Duana Names: Pinning Down Your Magnolia
We have lots of time to answer this question (this isn't like a, due next week problem) but I am worried that we will never be able to decide on a girl's name. I NEVER thought this would be us because I had my names, boy and girl, picked out forever and ever, long before I met my husband. The girl I was especially enamored with, as it was a name dear to my heart and my mother's heart- Trudy Elise. My great grandmother, who practically raised my mom, was named Gertrude, but always called Trudy. I know you are NOT a fan of nickname names, but I love the name Trudy and I honestly think it's more common now than the full Gertrude now, which is kind of terrible in my opinion (sorry Gertrudes of the world.) My mom and mother-in-law both have names similar to Elise, though neither is named Elise, so that made me even more attached to the name when I found out my (at that point future) mother-in-law's given first name.
I was VERY up front with my husband, long before we got married, that it was important to me to name a baby Trudy if I had a girl, and he said that was okay with him, but it was clear from the start he didn't love it. But as time went on and then it became more real, he finally admitted that he doesn't just not love it- he actively hates the name Trudy and he doesn't want to name a baby that at all. And though this breaks my heart, I can't imagine naming a baby something that my husband flat out hates, even if it's something I've loved before I knew him. So Trudy is out.
The problem is I can't find anything I love as much, and nothing I like is something he likes. Rejected names that I love but he doesn't include: Luella, Ruth, Frances, Mae, June, Molly, and Nancy. He doesn't really have any he's come to the table with himself, but he has liked two names I brought up- Rachel and Bridget. I can see that I lean toward "old fashioned" girl names and he leans away from them, but I'm having a hard time coming up with a name that we both like, let alone one that lives up to the Trudy Elise I had in my head. I guess we could use Elise as a first, but neither of us is as fond of it for a first as we are for a middle, especially since my sister in law plans to name her daughter after her mother, so it would be kind of stepping on her toes. We clearly need help meeting in the middle ground where our daughter is obviously living.
- Not Trudy's Mom
PS- last name starts and ends with S, two syllables
This is the thing with having a child with another person, you guys - you have to share the naming. Other people have grown up with their own ideas, too, and I am really glad that this letter points out that those ‘other people’ include men – names are not solely the province of women.
I also love that you’re not stamping your feet at the realization that he just can’t with Trudy, even though you love it. For what it’s worth, I do feel like the nicknames that have always been names on their own are a bit of a different category—you know, names like Charlie or Beth or Trudy— so I don’t think I would come down on it super harsh. Having said that, a couple of things to keep in mind:
I am so charmed by UnREAL, as we all are (shhh I haven’t seen Monday’s yet, I’m on it!), and in particular I love that co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro uses her three names as her professional identity. If I’m not mistaken, she is referred to as “Sarah Gertrude”, the way you might call someone else Mary Ann. There’s a popularization of Gertrude there.
The other thing I want to point out is that I am terribly biased where your middle name choice is concerned (check my Twitter if you don’t know why), but I think that, like Sarah Gertrude, there’s something to be said for Elise being a familiar-factor in the name. I hear you on your sister-in-law, but if she surprises you and goes another way, perhaps Elise Gertrude might grow on you?
Now. Your name choices aren’t just old fashioned, they are downright folksy. There’s nothing wrong with them at all, don’t misunderstand me, but any of them could walk into Miss Truvy’s salon in Steel Magnolias and not be out of place. By contrast, I guess, Rachel and Bridget, still soft sounding and not un-southern, sound more like the daughters of the Truvys and M’Lynns and Ouisers – so what we have is a generational problem.
To bridge the gap I decided to look at the kinds of names that might be able to walk back and forth between both categories. We may as well start at the beginning, with Mary. For some people it’s untenable because it belonged to every female relative they ever had; for others it’s unreasonably sweet and charming. Where does it sit for you? Other names this brings to mind, sweet but with heft, include Susannah, in all its myriad spellings, or Lucy or even Naomi. No joke, the kind of dilemma you’re going through, where everyone wants a vintage name but nobody’s quite sure what kind of name that actually is, is the reason why ‘Violet’ is so popular, magically managing to be of many times and places at once.
I’d also include Rita in this category, to me it is about one’s aunt, and ‘Educating Rita’, but with Lila and Eva and the hard Ts in Charlotte and Violet and even Elliot, for parents doing that, Rita may be on its way back to the forefront – or it may be too vintage for your husband, we’ll see.
I’ll admit to having a soft spot for Rachel, but I also wonder if I’m just not exposed to it enough. I knew six dozen Sarahs like we all did, but so few Rachels that I pestered a grade school classmate Rae, hoping she would confess that she was actually Rachel (she wasn’t). Hey, how about Rae? I know it’s pared down, relative to your other choices, but it’s charming? Or Zelda, which may have a wacky factor, but which is becoming quite stylish and might lend itself to the Luella/June/Nancy corridor.
How about something like Moira? Something like Una? Vaguely familiar but not happening all the time? Judith, maybe? I’m trying to stay away from suggesting substitutes for Trudy because I don’t think Tracy or Tula are really going to help you with the feeling Trudy gives you, but just to throw out all my usual rules and make up a name based on a nickname, what about a middle name of True? If you think of it like “my love is True” then it’s obviously a bit cutesy. But if you consider it like Prue, a totally accepted nickname for Prudence, then it feels like a totally new name, doesn’t it? I tried to see if ‘Trude’ would work, like Jude, but it doesn’t come out as gracefully.
If you’re feeling like you’re getting away from your mother and her grandmother, try wandering around in other people they knew and talked about. Did one of them have a relative with a great name? Something that evokes a time? That lends itself to being paired with Elise as the daughter’s name you didn’t know you always wanted?
Let me know which way you go!
Also, if you think I’m crazy, come out and yell at me/side with Lainey at the brand new Sherway Gardens Indigo on Wednesday June 22nd!Photos:
Jerod Harris/ Getty Images