Hi (again) Duana,
My daughter Mae turns 5 in July and we're expecting a second girl. We named her after my grandmothers, Mamie Jean and Dorine Margaret but if I'm honest, I just liked the name. It's simple and classic, familiar but not popular (at least not as a first name). It's perfect for her and we could not be happier with the choice.
Even tho we weren't planning to expand our family at the time, soon after she was born it occurred to me that I also love the name June and it has stuck with me. I know. Mae and June. It's a lot.
I mean, is it?
I like single syllables since our last name is 2 syllables and ends -en. I do know of other Junes but not in our immediate or even extended circles. We don't have any family connections to the name. I suppose it's close to Jon/John, my husband's middle name and his father's name, respectively. I don't really think that's an argument for using it since she'll already carry their last name. We aren't planning to have more children but if we did they would NOT be April or August. Mae and June are just two likable names that happen to both be months.
Then again, June does come after May even if it smacks of punchline material. I love it enough that I'm not daunted. My husband is nervous about the jokes at her/our/her sister's expense. I know he likes it tho because when he doesn't like something he immediately vetoes it and June has hung around for nearly 5 years.
So what do YOU think? I trust your opinion and if you don't think it's advisable, I'll move on. Goodness knows there are plenty of amazing choices out there (please feel free to include your suggestions)!
Why are you letter writers SO FUN? You guys are making me really happy these days, with your interesting questions and willingness to consider all kinds of names and let us all in with you. Seriously, we’re in a golden age of Duana Names.
I like this question so much also because it allows me to consider things from a different perspective. As I know I’ve mentioned, my day job is as a screenwriter and dialogue is arguably my favourite part. So I decided to play out your situation that way, and see what happens.
“Hey Mae, nice to meet you!”
“ I love that name! So, you grow up around here?”
“Yeah, not too far away.”
“Yeah, I have a younger sister.”
“Oh cool. What’s her name, June? Lol”
“Your sister is named June and your name is Mae?”
“Yeah, my parents just… they liked them.”
“No. I don’t have a sister named July or a brother named August, no. Neither of us were born in the month we’re named after, which is kind of better, because I think my sister would be pissed if they called her November. Hey, can you pass the Doritos?”
So? How do you feel about that conversation above? I can see it playing out like that, fairly often to be honest… but note that for someone to get that much into it, they’re pretty interested in Mae as a human, and this isn’t gonna be the thing they think most about her.
And there’s no other real joke there. I guess some doofus could call them ‘Calendar Girls’ but… so what, really. There’s not really a goofy connotation, as if you were calling them Mickey and Minnie or something.
I believe that you legitimately like both Mae and June as names, and it’s not like you’re calling them Ebony & Ivory, and I believe you that June legitimately speaks to family names you want to nod to. Maybe it’s because the names are relatively undecorated and low-key that I’m not immediately raging about the idea.
But there is something that concerns me here. I can easily get past the fact that Mae & June “is a lot”, or even that there’s a cutesy factor, because you’re not really giving me ‘cutesy’ vibes in your letter – but I can’t shake the feeling that choosing this name might set up a situation where both girls wind up seeing June as an accessory to Mae. Do you see what I mean? A supplement to her.
That is, if you were the author of a hugely popular series about 5’6 sun-kissed blondes from sunny California with perfect size 4 figures and lavaliere necklaces, AND you already had a daughter named Elizabeth, naming the second one Jessica feels like you’re doing that as an afterthought, you know?
That is, in most families, the first child sets the naming trend (whether the parents are conscious of it or not) but choosing June could feel like an eventuality. Like “Well we liked Mae for all these legitimate reasons and family names and etc. etc, so June just seemed like an obvious follow-up.” As though Mae, or her name, dictates everything that happens after her existence. The Brandon and Brenda phenomenon, if you will.
Maybe I’m sensitive to this in the context of older and younger siblings, too – and I wouldn’t blink if your older daughter was June and younger was Mae, because yeah, they’re names for months, but they’re names for months, so get over it… but I feel as though if June already had struggles about autonomy or following in an older sister’s footsteps or anything of the kind, then June having the same kinds of conversations I outlined above for Mae might feel like a bigger burden than I said they would be. So. For me, the fix here is incredibly simple, and that’s to name her Jane – a name just as short, just as stylish, if not more so - and that fits tonally with Mae. But I love the name, so it’s easy for me. If you don’t, then of course there’s putting June as a middle name but allowing her a first name that she can use for situations that call for it, or even a double name, like Liza June or something, if that’s your style.
I thought about Juno and Djuna but to me, I think they actually look more like you’re trying to do a ‘thing’ and paper over it... like the link between the names is cute and accidental. So I wouldn’t do that... though you could maybe get away with Juniper or something that has a larger identity beyond the months.
Still, I don’t want to be one of the pedantic people who say you can’t do this, that, or the other with names, and that probably comes from a place of feeling like you’re not trying to create a matched set… but even though I don’t think there’s a lot of ‘teasing’ to be worried about, there might be outsized effects you’re unconsciously reacting to… which makes you a smart and thoughtful namer.