One question I get asked a lot is “Where did you come up with your baby names?”. I have a Finnegan, a Leven, a Jack (no wonder there though), a Tallis and a Wellesley. So yeah, I guess they have sort of “weird” names. But really, aren’t all names weird?
I grew up in the 80s, as a Jennifer. I still cannot pinpoint the time when someone, not me, chose to call me “Jenny” rather than just Jennifer (my actual given name) or “Jen” or “Jenn” like some other 80s gals like myself. These shortenings were necessary because there were a LOT of Jennifers back then. A lot of Jennifers, a lot of Stephanies, a bunch of Laurens, so you had to either nickname yourself or you were “Jennifer W”, or, as one gym teacher called me because there were so many Jennifers, “Sister Witte” (I had two older brothers). Thank you Mr. Sutera.
So, when I had kids, I decided I wasn’t going to pick a name that everyone had, because I grew up with a name that everyone had. And I didn’t like it. I wanted to be different, dammit! I didn’t care that my future children would never be able to find their names in those license plate name keychains, they would have a somewhat unique name. Not a Jennifer name.
Boys names were easier for me, but girls names were tricky, especially for my first. We call her Levy (lev-ee not lee-VI) but her real name is Leven, and it means “life” in Dutch. Why did I pick it? It just sounds beautiful to me, and I love that it means life. I also love that she’s the only Leven in her school (probably not the only Leven in all the schools, but she’s the only one in her school as of right now). There are Levis, mostly boys, but no other Levens.
Now, people may argue, well just because you had a more widely used name why would you want to saddle your daughter with a weird name? And to them I tell you, “Jennifer” probably sounded pretty weird at first too. People didn’t spring onto earth all named Jennifer, or Emma, or Hayley, or whatever popular name you want to pick. There was a first at some point.
When you get right down to it, picking a name for a newborn can seem kinda ridiculous anyway. Here you are, deciding what this other person will most likely be called for the rest of their lives. YOU get to decide it. Before they are born usually. No pressure though.
Once you crack open that baby naming book (or app, whatever) you find out just how difficult it can actually be to find a name you like. A name you BOTH like. First start by weeding out any ex boyfriend or girlfriend names. Then you get down to kids you didn’t like in school (I once vetoed a name because of a girl who was mean to me ONCE in gymnastics class, true story, thank you pregnancy hormones!), then you have to consider if you want to name your kid something that a friend of yours already used, then let’s get down to celebrity baby names and avoiding those (or gravitating toward, whatever floats your boat). Then once you DO settle on a name if you’re like me you gotta think monogram and that can cut out a whole swath of potential names.
All I’m saying is, it’s hard. But really, the name JENN-NEE is not so much weirder sounding than LEV-EE now is it? It’s not. So if you’re thinking of going in a different direction with your baby names, I say go for it. Get weird with it. Do your thing, mama, do your thing.