Choosing baby names: Why I named my daughter Lennon.
Preface: We all say it, “I remember pre-baby life, I had so much time!” But really, a huge change in becoming a mother has been how busy you become. I thought that my days were full before, I considered myself a doer, a hustler and a go-getter. Honestly, the big difference now is that all of those in between moments (the pauses, the commute, the bus ride, the morning coffee spent checking Instagram and emails before starting my day) have all been filled up by “have to dos.” Before Lennon, I had a tradition of going to a coffee shop every morning in the city, camping out for 45 minutes while I journaled and completed one sketch. It was my "“One Sketch a Day” stage. I’m nostalgic for those times now, I miss my peaceful coffee shop creative time which feel like a luxury these days. Can I build that creative space back into my daily life? Absolutely. Will it be as easy? Absolutely not. So, in the vein of nostalgia, I wanted to share some of my favorite writings from before Lennon. This one was written on October 2, 2017, it was the day after the Vegas shooting tragedy and I was about 4 months pregnant. I had just decided to name her Lennon and here is the story of why.
October 2, 2017
Naming a child is hard. For me, naming a daughter is nearly impossible. I’ll be honest, I never saw myself raising girls. Ever since I was young I imagined myself as the super hip, super laid back mother of four (yes four) boys. Throughout my pregnancy I have made lists and lists of names and felt fairly confident I was carrying a boy. One blood test and an explosion of pink confetti later and there I was, standing in genuine shock. I feel completely mentally unprepared for the little girl that is about to come into my life.
Naming a child is difficult, naming a girl is nearly impossible. Why? I think it’s because I’m a woman. Because I know first hand the struggles she will go through. I didn’t have brothers so I am blissfully naive to all things boys. And because of that, naming a boy was more about my own personal preference than symbolism. I want so bad for this name to hold meaning, to hold weight, to give her that extra ounce of strength to carry with her each day. All I want for her is to know that I named her with intention. Not because I had simply always loved a name, but because that name felt right for her and for her alone. She was always going to be a Harper. Harper Leigh actually. My little sister, the English teacher, really enjoyed that one. And there was nothing wrong with the name, it was my first and only choice for a girl, but the minute that explosion of pink surrounded me and my daughter became a reality, something about it just didn’t feel right for her.
I don’t know why, call it pregnancy hormones, call it maturity, call it a renewed sense of empathy but the Vegas shooting really hit me hard this week. I can’t seem to pull myself away from the news networks and radio stations covering the victims and their families. More than ever, I find myself wondering what kind of world we are living in. Somedays I want to meet this little girl so badly it hurts, yet most days I want to keep her safely inside me forever as I grow more and more frightened of the world I’m bringing her into and that I can’t realistically protect her (or any of us) from it.
Yes, I won’t lie, I want her name to be cool and different. But more than that I want it to have meaning, and depth. I want it to represent something, for it to be powerful. I was driving the other day, struggling with the current climate, and what seems like a never-ending string of shootings and tragedies. I was scared and feeling a bit void of hope for our world when all of the sudden John Lennon’s “Imagine” came on the radio. Now, I believe that “Imagine” is one of the best songs ever written. Personally, it’s one of my all-time favorites. I’ve also always respected his values as a musician, an artist and as a man. But in that moment, I listened to the lyrics, I heard the simplicity of the words and the chords and it brought a small beam of hope to me. That was the moment I decided that she would be a Lennon. Throughout this pregnancy I have felt so different than myself, more patient, at peace, calmer, stronger, and as if every thing is going to be alright. For those that know me, you know that I am usually fairly high-string, a bit of a control freak and carry with me a wide spectrum of volatile emotions. My theory is that my new found stillness is not due to hormonal changes or newfound nesting instincts but, rather, it comes from the sweet child sharing this body with me. Her special little power is one of hope.
Today, I ran across this very old recording of Connie Talbot (remember her?) singing his song and it made me smile. It made me imagine a little Lennon singing in front of the camera like my sister and I used to do. This is what I want my daughter to come into the world with, this kind of innocence and this kind of hope. And the name Lennon represents that to me in some way, it’s both peaceful and powerful. I think we all could use a little hopeful innocence right now.