What’s Your Name, Man?

alex11017-2alex11017-8It’s a snowy day and there’s a sleeping baby in the house so I thought I’d talk about Alex’s name.

Many years ago I had a dream where I had a son named Alexander. There was some debate in the dream if his middle name should be Liam or Noel (not sure if it was intentionally related to the Gallagher brothers or not). That’s beside the point though. I woke up suddenly knowing that I wanted to name my first boy, should I ever have one, Alexander. And over time the name really really grew on me. It’s a sharp, strong-sounding name, deeply ingrained in antiquity, but it also sounds modern. As a bonus, it has the opportunity for so many nick names! Alex! Lex! Xander! I’m also a really big fan of etymology and Alexander has a good meaning: Defender of Men. Obviously back in the day, I think “men” was used to refer to “people,” much in the same way that the race of Men in Middle Earth includes men, women and children. I now especially love his name because I’ll be able to teach him values like compassion and tolerance, and to stand up for those less privileged and more marginalized than him. I want to encourage him to be a warrior for the disadvantaged. Basically we could really use a generation of white men raised by feminists. Everybody wins.

alex11017-9His middle name, Richard, is after Alan’s dad. It means Dominant Ruler. A quite kingly name for a very small dude (but let’s be honest, he’s actually a pretty big baby). I dug the opportunity to honor his grandpa while also squeezing in another historically royal name in there (Alan’s middle name is Robert – for his grandpa – another name with royal lineage).

And then his last name is my last name. I broached the subject with Alan long before we decided the time was right for kids. I started to wonder why it was still so commonplace for children to have their father’s name, which things like patrilineage aren’t a “thing” anymore. And I had this opportunity in front of me to tip the scales a little bit. Alan wasn’t on board at first, but with persistence, we had many conversations and we decided that our kids would bear the last name of Royce and we’re both happy with that decision. I personally have taken a more feminist stance on the subject, thinking that it totally makes sense and is in no way weird for a kid to have his mother’s name (why should it be?). After all, I carried him, I birthed him, and now my day-to-day life is caring for him. The irony is that Alan is so cool about the fact that this thing he probably assumed was a given his whole life has had a different outcome, that I feel like he should pass his name along too! But, I’m definitely overthinking all of this. alex11017-17My main concern now is that Alexander Richard Royce is such a good, strong and meaningful name, I’m not even sure where to draw from when kid no. 2 comes along. Do I go big again? Does it matter? Should we just pick a name that we like and forget about the deeper context and stop making things so damn complicated?

About the Author

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Hi! I'm a graphic designer, photographer and female person. I live in Minneapolis with my husband Alan and our baby son Alexander and baby cat Arya.

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