Like William Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” Sure, when Juliet said that, she was referring to the feud between her and Romeo’s family. There’s that. But I still think it is a valid quote. One thing everyone kept asking us was: “Do you already have a name for the baby?”. You can read on to find out why we did not share our baby’s name before he was born.
A NAME IS FOR LIFE
Markus and I both have very different experiences when it comes to our names, as we do with other things. We grew up in two completely different worlds, two different countries and with totally different families.
When I was growing up, and still now, no one apart from my parents was able to pronounce my name. My mother’s family, who have known me since I was two, is still unable to say my name correctly. At least most of them learned how to write it properly. Only took them over 20 years. Personally, I don’t think the name Rosanna (pronounced Rôsânnâ, with closed vowels) is all that hard to say. But from teachers to classmates, and close family, everyone says it wrong. I have been called “Róxanna”, “Róssana” and my family’s all-time favorite “Rússana”. Which is why in high-school my classmates first started calling me Roxy (because of the Chicago movie) and then Ro. My close friends in Portugal still call me the latter. Rosie only came to life in Austria, when I first did Erasmus here and my cousin started calling me that. And let’s not even start talking about my last name, which no one in Portugal is able to pronounce correctly! (I don’t blame them since it is a German name)
Then we have the other side of the spectrum, Markus. He has a name very easy to pronounce and his last name is fairly common in Austria – and no, I will disclose it here. Actually, his name is pretty easy to pronounce in every language, even though my family in Portugal still has issues saying it correctly. I have given up trying to teach them how to correctly say things.
CHOOSING THE NAME
We both agreed that we wanted the baby to have a name easy to pronounce, and especially, a name that would work in multiple languages. Both our names are (if you ignore the examples mentioned above) fairly easy to pronounce and come up in many languages. Markus grew up in Austria, speaking German, and learned English in school. I, while my parents didn’t intend it to happen that way, grew up speaking three languages. Both of my parents speak their mother tongues/native languages (Portuguese and German) with me, and English between themselves.
When I was 3 or 4 they found out I could actually speak English perfectly, after an embarrassing situation in a restaurant – in which my mom thought I had spent 30 min talking with a German couple, only to have them tell her they were actually from the UK and that yes, I indeed spoke English. They probably weren’t sure if she was my mother or not because she clearly had no idea I could speak it. Which just goes to show how kids pick up languages quickly (and how good they are at embarrassing parents).
We both know that we will raise our child with at least two languages, though we are still on the fence about the second one (more about it in another post). It is also somewhat important that my mother is able to say her grandson’s name correctly. And while we could just have gone with Markus Jr, we didn’t. But we also didn’t want an exotic name like the Kardashian-West’s like to call their kids. We are normal folk and normal folk doesn’t name their babies after points of a compass.
So I did what everyone does: I asked Google for names. I then wrote down the names I liked and gave it to Markus. After the usual “oh, I have a colleague/ex-friend/cousin/distant-relative with that name” things, we cut the list down to a handful of names. And then we proceeded to choose a name that was not on the list.
WHY WE ARE NOT SHARING THE BABY’S NAME
Everyone wants to know the name. And you know what else everyone else likes to do? Comment on the name. We saw this happen with my sister-in-law (who had her baby in October), whenever she disclosed which names they were thinking of choosing, everyone would comment on them. Not necessarily bad comments, but comments nonetheless. Which were also often followed by “oh, you know which name I also love?“.
And then there’s my mom’s side of the family, whose middle name should be “the commenters”. Because they love commenting and giving their (mostly unrequested and unnecessary) opinions regarding absolutely everything. You guys know I am someone who tends to give in to what my family wants, even if it isn’t necessarily what I want, and did not want that to happen with something as huge as my baby’s name.
We just don’t want the comments, we don’t want people saying what they think of the name. Some people will love it, some will not and that is ok. But we don’t need to hear that beforehand because it might make us insecure about the name. And even if it doesn’t, we just decided it is best not to tell anyone. Once the baby is here, he will be so adorable that everyone will love him and his name won’t be as important anymore. Everyone still tries to get us to disclose the name saying things like “oh, I won’t tell anyone, you can tell me, I can keep a secret!“.
Choosing a name for someone you don’t know yet is already a huge responsibility – at least it feels like that to me – and some really personal. It is up to the parents if they choose to disclose the name prior to the baby’s arrival or not. We are lucky that most people understand that, but even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t change things. Would you disclose the name of your baby or also keep it a secret?