What’s In a Name…

22 Feb

I remember trying to pick your name. My parents have a couple of baby naming books, and one I day I pulled one off the shelf and started flipping through it. I wrote down all the names that I liked, and by the end of the book, I had about 7 or 8 names on my list. A few of them were eliminated pretty quickly but, as you might have gathered, Liam was on the top three. I ran it past C one day and he liked it too. It means “warrior” or “strong protector.”

The day I met J and E, we talked briefly about names towards the end of our meeting, and I mentioned Liam. J was excited – apparently, she had just talked to her mother about that name not that long before I mentioned it. However, The B’s had decided that if they ever had another boy, they would name him Hudson. After you were born, even though we had planned to name you Liam Hudson, they were going to call you by Hudson. But you were Liam in the hospital and you were Liam to the adoption agency and it stuck. Maybe that’ll change down the road. But either way, the fact that The B’s and I chose your name together has always meant a lot to me.

My name means “reborn” or “born again.” Supposedly I was named for a song that was played at my parent’s wedding, but I think it’s a very fitting meaning for me. My mom also told me that she liked Renee because it was difficult to get any sort of nickname out of it, and she didn’t want me walking around with any goofy “half-names” or anything.

And yet…

Children can’t pronounce the letter “R” very well, so when I started daycare, instead of going by “Renee,” it ended up just being “Nay” and then eventually “Nay-Nay.” It didn’t go away. For my 16th birthday, a friend of mine even gave me a licence plate that read, “Nay-Nay.” It’s still on my car today. Sorry, mom.

However, I find that I’ve become even more fond of my accidental nickname, because that’s what you call me.

I always wondered how the name thing was going to work. Whenever I brought up adoption to others, one of the FAQs was, “What is he going to call you?” I hated that question. Among the many wonderful aspects of adoption, I always felt as though that was going to be one of the not-so-nice strings attached. I knew that if you went up for adoption, I would spend the rest of my life watching you call someone else “mom,” and I didn’t really know what to do with that. But J had offered to share motherhood with me – that, coupled with the fact that you were quite a ways off from speaking, I figured it was enough and I let it go.

But then you grew up and, of course, the talking began. I’ll admit, the first time I heard you say “mama,” I immediately looked up and turned to you – it was just a reflex, I suppose. Only when I looked up, you weren’t looking at me. You weren’t reaching out for me. It wasn’t me that you wanted…it was J. I went to the bathroom and cried.

It was the one and only time I was upset by it. I had known it was coming, I had known I was going to have to come to terms with it. And if you’re going to call anyone other than me “mom,” I wouldn’t want it to be anyone else but J. That is what I focused on after that day – the fact that the woman you were calling “mom” was one that I loved, one that was strong and beautiful and wise and fun. One that loved me and loved you. One that I’m sure would have held my hand in the bathroom that day if I’d asked her to. I didn’t. I was afraid it would make her uncomfortable, but looking back I’m sure it wouldn’t have been. She loves me too much to let it matter. She told me once that she thinks of me as “her Renee,” which is one of the many reasons I am so glad you call her “mom.”

You call me “Nay-Nay” now. The B’s have been showing you pictures of me since you were only nine or ten months old, and when they point to my pictures they say, “That’s Nay-Nay!” Like usual, you caught on pretty fast – when I came to visit you for Christmas this year, I had barely been in the door for 10 seconds and you looked over at me and exclaimed, “Nay-Nay!” My heart felt so big, I thought it would burst. I feel as happy when you call me that as I would have if you called me “mom” because the most important thing is that you know me. You know who I am and I mean enough to you for you to remember me. And for now, that’s all that matters. That’s enough for me.

2 Responses to “What’s In a Name…”

  1. Peter F. Hartwick February 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    A rose by any other name is just as sweet. Lovely and insightful.


  1. The Mentor « Letters to Little Man - January 10, 2013

    […] adjusting to certain aspects of “adoptionhood” I would message her. I messaged her when you started calling J “mom” instead of me (definitely anticipated, but still a kicker at first). She told me how she got through that period […]

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