Monday, July 19, 2010

No One is Born With a Name

A girl growing up without a middle name really only has two names she can identify with: the first or the last. I chose my last name, because I was ill at ease with my first name. "Chatfield" has a lot of character; since it's a compound word made up of two common-folkish words (kings and queens don't really "chat" in a "field," right?), people related to it easily and found it memorable in a way that most other names are not. And with so many of us in my family and so few other Chatfields in our hometown, "You're a Chatfield" became a mantra that friends and strangers alike would chant at us, given the opportunity.

When I married Caleb, I was able to slide my last name into middle name-status. "Flanagan" wasn't an upgrade from "Chatfield," but a very respectable lateral move. When I first told my mom about Caleb's casual existence in my life, 4 dates in all, she asked his last name and responded immediately, "Holly Flanagan. That sounds great together; you should marry him." Always the visionary, my mom was right; though I sometimes miss the wordplay that came with "Chatfield," I appreciate the waves of "Flanagan.... Are you Irish?" that now float my way. The whole situation is quite charming.

"Holly" has always been another matter, however. As a child, I was a short-haired, rough-and-tumble tomboy. My name seemed to be the opposite of what I felt my persona was; I wanted to be a boy as much as possible, but my name essentially surrounded me with flowers and wood nymphs. I grew older, became less tomboyish and more hormone-infused, and eventually felt comfortable in my first name. I'm unique, and there were few Hollys that I knew in existence, let alone personally. I appreciated that people knew how to say it when they read it and knew how to spell it when they heard it. Though I love the shortenings of my name that have developed over the years (Holl, Hollz, H to the LO), Holly is a cut and dry name. I like it.

The name "Holly" has its biggest fan in my husband. Since we met in 2005, he has consistently told me that he would like to have a daughter named Holly. Not only that, but that if I would let him, he would name every single one of our potential daughters Holly. The latter sentiment has grown in sincerity over the last few years, which makes me glad that I am a voice of reason, if nothing else.

Or at least I thought I was. Holly Jr. has always sounded preposterous to me; Caleb has never been keen on having his own junior, so I have always had that as leverage to use against his Holly clone plans. But, when we found out that we are having another baby this year, my mind inexplicably took a u-turn on the idea. My logical thought process has taken a backseat to what can only be described as another hormone-infused turning point. As we become closer to finding out what the gender of this baby is (August!), I am feeling increasingly compelled to allow this very odd and I-so-would-be-judging-this-if-this-were-one-of-my-friends situation.

But for now, Holly Chatfield Flanagan remains the only Holly in this family. That's me!


  1. I'd like to be the first to say CONGRATULATIONS! I had to reread your post to figure out that you're FINDING OUT what the baby is in August, not having one in August. You're amazing! We need to catch up sometime! I am so excited for you! Again, congratulations! Let us know what transpires!

  2. Congratulations to the only Holly I know as well. How exciting for your family.

  3. If that ever were an option for me (naming my daughter after myself) I would be either using it as the middle name or she would go by her middle name. But that's just me. I'm excited for you having number two. Congrats!
    Melissa Blair

  4. I'm proud to say that I have called you by all the nicknames listed, and then some, I'm sure! You are the :)

  5. Hooray for an official announcement! I love reading your blogs- they are so well-worded and relatable. :)

    P.S. I hate my middle name, I wish it would disappear.

  6. Just wanted to post my official CONGRATULATIONS! And I sure do miss you and your many talents at ST :)