ever going to land on not just two names, but four alternates, plus the additional bumph?
The biggest issue was taking it seriously. As I say, we’re not the best at making concrete decisions – so why we chose to use this discussion as a springboard for our sillier ideas is beyond me. Didn’t we realise the stakes were so high? At one point, we’d joking settled on Aurora Nora and Shauna Lorna and became increasingly convinced we’d probably end up going with them. We didn’t.
However, even if you’re taking it seriously, naming is a minefield. You’ve got to consider nicknames, shortening, school yard taunts – before you know it, you’re working shopping offensive puns on a variety of popular children’s names. One discussion saw us weighing up the name ‘Isabella’ – or ‘Izzy’ – but deciding against it in case, somewhere down the line, a creatively warped child decided to riff on the name ‘Jizzy’. There’s no way you can explain that one to an eight year old.
In the end, we pulled together a list of potentials. Ones we felt strongly about, ones we had heard and liked, ones we sort of liked and ones we put on the list just to pad things out. But as the pregnancy drew to a close we’d keep reminding ourselves that we were no nearer to making a decision.
And then the girls arrived.
In all the hustle and bustle of pushing two tots betwixt two legs, we didn’t really think about the fact we were bringing two nameless sprogs into the world. But once they were here, the realisation hit. Like that feeling you get leading up to the Christmas party when you know you’re going to have to make a decision on the set menu. Sure Parma ham and melon seems like a good starter now, but what about in a month’s time? What if it becomes outdated and archaic? What if you go off it? What if a serial molester rises to prominence and is also called ‘Parma Ham and Melon’? The pressure was on.
In a moment of clarity, we decided the sensible thing to do would be to leave it. Give it a few days, let things settle down, possibly draw up some potential symbols in case we wanted to take the Prince approach, and then have another stab at it.
As it was, we got bored very quickly. If there’s one thing more overwhelming than our inability to make decisions, it’s our lack of patience. By lunchtime the discussion had come round again and, in a freak moment of decisiveness, we named our daughters there and then. First and second names.
I won’t lie, I spent longer coming up with the title for this post, than we did for the names that would define our daughters from here on in. But still, conviction is conviction.
It was refreshing to say the least. Not only had we settled a debate that had been raging since the Clear Blue first flashed its navy strips at us, but we were both happy with the choices we’d made, and in fact, had both contributed a name to the mix. I imagine it was similar to those moments you read about in The Beatles folklore. Everything comes together in a moment of beautiful aural clarity, before everyone goes off and starts complaining to a Japanese multimedia artist with a penchant for shit stirring.
We couldn’t have been happier. Not only had we now got two tiny daughters to love, but we had proved everyone wrong – including ourselves – by picking names we immediately fell for. We were wandering round in a cloud of contentment.
It was at that point that the Mother-in-Law showed up.
Now, a word about Lucy’s mum. She’s brilliant. I love her to bits. But if there’s one thing she loves to do, it’s plant the seed of doubt. Are you sure you don’t want a Chinese? Oh, a boob tube, that’s different. I’ve never seen a banister painted mauve before…
The in-Laws arrived and got themselves settled. Ever the doting son-in-law (I’m quite the catch), I took myself off to get coffees for everyone. I couldn’t have been gone longer than four minutes – five at a push because Costa doesn’t add sugar for you –when I returned our hard work was in disarray. And all thanks to two little words:
While we’d made the decision quickly, we felt we’d exhausted every possible pitfall of these names, however, we’d forgotten this one simple thing: what the initials spelt out. The Mother-in-Law loves that sort of shit. Thankfully, one daughter was fine – W.M.G – that doesn’t really stand for anything. ‘Weapons of Mass Gestrution’ at a push but it’s unlikely to pop up in conversation. However, our other daughter went by the slightly unfortunate R.A.G.
It could have been worse. It wasn’t exactly R.A.T.
The seed had been planted and Lucy was unsure. What followed was a long and arduous debate over whether we could legitimately give our daughter initials that conjured up images of a damp cloth. We couldn’t even switch the first names because then we’d have W.A.G and that was arguably worse. I fought my hardest: people don’t use initials, no one’s going to even think about it, it could stand for Raise and Give – the students would lap it up. But it was no good. We debated into the night, discussing it with every family member that showed up.
Eventually by the second day, discussions had broken down and we’d reached stalemate. Neither of us had the energy to go back to the drawing board and we’d exhausted all potential alternatives. Finally, we realised that by telling every member of the family about the whole R.A.G affair, we’d already drawn unnecessary attention to what was otherwise a rather inane problem.
And so, in a slightly less decisive manner and with minimal fanfare, we agreed to stick with the names we’d originally chosen, primarily because it gave us a birth anecdote that didn’t rely on drawing attention to my wife’s baby-making bits.
If this whole debacle proves anything, it’s that ultimately the best thing you can do as a parent is trust your gut instinct. We hope that we continue to parent this way. It won’t always be the best decision or the right decision, but as long as we feel confident about it and sure of our thinking, then we’re doing the best by our girls. And that’s one thing I’m sure of.