Hi Duana,

I have an Ava. Yes, the most popular name in the WORLD for the last 5 years running. Sigh.

My husband actually chose the name and gave me such a touching reason for his choice I said YES while only 4 months pregnant. It wasn't until after that conversation that we realized how popular the name was. Being new parents, we had never trolled websites or books for names before- our BIG mistake. We forged ahead with the name because "really, how popular could it be??.. WE know no Avas" and we tried to come up with an alternative, but none of them stuck. And, the name does suit her.

Now, there are 4 Avas in her swimming lessons. FOUR. My husband is a Jason of the 80s, and I've asked him if it bothers him that there were so many others in school, and he said "Never." So, I've tried to come to terms with the fact that we've picked such a common name- still stabs every time someone is yelling at an "Ava" in the grocery store.

Now, I'm at a complete loss for the next baby. Boy or Girl. We chose the name because it meant so much to us, but now I realize we can't tell the story every time just to defend our use of the name. What name would go with Ava, without being super popular but not giving a super unique name to baby #2 and sticking Ava with the most popular name of all? For example, does Evelyn work? Complete loss for boy name. Bah! Please help- I'm sure I'm not the only one with this issue.



Oh, yes. This is the fear. This is the fear that strikes us all. Look, I’ve thought about it over and over again. The people who chose Jessica or Ashley as names thought they were beautiful.   They were beautiful, are beautiful, lovely lyrical names even if they’re now overused. But nobody chooses a name because it’s super popular, I don’t care who you are. Nobody thinks “You know what, let me totally get a name that is like everyone else’s, and she’ll just be one of the crowd.”    Conventional wisdom says that these days, even the most popular name will never reach the overall saturation of Jennifer but that doesn’t help when, like you, you’re living in a pocket of Avas or Noahs or Joshuas (people, there are always going to be Joshuas. Please get this through your head). This is the reason there is a book called Beyond Ava and Aiden. Not rubbing it in. Just saying.

And I know that, even though you hate this, you still love your girl’s name, it still sounds musical to you, and that you want to have a sibset that goes together. So the key here is to make sure you have a pairing that works, but not a pairing like other pairings. This would be the worst, right?  Jason Bateman and Jason Priestly both have sisters named Justine – it can happen. I’m sure five years ago it was Molly and Jacob, and now the sib pairs are Ava and Mason (which actually isn’t bad, it just strikes me as possibly common). Then again, you don’t want to run around calling him “St Clair” when she’s Ava, that won’t work either.

So, how about Cooper? Andy? Even Damian? (I’m never going to stop trying with Damian.) The sounds are familiar, but they’re not quite as top 10. Boys’ names in general are more useable and go out of style less often, so they are less likely to hit a style zenith – except maybe Max. Max is tapped.

As for girls, I have news for you. Evelyn is also popular. On the heels of Ella, Eva, and yes, even your Ava, Evelyn is the next progression. So in fact you’d be naming them names that were very, very similar. You could go with popular-with-a-twist – maybe Alicia rings your bell and goes with Ava?  It’s not as likely to be found in her preschool class as Alice, but it still fits? Or go the other way – keep your ‘V’ trend and go with Veronica: both glam, both familiar, but not identical and not trendy by design.

Above all, resist the urge to beat yourself up or to somehow “apologize” for what’s happened to her. I remember commenting around the Oscars to Elaine that the names Ben, Blaine, and Jennifer really didn’t go together, but you know what? It hasn’t hurt the youngest Lawrence any at all.