I had been away for the Labor Day weekend, and then I got sick, but as promised now that I'm back, I'm going to pick up on the story behind my son's name.
Had Fiona been a boy, she would have been named Max for Maxwell. That was the name I mentally filed away for a future son when I was a teenager. You know, I liked Max, mostly because I knew a cute boy at school named Max, back when it was edgy and sporty, but I was never completely satisfied with Max like I was with Felicity, the name I filed away for a future daughter. Within the context of the newest generation of kids, Max never felt quite edgy enough for me. But truthfully I wasn't as excited about picking a boy's name and I figured if my son's name was somewhat mainstream that was OK.
Unlike Felicity however, my hubs just loved Max. I didn't like how Max went with our last name that also begins with an M. But Rob really loved it, and when I was pregnant with Fiona, Rob was convinced she was a boy and was already thinking of her as "Max" so the discussion was ended, Max she would be, until we found out she was a she.
When I got pregnant for the second time, I was long over Max. I had discovered between all the boys named Maxwell, Maximilian, Maximus who went by Max combined with all the boy who were just named Max, that equaled a lot of Max's. I said I didn't care if my son's name was somewhat mainstream, but somewhat mainstream is not the same as completely mainstream, and Max had become completely mainstream. And then there's the alliteration with my last name. Surprisingly Rob was OK with abandoning Max, especially when I told him I didn't like the alliteration. I knew not to bring up the popularity argument because that didn't matter to Rob. If anything, the popularity probably would have convinced Rob to stick with the name.
When Fiona was about a year old, I discovered the name Linus. This was it. I had the eureka moment I had with Felicity. For the first time, I found a boy's name that truly inspired me. But did Linus inspire Rob? At this point, if you read the story behind Fiona's name (and you are still with me), you probably can guess the answer to that question. Here's our conversation we had while I was pregnant with Paul with me trying in vain to convince Rob to go with Linus:
Rob: Linus? Are you serious? He's Charlie Brown's friend with the blanket.
Me: Linus is a classic in Sweden.
Rob: We don't live in Sweden.
Me: Linus is also a Greek god, who was Apollo's son. He was a gifted musician who taught music to the gods.
Rob: Do you really think our son is going to walk around bragging about being named after some Greek god!?!?!?!
Rob's stubbornness was true to form. I didn't expect Rob to like Linus but I was very surprised that he vetoed all of my other suggestions: Louis, Stuart, Oscar, Calvin. Rob didn't like any of them. I thought he would at least go along with Louis, Stuart or Calvin. I wasn't surprised that he didn't like Oscar. I didn't seriously consider my second favorite boy's name, Hugh, because it sounds very British and I don't like it with our very Italian last name. I asked him for suggestions and the only name he could come up with was Samuel. Samuel was not only way too popular, but Sam, which I find ugly with our last name because the M's would run together, was unavoidable IMO.
Paul is a name that is on a lot of birth certificates in my family but no one ever used it. My Great Grandfather was Raymond Paul, my Grandfather is Paul Donald, but he was supposed to be Donald Paul and goes by Don or P. Donald on formal documents (long story), and my brother is Anthony Paul.
As a kid, Paul is one of those names I would have written off as boring, but over the last couple of years I began to think about Paul. I wondered why it was always a middle name in my family and never seen as good enough for a first name. I thought how my brother's name would be more interesting if it was reversed: Paul Anthony. I thought of all of the great Paul namesakes through history, Paul Revere, Paul McCartney, Paul Newman, and to a lesser extent, but as a modern (and gorgeous) example, Paul Walker. All of the famous Paul's seemed to be decent, handsome men.
Being a big-time name fanatic I started to realize that the trend was towards more exotic names, and suddenly white bread names like John, Mark, Peter, and Paul, my generation's parents' and grandparents' names, begun to stand out. I found myself suggesting Paul to certain parents on name blogs (the ones who liked names like Joeseph, Benjamin, and Jack, but couldn't use them for whatever reason), but I don't think any one ever took my suggestion.
Basically while it started off near the bottom of my list, as a name I would have loved to see on more modern babies, but not a name I considered seriously for one of my own, Paul became our front-runner. Rob wasn't excited about it, but he agreed to it due to the family connections. We always though our son's middle name would be Rob's middle name, which happens to be my Father-in-Law's middle name, James. That way both of our children would be the third generation heir to their middle names. But I wanted to avoid PJ like the plague, and we ended up using Robert for the middle name, which is not only my husband's name, but was his Great Grandfather's name. Somehow I managed to name both of my children after both sides of the family while still giving them their own unique first name within the family. (Fiona's middle name is not only my middle name and my Mom's middle name, but my sister-in-law's first name.)
I'll be honest. I wasn't excited to put Paul Robert on the birth announcement, but the solid manly classic grows on me more each day. And while Fiona has been, admittedly, a little disappointing in it's uniqueness, I have yet to run into another Paul under the age of 5. While anecdotal, I was convinced of Paul's relative uniqueness, when I was at a party and a 7 or 8 year-old girl ask me my son's name. When I said, Paul, she smiled and said, "That's different. I like that."
More importantly, my son was named for both sides of my family. When I was in the hospital, shortly after giving birth to Paul, my Grandmother said, "Thank you." And I couldn't figure out why she was thanking me except for maybe giving them a great grandson. Seeing what must have been my puzzled expression, she said, "For the name. Thank you for the name."
In conclusion, nether one of my kids got my first choice name, and that's a good thing.
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