photo via poppytalk.

when ramona was baking away in my belly, jp and i mulled over a list of names that we loved for our future child. we didn’t know if little bean was a boy or girl so we had a list for each gender. we both came to the table with some names we had each loved personally. going through these names we had some “rules” for what would make the cut:

  1. the name couldn’t be popular; had to be nearly non-existent from the social security administration list of popular baby names.
  2. it couldn’t be a made-up name. or too weird. or a normal name with a funky spelling. that just would not do.

ramona it was (i explain in this post where ramona marilyn gets her name from). our boy name? we’ve told some people what it was going to be but we’re still holding on to that one in case baby power #2 is a boy.

in thinking about ramona’s name and thinking about her as a social and relational creature, jp and i get excited imagining the day when she can use her words to address us. i’ve always called my parents “mama and papa” and we plan to have ramona call us the same. looking at the caption of a recent photo on a friend’s instagram feed i realize that “mama and papa” are names also used for grandparents. so how does a family choose what names loved ones are going to go by? here’s what we did.

1. mama and papa: jp and i chose this bc it’s what i had grown up (and still do) calling my parents. i love the softness of the words; they are gentle and familiar and personal in a way that i do not find mom or dad to be. if she ends up moving away from mama and papa when she is older, that will be alright (though i very well might be a little sad about it). however neutral my opinion on mom and dad to be, i have a very strong opinion on mommy and daddy. i. do. not. like. those. names. i know, perhaps it’s an odd and snobby thing to have a strong opinion on but those words/names just always sound so whiny, never very cute, and always really weird to me when people grow up and continue calling their parents mommy and daddy. the gentleness of mama and papa are not present in mommy and daddy.

2. nona and pops: these are the names my parents go by with their grandchildren. nona comes from strega nona, a favorite childhood book character. my mother shares her whimsy and uniqueness. pops, well, bc that’s just what perfectly fits my dad: a grandpa who is always really fun, never too serious,always ready to play or use his imagination.

3. diri and dido: these are the names that jp’s parents will go by. my father-in-law is the director of U.S. partner development for global hope network international. he works with villages in developing nations, mostly in africa. in one village, they gave my father and mother-in-law (who sometimes travels with him) african names: him, dido; her, diri. i love that ramona will be calling them these unique names that were given to them out of utmost respect and appreciation (which goes to show the kind of people my in-laws are).

4. aunts and uncles: ramona has the most fabulous aunts and uncles. seriously. there is going to be no shortage of fun and spoiling and field trips and babysitters and inside jokes and tickling and love. and i can’t wait to see what names creep up for each of them. these names seem to come more from the child since there’s always an element of the first name in saying aunt and uncle. the only one we’re already planning on is uncle sticks for my brother (sticks was his longtime childhood nickname that my parents still call him; something about the way he always had a stick in his hand when out playing and exploring). but the terms aunts and uncles are, i believe, not just reserved for immediate family. it does, after all, take a village to raise a child, and our village has certainly shown it is up for the task. already amy is known as auntie amy, and there’s uncle eric and aunt lizzie and all these amazing people who have shown they love and care for our daughter and are committed to ensuring the best for her. these names won’t be pushed, of course,–ultimately it’s ramona who decides what she wants to call anyone–but giving someone a term of endearment is a way of showing respect and love and appreciation for their involvement in our little one’s life. and we hope ramona feels that way too.

what do your kids call you? what do you want to be called by your child or niece or nephew?


5 Responses to what’s in a name?

  1. IO always tell Josh that I want to be called Mamajamma, but I’d settle for mama. Or honestly, what ever my little bean bag whats to call me I’d be coo with that too.

  2. melinda sue says:

    when naming asher we were looking for similar things… not popular, has meaning, sounds okay with the crazy last name boucher (boo-shay). we started looking at hebrew names, knowing that they may have strong roots. asher was a little high on the popularity, but nowhere near the top 100 when we picked it. (somewhere like 170) it is now near 90. boo… who knew? next time we will look for something a little more off the radar.

    i love mama. i will hope asher calls me mama until i am white haired and wrinkly, and he is a strong grown up man of his own.

    i don’t think matthew cares what his son calls him, as long as it’s not a-hole.

    my mom wants to be ma-maw (maa- like the noise a sheep makes, maw- like rhymes with saw) and i hate this. it is far too close to mama to me, and sounds ignorant i think. i should probably tell her this before i just start having asher call her something else (i like nona or nana even mimi). my dad will be papa.

    my mother in law is yaya. (her dad was greek her mother danish, and died when she was 16, it is a very special way to respect to them, as they never knew any of their own grandchildren) and my father in law could care less what asher calls him; he says he can call him moron if he wants. (we have toyed with papi- french.)

    and now i have written so much i might as well made my own blog entry. sorry 🙁

    • emily says:

      i absolutely love the name asher.

      nona/nana/mimi are all great choices. jp calls his father’s mother, mimi, and my little niece calls me the same thing. i love it!

  3. melinda sue says:

    ps… i love that ramona and asher share aunt lizzie.

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