Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Thinking about names...and my Divas

I have thinking about names lately as some beautiful and very unusual Irish names have been batted around on the boards.

I do not have an unusual name. It is short and plain and being a family name, it was common in our clan. Growing up, I always wanted a more exotic name. I decided I would change my name to "Elizabeth." It had lots of letters, several nickname variations, sounded so grown up, and it did not rhyme with "banana!" I clung to "Elizabeth" until the day my grandmother told me that she thought it was a horrible name because it sounded English and was not proper for a good Irish girl! Shot me down!

When I was pregnant for the first time, my husband and I spent much time researching names. At first, I wanted to continue my Irish family tradition and give my children family names, but Michael was adamant that they should have their own unique names. I came around, but that only made things harder. At least with family names there was a limit to the number of names to consider!

My father came to visit when I was about six months pregnant. He got quite an earful when he asked us what names we were considering. Michael and I could not agree on a single name! Dad listened, nodded that sage nod of his, and in a lull he said quietly, "It's Molly."

Shut us right up. He was right.

Now, the name Molly is not that unusual, but it meant something to Dad...and it clicked. In July, on Michael's birthday, Molly was born. She was perfect. Turns out her name means "the perfect one."

My second daughter was born 4 years, 4 months, and 25 days later. This time, though, I knew her name: Maggie. But I did not want her "real" name to be Margaret. We had several relatives named Margaret in our family, and even though I loved them all, I did not like the name. It sounded harsh to me. And by this time, I understood Michael's feelings about our children owning their own names and not being someone else's namesake. So I searched for an Irish name that could serve as the "real" name. Not long before she was born, I found it: Maighdlin . An Irish variant of Madeleine. Our Irish relatives told me it was pronounced as "My-uh- lin." No "g" sound, but I thought it was beautiful and it meant "the magnificent one."

On the way to the hospital to have baby #2, Michael and I realized that we had never even come close to choosing a boy's name. I just knew this new baby was "Maggie."

I remember more about this labor and delivery than I do about the first one. It was a revelation in so many ways. And as she was being born, my new daughter gave me one last parting kick deep inside my belly. Made me laugh. And there she was, my magnificent daughter, the one who still makes me laugh.

4 years, 4 months, and 28 days later, daughter #3 showed up. This time since I was an "elderly gravid" (translation: old mom at 39 years old), we had to go through all the genetic tests. We decided we wanted to know what sex this baby was: another girl! I was thrilled but thought Michael would be disappointed that there would be no boys since this was the LAST baby. Instead, he sighed in relief and said, "Oh thank goodness! I know what to do with girls!"

Choosing the name for this baby became a family affair. I was determined that this name would not start with an "M." Young Molly had pointed out that "we are all M's! Michael, Molly, Maggie and Mama!" Do you see my problem? My real name did not count! Maybe if the new baby were named Aine (ahn-ya) or Fiona or Ciaomhe (kee-va), then the world would hear my real name every once in a while! But, Michael came home one day, announced, "Maeve," and I was out-voted. Molly and Maggie were thrilled.

"See, Mama! All our names start the same!"

When I told my mother, she reminded me of a relative that I had met when I went with her to Ireland in 1985. She spelled her name "Meave" and it meant "joy." I insisted on that spelling. My relative was born the same month as our Meave would be, 100 years before...and she was still alive. She lived long enough to know there was another Meave Halligan in this world. Michael did not object to this family name.

Ten days after my Meave was born, I almost died of a massive infection. When I woke up in ICU a week later, all I wanted was to see my divas. It has taken several years to recover, to come back to a place of strength. And I could not have done it without my perfect one, my magnificent one, and my joy.

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(When I moved this post here from Taoknitter, I left behind some lovely comments. They can be read here: Thinking about names...and my Divas )

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