Hi Duana,

I'm due in just over a month with my first and only child who we have already named Grayson. It was quick and easy, decided years ago and though the new popularity of the name bums me out, it's his name no matter what.

The middle name, however, is an ongoing saga due to my husband disliking all of our previous choices or my mom criticizing the ones we do like.

We've gone from Holden (I love it but my husband is less keen) to Lawrence (husband no longer likes it), to Clark and finally Arthur (my mom detests this choice). His last name will be a color with one syllable so I'm not sure Clark flows well, etc, etc. 

I love old classic names, literature/fantasy/mythological names but nothing too out there and my husband likes whatever he likes that week.

I would so appreciate your advice as we're completely at a loss.

First of all, may I commend you on this phrase: “It was quick and easy, decided years ago, and though the new popularity of the name bums me out, it’s his name no matter what”. Yes! I love this, because you love it! 

When my younger sister was trying to decide what to study in university, she told me, “Not everyone is as lucky as you, to know what they want to do super early on.” I’d never thought about it that way, and she was right, of course. Moreover, I wasn’t interested in anyone’s reasons why I shouldn’t go into a ‘volatile’ business without a clear career trajectory, and I’m happy with my decision. 

So a PSA, courtesy of Grayson’s soon-to-be parent above: not everyone knows for sure what their kid’s name should be, stamped-it-no-erasies. But if you do? If you’ve always known and you’re in a two-parent situation and both of you agree? Then don’t let anything, whether popularity or Aunt Agnes’s opinions or a character one of you remembers from way back in the day, get into your head; your opinion and your partner’s are really all that matters. And sure, that may mean you come up with a name that some people don’t agree with, including me, but when you know, you know – and crowdsourcing something you’re sure about usually tends to have the opposite effect you’re hoping for. 

So. Good on you for that. Now on to your question: 

I laughed a lot at ‘my husband likes whatever he likes that week’. I can see that it’s frustrating, no question – but at least he’s open to stuff, right? What I said above about you guys loving the name goes double for a middle; even more than a first name, a middle is going to be for the two of you and your kid, to sort of craft and reinforce the image or heritage you want him to have, so this is where pleasure, not practicality, should rule the day.

First of all, I should say I’m not too sorry to see Holden go. It’s a great name but ‘Grayson Holden’ sounds very rhymey and similar, so I feel as though you can go further afield. 

Then, I was interested to note that you say you like ‘literature/fantasy/mythological names’, because while Lawrence, Clark, and Arthur do appear in those genres (I’m assuming King Arthur, for example), they don’t necessarily embody those traits, even understanding that you’re focused on names that aren’t too out there. 

But the middle name is space for fun! I wonder if expanding your ideas slightly would give you a breath of fresh air. What about Sawyer? Too folksy? Sebastian? I know I said Holden and Grayson end the same way but more syllables will help, especially since they’re going to be paired with a short last name. I keep thinking of something like Caspian? Alistair? Angus? What about something like Frederick, or even Cedric – Grayson Cedric Red (or whatever colour) is pretty charming. Or maybe something like Edmund or Rupert? The more I muse on names with really strong final syllables the more I like them. What about Talbot or Phillip or Walter or Louis or – yes, it’s my oddball favourite, but it’s also completely warranted here – Barnaby? 

I can’t wait to hear what you choose, and thank you for being an object lesson for us all! Let us know!