Minnesota Mamaleh: You Birth ‘Em, You Name ‘Em

In our married adventures my husband Jason and I have had our ups and downs in decision making. Sometimes I give. Sometimes he gives. And let’s just face it—sometimes we test each others’ limits just to see who will blink first.

One of our biggest decisions together was naming our children. Such a big deal! We wanted something beautiful, meaningful, musical and well, to be honest, easy to pronounce.

I grew up extremely shy. The painful-to-talk kind of shy. My Israeli name was almost always mispronounced. Friends, acquaintances anyone really was more likely to correct teachers, bus drivers, dentists, doctors than I was. Gah-leet. That’s phonetic. Gayle, Gu-lit, Gillette (the best a man can…oh forget it) are not phonetic. I hated correcting people so I often let the mispronunciations go.

As I got older I tried to go with the flow and let my name be the conversation piece that it vied to be, “It means little wave. Like in the ocean. Not a wave good bye.” *Insert blush* and then *Insert kind exclamation* “Oh! It’s so different! “Oh! So pretty!” “Oh! I’ve never heard that before!”

While I somewhat enjoyed the predictability that introductions held for me, I most often would get struck by that same feeling of AWKWARDNESS. And to be honest, I just didn’t want that for my kids. At the same time I did want the obvious connection to our culture, our story. So in order to give them a name with a meaning AND a chance at a lifetime of stress-free introductions, Jason and I decided to give our kids an American first name and an Israeli middle name.

Phew. Decision made. Now the fun part, right? What to choose, what to choose. Being the natural-born list maker that I am I started a notebook with lists. American first names. Israeli middle names. American first names AND Israeli middle names TOGETHER. Being the natural born wonderful husband that Jason is, he made lists with me.

We had finally chosen a gorgeous name for our daughter Kayli Adina and decided to share it with our families. “Is that one word? I like the middle name more. I’m going to call her a shortened version of the middle name. You can’t control what people call her. Have you considered your grandmother’s name?

Honest-to-God, real reactions of our families. Hello, people—our child, our name, right? So wrong. From that moment forward, it became just between Jason and me. We didn’t tell anyone our thoughts for fear of their reactions. And we held onto that “rule” for all three kids.

Now, without everyone else’s criticisms, err- opinions, the decision making process should have been easy, right? We had lists people. Lots of them. But, a little known secret is that Jason is just as stubborn as I am and didn’t give in as easily as I thought (wished) he would. Eventually, I did indeed get to pick all three kids names and only once did I have to sink to the lows of the “you birth ‘em, you name name ‘em rule.” BUT, our kids’ names are PERFECT for them and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that their names were JUST RIGHT.

As their hand-picked by me, I mean us, Israeli middle names predicted, Kayli Adina is the gentlest soul ever, Chloe Liora could light up (and well, destroy, but never mind that) any room, at any time and Brody Adar is the most joyful little man.

Mamas, listen closely. Make lists. Talk. Discuss. But at the end of the day: “You birth ‘em, you name ‘em” because you know your child. The little bundle was made INSIDE you, after all. And when a name feels right in your gut and you can imagine saying that name in a sweet voice, a sleepy voice, a whiny voice, a yell, with an eye roll and so on and so on land on it and quickly have something monogrammed with it before anyone can change your mind. Trust yourself, mama. I do!