Francesca Clark > Celebrant  > What’s In A Name?

What’s In A Name?

Writing naming ceremonies is always fun as, for a name nerd like myself, I love speaking to parents about the story behind their child’s name. For some it’s a name they’ve loved since they were a child. For others it’s a name that seemed to come out of the blue once they saw their child for the first time (ultrasounds don’t count, who can name their baby based on those often strange little pictures).
The latter is true in my case. We had a list of possible monikers but didn’t even consider our son’s name (Maximilian) until after he’d arrived. It was only by chance at the hospital that my husband had a book in his bag with Maximilian in the title. When he went to get something to eat I looked at the name and at our new baby and just knew. After a quick Google to make sure there weren’t any famous (or infamous) people with his name, my husband came back from lunch I said ‘what about Maximillian?’. He liked the name and so that was that.  I sometimes wonder if we should have chosen a name with a more specific meaning to us, but then I see how he perfectly fits ‘Max’ and I stop wondering. He’s clearly, obviously, definitely a Max.
Including the story of a child’s name can be a really funny and often emotional part of naming ceremonies. I’ve heard stories of misspellings, mispronunciation, and forgotten middle names. Similarly, there are many children whose names honour those of family members who are no longer with us, or other important people in their parents’ lives. Middle names can be a lovely way to remember special people in our lives, and it also gives your child the option to go by their middle name if they prefer it when they are older. As in the case of Bruce Willis, his actual first name of Walter doesn’t sound quite as tough as Bruce does it?
Before a baby arrives there can feel like there is an awful lot of pressure to have found the ‘perfect’ name. A name you love that is universally liked but not too well known, balances out competing in-laws desires,  is impossible to shorten, has no celebrity associations and isn’t connected with a grisly crime, works well with your last name, won’t create an embarrassing acronym (my husband’s Headteacher was Mrs Head and called her son Richard, known as ‘Dick’)  and is immune to playground teasing. As you can see, that name probably doesn’t exist. Instead, I would suggest focusing on your instinct and on the names that really speak to you. And don’t forget, you’ll be the one saying it 100 times a day when your little one is running around causing chaos when they’re older!
I’m currently expecting my second child and so I’m very much in the thick of ‘naming frenzy’. I’m going to make sure I take some of my own advice and realise that there is no such thing as the perfect name, but there is the perfect name for your child. But it might just take you meeting them for it to click into place.