I’m thinking about baby names lately. I’ve kept an ever-increasing, ever-changing list of baby names on my phone for the past year, despite no plans of conceiving any time soon. I’m particularly in love with my current baby name trend — English surnames as first names and British schoolboy names. Also, tangent: I recently heard of a couple who named their beautiful son Aeneas.
Be still, my beating heart.
But I’m afraid Erich and I could never produce a child who fits such a name, so I’m not adding it to the list just yet.
First names come easily for me, but middle names, I’m lost. What are middle names for? Mine is Elizabeth, and while I like my middle name, I don’t use it or attach any significance to it. But a first name without a middle name seems sad and economical to a fault.
I’ve been thinking of alternative reasons for middle names besides just adding a second pretty name. Right now, I like the idea of First Name / Baptismal Name / My Maiden Name / Last Name — Aeneas Michael Bergmann Steger, for instance. It’s such a mouthful, but I particularly love the practice of giving my maiden name as my children’s middle names.
I never seriously considered hyphenating our last names, because if my daughter wanted to hyphenate her last name with her husband’s, it’d end up Bergmann-Steger-Smith, etc. — and that’s ridiculous. But as I’ve expressed elsewhere, I’m deeply connected to my maiden name. Maybe I’m still unused to married life, but I still see myself as a “Bergmann girl.” Bergmann is my last name, Steger is Erich’s, despite what my legal identification says. I’m hoping to at least come to see Steger as “ours” if not “mine.”
In any case, giving my children my maiden name connects them with my side of the family, the people I’ve loved the longest and deepest. It unites them to an important part of my identity.
It’s a common practice in the American south, in Spanish-influenced countries, and even Scandinavia, I hear. Many of our presidents have their mother’s maiden name as their middle name. I’m attending the wedding of a friend whose middle name is hyphenated between a “normal” middle name and what appears to be her mother’s maiden name. Her invitation gave me this idea in the first place. It would be a bold move in my corner of the world, but the idea’s growing on me.
What do you think? Would you give your child your maiden name? What’s your philosophy on middle names, either your own or your children’s?